a more of the age of reason that one doesn’t form an opinion until one has collected and at minimum initially confronted all of the available information concerning any topic at issue. Of course, as the age of reason has matured into the age of information, such a task is impossible; the reservoir of information is literally inexhaustable and generally sufficiently diverse as to make the task of synthesis or narrow analysis seem ponderously difficult, a secondary impossibility layered atop the impossibility of collecting a “complete” body of information in the first place.
The embarrassment of the scholar has no place in the information age. The truly judicious scholar will spend his or her life as the pale human imitation of the computerized aggregator, a Google of the flesh, as it were, tiny and inadequate in comparison, paralyzed by the processes and normativities of a set of traditions that come to us from an age in which there was a clear and infinite boundary between the information that could be collected and the information that could not.
No such boundary exists today; the latter territory, in fact, has become a mythological place, the stuff of legends and of near forgotten dark ages.
If the academy is to contribute, the academy must become lighter on its feet, and must be more willing, as Luhmann implicitly notes, to observe and draw conclusions about a system—of society, of information, of structures or of processes—without being able to observe but a tiny, geographically proximal (whether in time or space) fraction of it.