The knowledge of ‘what is’
By Dr. Lucio F. Teoxon Jr.
There is a process called defamiliarization, that is, triggering in an individual a mental somersault such that he now sees more truly what heretofore he assumes to have seen all the time.
Indeed, there is a need to shake off the snowblindness deceiving us into thinking that we already know when we do not, or see what we see not. Then perhaps the arrogance of bigotry, the intolerance of one-track mindedness, or the pettiness of intellectual snobbery would give in to the mellowness that comes with the setting in of what could be the beginning of wisdom--to know that one does not know enough and admit it.
Socrates, said to be the wisest of the Greeks, laid no claim to knowledge. He said he knew that he knew not. The irony is that the truly wise profess ignorance, the truly virtuous the first ones not to know they are virtuous. And when the converse of this happens, when the worst, as Yeats put it, are full of passionate intensity, trouble begins.
Then, too, there is a certain presumptuousness in any thought system purporting to say the final word on everything. Reality or ’what is’ cannot be forced into the Procrustean formula of any one particular discipline. In fact, a field of study that does not redefine its conclusions or reexamine its methods may soon become fragmented and find itself irrelevant. At least this should be clear after an acquaintance with Korzybski’s general semantics. Hence, the current vogue of presenting old academic wines in new wineskins: the new journalism, the new mathematics, the new morality, etc. Yet the so-called new is but the old seen through the opposite end of the barrel.
What is needed in the effort to reinvent an effective program of study for our college students is the realization that knowledge is one and its subsequent specializations should not blind us to their essential interrelatedness. No less imperative, if not more so, is the awareness that thought, which is the instrument of knowledge, is itself limited. Only then can we move ahead in our academic journey.