OldDog

What We Think We Know

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It is not often that I initiate a thread but in light of recent discussions I thought it would be worthwhile exploring what we think we know.

 

My hope ... and my request ... is that in his thread is that we limit discussion to how we know what we know ... rather than the content of what we know. Let this be an exploration ... a personal introspection ... of sources of knowledge, validation of truth and reality and mechanisms at work in shaping what we know.

 

For some time now, I have been thinking about these things, as part of my own personal introspection, believing that a better understanding of such things will better equip me to deal with the world out there.

 

One of the writings that helps set a launch point for of such introspection comes from Zhuangzi on The Futility of Argument.

 

Granting that you and I argue. If you get the better of me, and not I of you, are you necessarily right and I wrong? Or if I get the better of you and not you of me, am I necessarily right and you wrong? Or are we both partly right and partly wrong? Or are we both wholly right and wholly wrong? Since you and I cannot know, we all live in darkness.

 

Whom shall I ask to judge between us? If I ask someone who takes your view, he will side with you. How can such a one arbitrate between us? If I ask someone who takes my view, he will side with me. How can such a one arbitrate between us? If I ask someone who differs from both of us, he will be equally unable to decide between us, since he differs from both of us. And if I ask someone who agrees with both of us, he will be equally unable to decide between us, since he agrees with both of us. Since you and I and other men cannot decide, how can we depend upon another? The words of arguments are all relative; if we wish to reach the absolute, we must harmonise them by means of the unity of God, and follow their natural evolution to the end of our days.

 

    - trans. Lin Yutang

 

Zhuangzi presents a fairly straight forward simple analysis, really quite basic, that we can all find some agreement in. But the world we live in is not so simple. It is highly complex for any number of reasons. Even relying on provable facts and well reasoned knowledge does not always serve us well. Very much leaves us feeling like we live in darkness ... and for good reason.

 

So, how are we to know? How are we to find our way? I think we need to raise our level of sophistication in terms of understanding the dynamics involved in seeking and obtaining knowledge. This is where I think social philosophy or social psychology can be helpful.

 

I don't usually tend to cross post from other sources (slap me back if I am violating a rule)  but today I ran into an article that provided a framework for understanding the kind of dynamics we (TDBs) have been experiencing lately. I hope you will take time to read it. In spite of the title, it contains ideas that are universally applicable.


https://aeon.co/essays/why-its-as-hard-to-escape-an-echo-chamber-as-it-is-to-flee-a-cult

 

I look forward to hearing from y'all on these kinds of ideas.

 

Kind regards.

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1 hour ago, OldDog said:

but in light of recent discussions I thought it would be worthwhile exploring what we think we know.

 

A vast topic, Old Dog. I've found Carl Jung's explorations particularly helpful in this regard. But it seems he's little read by other Bums and there's no way I can distill the essence of his wisdom into any sort of cogent reply.   What's most encouraging for me about your OP is the actual fact that you're wanting to explore the workings of our human psyche, both personally and collectively.   

 

“The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and the “sin qua non” [indispensable ingredient] of the world as an object. It is in the highest degree odd that Western man, with but very few - and ever fewer - exceptions, apparently pays so little regard to this fact. Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the subject of all knowledge [the psyche] has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming nonexistence.”   - Carl Jung 

 

[Jung understands psyche as the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious.  He uses the term ‘psyche’ rather than ‘mind’, since mind is used in common parlance to refer to the aspects of mental functioning which are conscious. Jung maintained that the psyche is a self-regulating system (like the body).   For Jung, the psyche strives to maintain a balance between opposing qualities while at the same time actively seeking its own development or as he called it, individuation.]
 

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18 minutes ago, Yueya said:

I've found Carl Jung's explorations particularly helpful in this regard.

 

Indeed, one could spend a lifetime on Carl Jung alone. Interestingly, he was highly influential in a number of areas besides psychiatry. It's not uncommon to find references to him when studying physics, in the form of philosophy of science. He was quite influential among leading thinkers of his time and his work continues to inspire thinkers today. He was very influential in the work of Richard Wilhem (sinologist and translator of the I Ching), the two having collaborated extensively. He wrote the forward to the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching and his influence is especially seen in Wilhelm's lectures on the Book of Changes ... perhaps excessively so.

