On the limitations of knowledge

I turned in my first federal grant application today, and just wading through the endless instructions felt like a real accomplishment! This particular grant asked me to provide the ‘expected answers’ to my research questions.  Given that I haven’t actually started the research yet, this felt a bit like putting the cart before the horse.  But hypothesis testing, as it is called, is one standard approach to social science research.  It wouldn’t be very convincing to the granting agency, but I was tempted to include this poem in my application:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves.
Do not seek the answers, which cannot be give you
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything –
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will… gradually,
without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

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