Segments in this Video

Defining Relationships (02:36)


Philosopher Robert Rowland Smith introduces the topic of the unknown, a subject that is complicated because of its nature. He is working on a project called the Architecture of Being that maintains that each person is constantly participating in four relationships: with other people, with ideas, with the material world, and with the unknown.

Converting the Unknown (03:12)

Smith distinguishes between the unknowable and the unknown through an example regarding souls and money. Finding out something unknown, like how much money someone is carrying, is possible, while knowing someone's soul may be unknowable.

Remaining Enigmatic (03:08)

Smith breaks the unknowable into two parts: the divine and the enigma. Mysticism, or the divine, if it does exist, remains ultimately unknowable, an asymmetrical relationship. The enigma is different, being cryptic and an unbreakable code.

Strangers to Ourselves (03:03)

Psychoanalysis has identified the unconscious as the unknown within all people . Psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche have discussed this topic.

Reflecting the Unknown (03:30)

People who meditate sometimes say that by doing so, they are able to tap into the unconscious and get a sense that they are accessing unknown parts of the world. Smith talks about anamnesis, a word Plato used to describe remembering, and Freud's idea of "not forgetting," which stems from anamnesis.

Transcendental Memory (03:19)

According to Plato, humans have accesses to truths that have always been there, but not access to "the big truth" because it was never in the human brain. Memory is usually thought of as being contained in the brain, but Plato indicates that memory is held in a sort of philosophical cloud.

Blind-Seeing (03:54)

Smith discusses something Plato talked about called sympathetic knowledge, which refers to knowledge held outside of oneself that is not accessible via empiric thinking. He also talks about situations in relationships when people can only see their partner through a lens that feeds information in to support a confirmation bias theory.

Accessing the Tone (05:35)

Smith says it is difficult to understand people as they really are and how in some situations, focusing less allows one to better understand situations. Meta-mode, he says, is when one allows oneself to understand an environment better when looking down at oneself by detaching or disassociating.

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Is there an unknown world beyond us? Is the self unknowledgable? Philosopher Robert Rowland Smith examines the limits of knowledge.

The Speaker

Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Robert's books include Death-Drive and Breakfast with Socrates.

Length: 29 minutes

Item#: BVL115741

ISBN: 978-1-63521-214-3

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.