The Art of Knowledge
"People who think they know it all really annoy those of us who do." Perhaps one thing worse than that quote is its antitheses, that people who donít know too frequently assume that no one knows and therefore everything is a matter of conjecture and opinion. In other words, what I say is an opinion because what you say is an opinion. That leaves no room for the possibility that I may know what Iím talking about.
When I deal with a question or problem, I like to begin at lowest, simplest basic statement possible, identify what is assumption, and build from there.
First Premise Ė We Do Really Exist in This World
It would be too easy to assume our senses identify what is true. Our senses can be fooled. We "see" the sun rise in the east and set in the west; therefore we "know" the sun revolves around the earth. Different people have different tastes; what seems bitter to one person may be neutral or pleasant to another person. Some people hear people talking and other people hear disembodied voices. Therefore an amateur philosophy has sprung up that we donít really know if this world exists or not.
Nevertheless, the very fact that we are thinking, reading this and reasoning proves that something intelligent exists. Thatís where we start.
What if this world doesnít exist but it is simply our imagination? That doesnít matter because this is the "world" we are in and have to deal with. Even if this world doesnít really exist but another one does, we do not function in that other world. This one is where we are and this is the one in which we function. Therefore if we are to be successful in this world, we must find out the rules and use them to our benefit.
What if everything, including this what youíre reading, is simply a product of your own imagination? Thereís a slight variation in this question versus the one posed above. In the previous question we asked what if this world doesnít really exist. In this question we ask, what if it exists, but it exists only because your own mind has willed it to exist? If this world, and all that is in it exists only in your imagination, it doesnít really matter because this is the world youíre living in and in which you have to function. You still need to deal with it as if it were real.
However, itís not too difficult to interject reality into this musing because of two things: surprises and learning. If your own mind is creating all that you experience, then how can you ever be surprised by anything at all? Yet there are many times youíre surprised by unexpected events. In addition to that, you can remember when you were young and learned things. In fact, youíre still learning. If your own mind created this entire world, then how could you learn? Therefore it is a simple matter to discard the notion that everything is a product of your own imagination.
Another question was recently posed regarding other dimensions. We live in four dimensions: height, width, depth and time. Some true scientists have predicted a few other dimensions, like twelve, could have existed or did exist briefly during the first partial second of the universe creation. Thatís all it took for story tellers and movie makers. Now we have the pseudo-serious proposition that what if there are countless billions or trillions of dimensions and parallel universes? My personal opinion is that that is nonsense and impossible. Nevertheless, whether it is real or not does not matter. The fact is, this is the world we live in and therefore this is the only one that matters for purposes of functioning and living.
That leaves me with this conclusion: this is the only world in which we live, recognize, function in and can manipulate to our benefit. Arguments to the contrary cannot be proven or demonstrated and therefore they become idle and fruitless speculation.
That is my basic assumption. If someone thinks they can prove otherwise, they are welcome to enlighten me. However, Iím not interested in endless wordy speculations.
Second Premise Ė Anything Is Itself
To function in this world, we need to recognize that anything is itself. That is not saying "A table is a table." It is saying, "This table is this table."
From here we must generalize just a little bit. Letís use a wooden table as an example. As a matter of fact, a wooden table is continually losing atoms and molecules and perhaps gaining other atoms and molecules. As a result, in a few hundred years, or thousand, (if not destroyed beforehand) the table would no longer be a "table." It would be a heap of dust. It decomposes and decays. Therefore, if I say "This table," one minute and another minute say "This table" again, Iím not really talking about the exact same table. Some atoms are missing. It is different. It has changed.
You see what the result would be. If we were so precise that we accounted for every atom or quark, we could not deal with anything. We could not function. Nothing we said would be meaningful. Therefore we must be imprecise to a degree. Fortunately, humanity generally agrees with this method. I can say "This table," today, "This table" tomorrow and "This table" next year, and everybody including myself will understand and agree that I am referring to the same item of furniture, although it has changed ever so slightly.
Third Premise Ė Action Has Results
This premise, that Action Has Results, is based on the first two, "We Really Exist" and "Anything Is Itself."
If this world and we really exist (Premise #1), then we can test it. We discover gravity. We discover heat. If we drop a ball, it will fall. If we touch a paper to fire, it will burn. We can do what it takes to get from Los Angeles to New York. Wouldnít it be a sad situation if we did everything it took to get from Los Angeles to New York yet found ourselves still at the starting point, still in Los Angeles? But instead, we can buy a ticket, enter an airplane, fly northeast from Los Angeles, the earth rotating beneath us, land at LaGuardia Airport and actually be in New York and not in a situation where we never really entered an airplane, left the ground or flew northeast.
But those are physical phenomena. We also have non-physical phenomena. If you with malice slap me, then I get angry. Malice and anger are non-physical, but they are the result of an action. If I work very hard and do certain things, then I receive a certain result, such as a paycheck. After cashing the paycheck, I could pay rent, pay utilities and buy food.
Action has results but it's important to realize that specific action has specific results, results that are related to the action.
If I say "A tree is there," but no tree is there, my action of speaking those words does not put the tree there. The action must be proper for the results. If I get a seed and it is alive, and I put it into the ground, and it gets proper nourishment, water, warmth and sunlight, then it will grow. I can produce a tree by doing what it takes to produce a tree. I cannot produce a tree by doing what it takes to feed an elephant.
Fourth Premise Ė Everything Is Limited
The very existence of something implies – demands – the non-existence of that item somewhere. Just because a tree is here does not mean the tree is everywhere and everything is that tree. A tree is here. That tree is not there.
This implies falsehood and lies. If I say a tree is here but in fact a tree is not here, that is false. If I knew it was a falsehood when I said it, then that is a lie.
Those four premises:
- We Do Exist
- Anything Is Itself
- Action Has Results
- Everything Is Limited
are the basis of functioning and succeeding in this world. From those we find wisdom, success, health, happiness and truth. We separate right from wrong and good from evil. We can make statements that are true and accurate. We can analyze, search and discover.
That is why some people know what they are talking about in controversial subjects, such as politics, and others do not. Those people, who have taken the time to break down a subject into its simplest terms, identify them, and build on them, are the ones who usually know what they are talking about. Those people whose opinions are based on hearsay arguments of others do not have the same authority as the people who know. And unfortunately, it is people working on uninformed opinion only are usually the ones who assume that because theirs is an opinion therefore anything that anybody else says is also only an opinion.