Volume 23, Issue 2, 2019
Aporia and Wonder in the Age of Big Data
My argument in this paper is given in two parts. In Part I, I review the ancient understanding of aporia, focusing on works by Plato and Aristotle. I illustrate two ways of understanding aporia: “cathartic” and “zetetic.” Cathartic aporia refers to the experience of being purged of hubris and ignorance through the dialectic. Zetetic aporia, on the other hand, requires us to engage in, recognize, and work through certain philosophical puzzles or problems. In Part II, I discuss the idea of Big Data and then argue that in the “age of answers” neither conception of aporia appears to be necessarily cultivated by the average Internet user. Our experience of wonder suffers when we rely so heavily on the Internet as a “surrogate expert,” and when our social media use betrays the fact that we always seem to gravitate towards the like-minded.