Tuesday 28 November 2017

Communications are experiences (not knowledge - knowledge is direct)

What we term communications, of all sensory sorts - the spoken or written word, images, sounds - including music, smells, tastes, touch - are not knowledge but are experiences.

Our mortal life is about experiences, and how we respond to them; so communications are very important. But we should not mistake them for knowledge.

Why not? Well, that is obvious - in the sense that we have many generations of philosophical reflection that emphasise how unreliable are communications, that they cannot be relied upon for knowledge (or 'certainty').

This for multiple reasons - to do with limitations of cognition, of biased and incomplete sampling, of the multi-step nature of communications and so on. Some have concluded that therefore there is no possibility of knowledge - e.g. that knowledge is entirely subjective, based on arbitrary information, a matter of opinion, contingent, labile, uncommunicable etc.

But the inference that there because communication is non-valid therefore there can be no knowledge includes a false assumption - which is that only the material world exists.

It is correct that since communications are all material, and they are indeed non-valid, communications are no basis for knowledge - but this leaves-out the non-material ('immaterial', 'spiritual') world, the world that cannot be (or is not, currently) detected by our senses - and is also undetected by the instruents of science.

We assume that this non-material world does not exist - but that is merely an assumption; furthermore a very modern and entirely Western assumption; an assumption restricted to a tiny temperospatial proportion of human reality...

If we instead assume that there is a further reality outwith the sensed and currently-detected material reality; then knowledge may be assumed to exist in this larger reality.

In other words, knowledge may be real (and vital) but not communicated.

This can be understood in terms of knowledge being directly-down, without any mediation; and if knowledge is to be more than delusion, the knowledge that is directly-known is one, single realm of knowledge - in principle, although not in every instance, all knowledge is universally knowable.

So here we have two very different things: one is the world of communications, which we ought to regard as experiences, or - in a sense as challenges to which we are called-upon to respond correctly... And on the other hand knowledge, which is only knowable by direct apprehension (which we could call intuition).

To know directly is possible, even if it is unusual - and this opens-up that line of metaphysical theory that I have been exploring as Primary Thinking.

One implication is that when we personally are communicating, we are providing experiences for others - but we are not transmitting knowledge. By contrast, when we are engaged in primary thinking we are engaged in direct knowing - and, because knowledge must potentially be universally accessible to be knowledge, others may also know directly what we know.

Thus knowledge is not communicated, and communications are not knowledge - this is useful to remember!


MultiplayerMario64 said...

This seriously resonates with the thinking of David Bohm in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order. Obviously he is speaking in terms used by a phycisist which might be off putting but the similarities are quite striking nevertheless. The way he describes what you’re saying here is by describing it as an act of understanding similar to the dance of the bees where the knowledge is just a pointer, not the real deal, the honey. No need to publish this comment, just wanted to chime in with this fascinating piece! Thank you and God bless!

Bruce Charlton said...

@MM64 - Thanks - If you aren't already aware, Owen Barfield (one of my mentors in this line of work) was greatly influenced by David Bohn, they were friends, and Bohm's general ideas appear in some detail in Barfield's philosophical dialogue Unancestral Voice, in the last few chapters.

Gregory DeVore said...

How do you apply this to divine revelation in Scripture?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gregory - If I understand your question... Some of the prophets had direct knowledge of aspects of reality and did their best to communicate it, from the limitations of their humanity, in context.

God intervened to preserve the communications of these prophets; and sometimes modern individuals may, by a combination of choice, effort, empathy etc - be able to read these commuications and 'stand-beside' the prophets, and regard aspects of reality as they did.

They point (communication), we look (direct knowing) - and we may therefore see as they did.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I think that the paradigm of the scientific method is useful here. "Truth" which can be communicated is descriptions of experiments by which we may attempt to verify a result. We do not receive our Primary experience by merely hearing the description of the experiment, but by ourselves attempting the described experiment and experiencing the result. As Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

Not all of the actions by which we construct an experiment are overtly physical, there are presentations of our will in subjection to God's commandments which are entirely psychological, such as obedience to the Tenth Commandment (among others). Still, the principle holds, we are not told directly what the experience of living free of covetousness is like, but rather told to stop coveting and find out.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - Good comment.