 

Most all of Jung's work is an exploration of the indiviual psyche. What I find interesting and relevant to today's situation are the contributions of the social psychologists, such as the article cited in the OP.

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I fully agree with your first paragraph. But not:

 

41 minutes ago, OldDog said:

Most all of Jung's work is an exploration of the individual psyche.

 

His was very much an exploration of both the individual and collective psyche. And he fully embraced the spiritual dimension, a vital aspect of reality that academia in general has trouble coming to terms with.  Hence his work is totally relevant to our contemporary situation because, for me, our contemporary problems are not intellectual - that's our cultural strength - they're spiritual. However, we all find meaning in different perspectives. For me, the perspective of the article you reference in you OP is shallow compared to Jung's. It's too intellectual.

 

But really I'm very content to leave it at that. It's not something I want to pursue. One of my personal difficulties that I seek to overcome is that I get overly caught up in the world of ideas. Intellectual understanding is good as far as it goes, but it's feeling connections that give meaning for me.  My feelings allow me to enter the spiritual realm. 

 

The Dao Bums discussion format means we tend to pursue difference, as I'm partly doing here, but that's such a problematic way to connect. However, I know we all do our best with what's available to us. And I'm thankful that this forum, which I'd almost given up on, has been restored to a place I once again feel some affinity with since Sean's intervention. 

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2 hours ago, Yueya said:

... totally relevant to our contemporary situation because, for me, our contemporary problems are not intellectual - that's our cultural strength - they're spiritual.

 

Would you expand on the spiritual aspect some? Not sure I see it.

 

I guess what I do see is that there must be some sort of mass psychology at work that accounts for why we divide into camps, begin demonizing one another and lose ourselves in the ensuing chaos. The linked article begins to explore that.

 

If there is a spiritual dimension thst needs to be considered, I would like to hear it.

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Old Dog, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your contributions on this forum. Thank you.  But when I say I don't want to pursue a topic I mean it. My reasons for not wanting to do so should be clear from my previous post. 

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10 minutes ago, Yueya said:

Old Dog, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your contributions on this forum. Thank you.  But when I say I don't want to pursue a topic I mean it. My reasons for not wanting to do so should be clear from my previous post. 

 

I really like the words down at the bottom of your signature.  'I inquire, I do not assert, I do not here determine anything with final assurance; I conjecture, try, compare, attempt, ask....'

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2 hours ago, manitou said:

 

I really like the words down at the bottom of your signature.  'I inquire, I do not assert, I do not here determine anything with final assurance; I conjecture, try, compare, attempt, ask....'

 

Thank you. I can't take credit for it though. It's the motto of Christian Knorr von Rosenroth. Jung quotes it at the beginning of his essay, The Psychology of the Transference

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Yueya said:

I fully agree with your first paragraph. But not:

 

 

His was very much an exploration of both the individual and collective psyche. And he fully embraced the spiritual dimension, a vital aspect of reality that academia in general has trouble coming to terms with.  Hence his work is totally relevant to our contemporary situation because, for me, our contemporary problems are not intellectual - that's our cultural strength - they're spiritual. However, we all find meaning in different perspectives. For me, the perspective of the article you reference in you OP is shallow compared to Jung's. It's too intellectual.

 

But really I'm very content to leave it at that. It's not something I want to pursue. One of my personal difficulties that I seek to overcome is that I get overly caught up in the world of ideas. Intellectual understanding is good as far as it goes, but it's feeling connections that give meaning for me.  My feelings allow me to enter the spiritual realm. 

 

The Dao Bums discussion format means we tend to pursue difference, as I'm partly doing here, but that's such a problematic way to connect. However, I know we all do our best with what's available to us. And I'm thankful that this forum, which I'd almost given up on, has been restored to a place I once again feel some affinity with since Sean's intervention. 

 

FWIW I see feeling and intellectual understanding as the manifestation of yin and yang operating in our brain/mind, but I think I am on my own in this. 

Edited by Bindi
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Posted (edited)

I learned something from the article concerning the difference between Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles. But, I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with the author's solution to rescuing people from Echo Chambers. It reminds me too much of Nietzsche's declaration of "God is Dead." Nietzsche did not celebrate this conclusion, rather he was concerned that one's loss of worldview would lead to nihilism and despair. For someone to throw away everything they believe and to build it back up again is dangerous, many do not survive the process. It is not easy as I have been going through it myself for many years. As Nietzsche predicted, i fell into nihilism and depression. The good news is that i was able to pull out of my nosedive and I have The Dao Bums to thank for some of that.

