Tag Archives: knowledge

The Knowledge I Seek

I am thinking hard about this question of what knowledge I seek. What exactly do I need to know in order to make the changes in the world I am pursuing? What exact knowledge do I need to seek out? There are many academic disciplines in existence. Which contain the information I need? If none do, which are best equipped to create that information?

At core I want a world where deep and critical thinking abounds and where institutions are humanistic. What are the barriers to this? Are they economic, political, psychological, or cultural? Or do barriers exist within each of these realms? Certainly these realms are all interrelated, but where does that leave me? I don’t think this implies that the entirety of the answer lies in systems theory. As for what it does imply, I don’t yet know. Perhaps the key is simply to promote deep and critical thinking and humanistic institutions. Knowledge can be pursued as practice necessitates. Is this indeed the right strategy?

For a long time I’ve had the idea that eventually all of the key pieces of knowledge I’ve gained throughout my life will coalesce into The Answer. Perhaps this idea has unnecessarily led me toward many of the episodes of stress I’ve experienced. But, on the other hand, hard work toward The Answer does sometimes pay off. For example, there is Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Keynes’ General Theory, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. But who says I have to quit my theoretical work while I do my practical work? Matthew Arnold inspected schools while he developed his ideas. John Stuart Mill worked for the East India Company. These are two of my biggest heroes. If they mixed the practical with the theoretical, I don’t see what danger there is in my doing the same.

Knowledge and Ego

It is a common trap to religiously pursue knowledge. We believe we are doing a virtuous thing: we are becoming wise; we are understanding the world at a greater depth. But this pursuit of the greatest understanding is both impossible and a mask wherein the pursuit of superiority is hidden.

The non-egocentric pursuit of knowledge aims at either self-fulfillment or a practical end such as the improvement of a machine or the improvement of a society. Nevertheless, we must be careful because these motives can be intertwined with the egocentric motive. This intertwining makes the destructive egocentric motive much harder to spot. We must therefore keep our awareness sharp in order to defend ourselves against this ego-seducing trap.