Kowledge, Ideology, Action

Posted on December 6, 2007

Do we need to know anything to make a difference?

This website provides you with no knowledge. I won’t tell you who’s right and who’s wrong. I won’t point you to other people’s opinions. I won’t tell you what happened.

It could be that knowledge itself is behind the undesirable aspects of our world. It could be that the solution is to become less knowledgeable and more intuitive. It could be that inside all of us exist being that do not need knowledge to act.

Knowledge is always misleading

The thing about knowledge (of the world at large) is that one can never be sure that what one knows is real or not. There is, in this world, no living encyclopedia, updated in real time with the hard facts. When we believe we know something, we are subconsciously placing our trust in the source of our knowledge, and have no way of knowing its fallibility. With so much knowledge floating around the world, acting on knowledge must surely be dangerous. Can we trust our perceptions? The IMF says this and Joseph Stiglitz says that. Who is right? Who was right yesterday? Who will be right tomorrow? If I was to get to the bottom of the matter myself, I would have had to be living in numbers countries over a fifty year period, carefully examining the state of health care, infrastructure, real income, GNH (gross national happiness!) after and before International intervention. For another example take transnational corporations. Are they liberating, enslaving, modernizing or exploiting; all of those together, some of none? How do we know? All we can do is expose ourselves to as much information as we can, and it will never be all of the information we need to know.

And who can do this? No one. Lets say someone has actually done this, how do we know that they have or haven’t? Another lifetime of investigation and verification? No: knowledge is something dangerous to act on. It is always filtered by belief and ideology, which are framework that include, exclude, direct and organize information, automatically, just as our brain presents to our mind what it thinks we need to see rather than what is physically there. No one is infallible or perfect. Humans have weak points, infinitesimal or enormous. We all have ideologies, regardless of whether we know or accept them. They are based on our place in reality, among many other factors that set us apart from others. Tradition, family, genetics, experience, who knows what and to what extent?

Some people may have better knowledge in their heads than others, this is quite obvious. Some ideologies seem more suited to peace (even that seems a bold assumption after those few paragraphs). But on the whole this knowledge will be relatively useless to society at large as it must be palatable enough to be accepted and not so unfamiliar as to be rejected. Too much and the person may seem anti-social or ‘crazy’.

If we let certain knowledge move us to action, couldn’t our action cause more harm then good? Is it better to do nothing? Shouldn’t we then follow the route of inaction, tending towards inaction? Knowledge that we take on board from a third party and let influence our lives must be a retarding factor. Lets say our knowledge brings us to the right place where we are able to make a decision that really changes things to benefit everyone. Can we then rely on our self-indoctrination to respond in the positive way? We may be unsure, confused, or simply in denial, (or shocked to discover that the world actually exists outside our own heads!)

We must have something other than knowledge, deeper, wiser, in tune with others and the surroundings. Shedding knowledge, we become more real, more true to ourselves and others, more effective. Whatever we do must be good for the world.

Thus we would buy less crap, diverting less power to the materialistic aspect of our world. We would spread joy and self-fulfillment, undercutting the power of marketing and excess materialism. Who knows what will change in our world if we move within it without the confusion of knowledge. We might no longer be able to explain away the suffering caused by racism or speciesism, traditional concepts that die away when needs such as for superiority and identity disbands.

The subject matter is getting to confusing for me now, I’ll probably pick this up at some other point.