 

For Reference:

https://bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/what-nietzsche-really-meant-by-god-is-dead

 

In regard to the original question, I can only say that "I am that I am and/or I will be what I will be." Regardless of what we think we really have no control over what we think it believe, it just happens. This is why I will not insult, belittle, or hate people for what they believe. Some people need their beliefs to survive, to try to destroy a person's entire belief system is dangerous.

Edited by escott
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3 hours ago, Bindi said:

... feeling and intellectual understanding as the manifestation of yin and yang operating in our brain/mind, but I think I am on my own in this. 

 

Maybe not so alone.

 

One of the things I see as a lesson of Daoism is learning to see the world as working through sets of complementary qualities which are dynamic rather than fixed.

 

Along these line,  we are constantly receiving input in the form of what we feel/sense and what we can deduce/reason. I see the mind as active, probing and inquiring, discriminating among the things it observes through the senses ... seemingly yang qualities. The other side of input I think comes from the heart, which receives what is out there and responds through feelings ... seemingly yin qualities. I like the imagery of the notion of heart/mind because it encompasses both feeling and reason. And, as a practice connects well with the Nieye.

 

For purposes in this thread, what we can feel and what we can deduce are both sources of what we know. The linked article is suggesting that we be more critical of where the active, probing mind is obtaining its information. It is suggesting that we evaluate based on trust, a strong component of which sensing the goodwill content of our source. This may be closer to feelings than reason.

 

 

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21 minutes ago, escott said:

For someone to throw away everything they believe and to build it back up again is dangerous, many do not survive the process.

 

Yes, that was my initial critique of the linked article, as well ... and the author does give a nod to that. To throw away everything can quickly lead to an existential crisis ... who can survive that.

 

Knowing that going in, one is somewhat prepared for the sense of nihilism and despair and can understand that is the necessary consequence of turning your worldview upside down. But, as you found out, it is survivable ... and can return you to a state of better self control ... self reliance ... self understanding.

 

For me the key was the word everything. I had to ask myself: How much of my world view is invested in an echo chamber. That's when I realised that there were multiple echo chambers at work. And to break out of one did not necessarily mean giving up everything. I could choose leave the ones that were causing distress and remain in the ones that were helpful. The process could be incremental. Isn't that what we call development ... cultivation?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Infinite Intelligence and Eternal Wisdom is flowing to you at all times. Unconditionally, meaning under any and all conditions. The question is, what are you doing to allow it to flow more freely through you? And the answer is an emotional, energy motional one. If you don't feel very good, you have energy motional, energetic thought patterns which are resistant or self contradictory in nature. If you meditate, and let go of all thoughts, the energy motional relativity between you as a physical being, and that of your own greater non-physical consciousness, as the source within you, of which you are an extension, is becoming less and less. You close that gap, you allow physical and non-physical to come back into full harmonic resonance alignment. Naturally, and effortlessly, automatically. The result is you feel better. Up to, bliss and better. The more often you allow yourself to feel this very good. The more you allow true knowing to flow more fully through you.  This ever more greater allowed realisation, is naturally allowed to happen. It feels very good, because it is compatible with your nature. And if you don't feel very good, you will thus always want to feel better. Because that is the only way you can allow true knowing for yourself. You cannot receive true enlightening realisation from the Source within you and then feel energy motionally heavy. Otherwise they would call it, enheavyniment or something. :lol:

