Black People : Knowledge and Disillusionment

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by river, May 25, 2008.

  1. river

    river Watch Her Flow MEMBER

    United States
    Mar 22, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Where the Niger meets the Nile
    We generally admire people who do not change.We label those who abandon ideas with adjectives like wishy-washy and double-minded. But is it not arrogant for a human to think his knowledge is complete and immutable? Is it fair to denigrate those who respond to new knowledge that brings previous knowledge into question?

    Knowledge is like time. Because of our human limitations we must experience reality in a linear progression which we call time. Because of this irreversible, linear experience of reality we must perceive of it moment by moment and each moment brings us a new reality. Only in our minds can we compare one moment to another and draw connections to create one monolithic REALITY.

    Knowledge is the same way. We don't get it all at once. some times new knowledge seems to contradict or be preclusive to previous knowledge. At that point we experience what psychologist call cognitive dissonance. We feel compelled to either reject the new knowledge and cling for dear life to the previous knowledge, abandon the previous knowledge and embrace the new knowledge with an aversion that borders on hatred for the previous knowledge or become disillusioned and decide there is no knowledge, no truth, all is vanity. But by limiting our options to these three parameters we bring on ourselves a great deal of needless emotional pain and mental distress.

    There is another way of understanding knowledge that is far less distressful and will actually lead to a mature serenity. This way of understanding knowledge rests on what is called the dialectic approach.. This approach has three parts to it: the thesis, the antithesis and the synthesis. the thesis might be any concept which we accept as truth. The antithesis is that new information which challenges the veracity of the previously accepted concept. We arrive at the synthesis when we analyze and compare the thesis and antithesis with each other and with other information, previous or new, in order to discern their relationship and finally come up with a new concept which synthesizes them. The first three methods discussed above see only the thesis and antithesis without doing the mental/intellectual work necessary to produce the synthesis.

    Why should we do all that work? why not just keep life simple by defending one concept and rejecting the other? Because defending a concept without synthesizing it with other concepts is both dishonest and lazy. although this method may feel more comfortable in the short run and will certainly win the approval of social groups which espouse that concept, in the long run it will lead to lack of personal growth, intolerance of others who espouse different concepts and throughout history had even led to war, genocide and oppression.

    Above I have used the word "finally" to the synthesis. Actually there is nothing final about the synthesis. It is an ongoing and recursive process. So if we can never come to a final knowledge does that mean there is no true knowledge, no truth, that all is after all vanity? Before we go there we should look at the purpose for knowledge. we don't, or at least should not pursue knowledge solely for the sake of having knowledge. That would be vanity for after all, as Neely Fuller points out, if we live long enough we will forget everything we know anyhow. We gain knowledge so that we can grow in the areas where we need to. Each of us needs to grow in a different area of our lives at different times. So the Creator gives us different experiences, and thus different concepts and different knowledge to produce growth in the areas where we need it. For instance, I may be a greedy person. Then I need experiences that will teach me not to value material things so much. On the other hand you might be a careless person and need experiences that teach me to value the things with which I have been blessed. We dishonor the Creator and do disservice to ourselves when we decide these concepts are incompatible and go to war to destroy the knowledge given to the other person. .