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Professions of an anti-Dogmite

The beliefs of an unbeliever.

5.

d.s

"Knowledge is a poor substitute for understanding"

Human knowledge (in the form of definitions, theory, philosophy, doctrine, theology, dissertations, non-fiction, allegory, news, propaganda, advertising, opinion, gossip, lies, etc.) is held in high regard by all its consumers. But does it really deserve such trust and admiration as an account of how things actually are? One could argue that the bulk of human knowledge, as actually held in human consciousness, isn't very well based in reality.

Knowledge, at its best, represents our current collective mental model of the world – to the degree we accept each other's personal model. Knowledge is only as good as we share it and concur about its veracity – and consensus, or even respect for another's world view, seems far harder to achieve than knowledge itself.

 Our mind depends on its "body of knowledge" as a cognitive island of stability in an otherwise enigmatic and protean reality, and we presume our knowledge model helps us function better within reality. And it does – until it doesn't. Then instantly the knowledge that upheld our trusted model is considered not just worthless, but harmful – like it were anti-knowledge. Also any survey of the history of knowledge clearly shows there's nothing permanent about it, with the old way of thinking viewed as ignorant. And more to the point, in our own singular mind, the only place knowledge actually exists*, our personal theory of everything is notoriously unsettled.

But all this unreliability is nothing compared to the danger of a mind that in grasping knowledge fails to grasp reality.

Our autocentric mind enables so much latent suffering. Favoring its sketchy yet rigidly held knowledge over actuality, it immediately puts us in direct conscious conflict with reality. And we immediately suffer the consequences – starting with discontentment, based on the anti-knowledge that reality should be other or better than what it is. Then we apply the anti-knowledge that my knowing is better than yours, and suffer all the discord, abuse, oppression, and murder we inflict on each other. And as our numbers and influence expands, we suffer the untold and untellable consequences of applying our woeful knowledge to technological invention, that we may exploit the very world that supports our existence.

We even suffer suffering, thinking it unnatural and undeserved. Yet all the while suffering is just reality informing us that we need to upgrade not just our knowledge, but how we use it.

For sure,  when knowledge coincides with reality, it's astoundingly useful and intrinsically exquisite. Our ontocentric mind is aware of this, and having the advantage of favoring reality over knowledge about it, sees knowledge not as something to accrue and manage like a mental bank account to be spent in the pursuit of self-interest, but as a method of awareness, an ever flexible path to understanding, which is a much less fraught way of knowing reality – and existing within it. 

 

*  All the words and symbols in all the books and media in the world are utterly meaningless without a mind to interpret them.

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