But you do have to learn how to allow it. And meditation is really one of the easiest, and most universally applicable ways for you to do so. Simply focus on anything like a sound, so that you are not offering any thought, and in so doing, allow yourself to receive more Source realised thought, which feel very good. Again, the word allowing is key. You literally don't gotta do anything to allow yourself to receive this greater knowing. You are unconditionally loved.  You just gotta allow these naturally good feeling source realised thoughts to naturally come to you. And you focus on, e.g. A meaningless mantra or sound, to let go of thought, and as you offer no thought, you enter the receiving mode. So in a sense you are energetically "saying", I am now open and willing to receive, unconditional knowing, of the source within me, of my iwn greater non-physical consciousness. Consciously. By doing this. The result is, you receive the greater knowing, naturally and effortlessly, through the path of least resistance, and unconditional love, meaning under any and all conditions. Simply by focusing on anything, long enough, that you release all thoughts which don't allow this greater knowing to flow more fully through you. For your very own evermore allowed greater realisation of all that you truely are being and becoming. And again, if you don't feel EXTREMELY GOOD. You are simply thinking that you are meditating. So try to focus more consistently, by constantly replacing your awareness on the object of focus, and hold it there. Simply be aware of the sound and stay aware FULLY of the sound. As you need thoughtless time to allow your energy to be readjusted, you don't gotta do anything to allow this to happen. The only goal is to simply focus consistently enough on whatever your object of awareness and consistently held attention and awareness. If you feel emotional relief, it is a sign you are meditating correctly, releasing resistant self contradictory perspective, and are thus allowing a more greater fully allowed realisation Source aligned thought of true knowing. It is a stream of energy motional knowing. That feels very good when you ALLOW it to flow more fully through you. You allow it by also allowing yourself to enjoy how good it feels. That's how you know you are allowing it to flow more fully through you. At first you just feel very good, cause you meditated correctly. And that means, it's a done deal. Because it is literal LAW of energy in motion, that that good feeling emotion, will turn into fully realised Source aligned thought. Of infinite intelligence and eternal wisdom. The more often you allow yourself to feel good, the more you allow this infinite intelligence to flow through you. It feels good because it is compatible with your true nature, as you are a literal extension of it. 

Edited by Everything
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Posted (edited)
On 8/8/2019 at 10:50 PM, OldDog said:

there must be some sort of mass psychology at work that accounts for why we divide into camps, begin demonizing one another and lose ourselves in the ensuing chaos.

 

I think the main driver, not just now but also in the past, is Scarcity (or at least, the perception of it). When people start believing that there is not enough to go around they get scared and start choosing sides and forming allegiances. Given that there are 7.7 billion people on this planet and still increasing this may be a correct assumption. Or is it? Maybe our real problem is that we just can't agree on a solution and are, therefore, victims of mismanagement. Why can't we agree on a solution to our problems? Fear of scarcity, again. Fear that one side will win and the other side will lose (a zero sum game).

 

But, to get more back on topic, what is the world teaching us right now? It's teaching us that psychopaths win the game! Is this new? I don't think so. Sometimes i wish i could be a psychopath, but I can't, for some reason I care about people and don't want to hurt anyone. I feel sad when I see people suffering. I want to help.

 

But how do we really know what we know? Remember that old Eddie Murphy movie, 'Trading Places'? The bet was whether genetics or environment determined if a person would be successful. In fact, it's both. We are all born with a base configuration and set of abilities. After that, we process our experiences using the physical structure we were given. Things that effect us in a highly emotional way get weighted more significantly in how we evaluate future situations. Over time our thinking takes shortcuts to save time and we function on autopilot using this "internal operating system". I've had to think about this a lot as I have a child on the Autism spectrum with sensory processing issues. I ask, "how does he see the world?" He does not perceive the world the way a "normal" person (if there is such a thing) sees the world.

Edited by escott
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6 hours ago, Everything said:

That feels very good when you ALLOW it to flow more fully through you. You allow it by also allowing yourself to enjoy how good it feels. That's how you know you are allowing it to flow more fully through you. At first you just feel very good, cause you meditated correctly. And that means, it's a done deal. Because it is literal LAW of energy in motion, that that good feeling emotion, will turn into fully realised Source aligned thought. Of infinite intelligence and eternal wisdom. The more often you allow yourself to feel good, the more you allow this infinite intelligence to flow through you. It feels good because it is compatible with your true nature, as you are a literal extension of it. 

 

 

ALLOW.  That seems to be the gist of all of it.  I'm glad you mentioned that.  I'm going to be working with a woman today who lives across the street - she is an absolute nervous wreck.  Her mind races constantly, she is a nervous talker as well.  I am going to start her out on meditation today; I just want to try and get her to empty her mind and relax her body for at least 30 seconds, lol.  Glad you said 'allow' because I think that word will resonate with her.  She's pretty much a control freak, so the concept of Allowing will be foreign to her.  That's where I'll come in.  Thanks.

