Donald Rumsfeld's Philosophy of History

posted Dec 31, 2011, 2:23 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Dec 31, 2011, 2:47 AM ]
"...there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

Donald Rumsfeld (b.1932) was Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford (1975-1977) and again under George W. Bush (2001-2006).  This quotation is from the Transcript of Defense Department Briefing, February 12, 2002.

Rumsfeld became so associated with these un/knowns, that he used it as the title for his autobiography:

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek took Rumsfeld's philosophy seriously: "What Rumsfeld forgot to add was the crucial fourth term: the 'unknown knowns' - things we don't know that we know, all the unconscious beliefs and prejudices that determine how we perceive reality and intervene in it." [Slavoj Zizek: Rumsfeld and the bees]