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3 hours ago, escott said:

I think the main driver, not just now but also in the past, is Scarcity (or at least, the perception of it).

 

Scarcity can certainly be a motivator and group affiliation can help address that. But scarcity, at least in American society is not huge an issue as it may be in other countries.

 

I tend to think sometimes that there is some sort of mass identity crisis going on. Perhaps scarcity in the sense that many people do not have enough faith or trust in their own individuality, their own capability. They seek an outside source of identity through group affiliation. They need to belong because finding themselves is such hard work.

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1 minute ago, OldDog said:

 

Scarcity can certainly be a motivator and group affiliation can help address that. But scarcity, at least in American society is not huge an issue as it may be in other countries.

 

I tend to think sometimes that there is some sort of mass identity crisis going on. Perhaps scarcity in the sense that many people do not have enough faith or trust in their own individuality, their own capability. They seek an outside source of identity through group affiliation. They need to belong because finding themselves is such hard work.

 

The key phrase here concerning the situation in the U.S. is "perception of scarcity". In this case it is Jobs. One group is being convinced that the other group is taking their jobs, their money, and their opportunity for a prosperous future.

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5 minutes ago, escott said:

In this case it is Jobs.

 

You may be right ... But I don't think it is because it is "them" that are taking the jobs away as much as it is that the nature of jobs is changing. It takes less people to produce due to technological advances. It is technology that is displacing workers. So, yeah, I can see your point of scarcity. Scarcity of sufficient work to engage the number of people we have to support.

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I like the following quote from the shared article:

 

Quote

Let’s call the modernised version of Descartes’s methodology the social-epistemic reboot. In order to undo the effects of an echo chamber, the member should temporarily suspend all her beliefs – in particular whom and what she trusts – and start over again from scratch.

 

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10 minutes ago, ilumairen said:

... social-epistemic reboot ...

 

I like the concept, as well. But a number of questions arise.

 

How does one recognize that they are in need of a reboot?  Are they willing to undergo the isolation ... separation from friends and group support ... necessary to begin working on beliefs? Rebooting is lonely work.

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1 minute ago, OldDog said:

 

I like the concept, as well. But a number of questions arise.

 

How does one recognize that they are in need of a reboot?  Are they willing to undergo the isolation ... separation from friends and group support ... necessary to begin working on beliefs? Rebooting is lonely work.

 

I don't have answers for you, as the reboot I experienced (and continue to experience) was not a willful choice, but an unexpected "unfolding" or "unraveling".. poignant insight into the planting and structuring of beliefs - many of which I hadn't realized I held. 

 

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A study of the foundations of knowledge (if they even exist) could easily take years of study without necessarily leading to a solution. One could start reading books on epistemology, scepticism and the philosophy of science. To make a long story short: I don't think absolutely sure foundations of knowledge can be found. The best thing we can do is keeping an open mind for the possibility that we might be wrong. But how do I even know that the latter is actually the best thing we could do. Well - I don't. But correcting my views when confronted with opposing facts is what feels natural to me. And as I don't know of any other approach that's more satisfying, that is what I do. I have a huge aversion to everything related to herd mentality, so I don't think the social aspects of knowledge acquisition are very relevant to me personally. 

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1 minute ago, wandelaar said:

I have a huge aversion to everything related to herd mentality, so I don't think the social aspects of knowledge acquisition are very relevant to me personally. 

 

Did you read the linked article?

 

We all seem rather dependent upon some form of knowledge acquisition which (in one way or another) has a social aspect.

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I only read part of the article. Of course I'm not completely free from social influences and we each start our journey with what we learned in our education. But that is not the point. The crucial thing here is whether one remains open to contrary evidence even when this conflics with what one considered as probably true until then.

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36 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

I only read part of the article. Of course I'm not completely free from social influences and we each start our journey with what we learned in our education. But that is not the point. The crucial thing here is whether one remains open to contrary evidence even when this conflics with what one considered as probably true until then.

 

While I was mildly interested in possible conversation with you, I find myself retreating from such statements as "that's not the point" and "the crucial thing here."

 

Today I find myself highly sensitive to tone, and even the subtlest form of conversational dominance. Not an indictment of you, but recognition and acceptance of "me."

 

Best wishes

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