Sunday, 5 May 2013

Theories of Knowledge- from beginning to end


Theories of Knowledge
Recap.
I have previously argued that:
1)    We primarily "know" the World through interaction with it, by changing and being changed by it. (1)
2)    Secondarily, we know the World through the backwards and forwards movement of reasoning from what we "know" to what we don't. (2)
3)    Thirdly, that the objective and invisible World, that surrounds us all is knowable. Knowable through our internal senses (and sometimes external senses) when we act selflessly yet whilst being centred & concerned with the World that surrounds us.  (As opposed to being selfless, accepting fate and not acting to better oneself and the lives of those around us.) And secondarily in more detail when we accept revelation as a source of detailed knowledge about the greater unknown.(2)
4)    That empirical knowledge of the World, whose greatest proponent is Science and lesser proponent is Materialism, is limited in that it can answer all of the fundamental questions we can ask about our World bar one. That one is the question of "Why?", which intimates something hidden.(3)

A Hierarchy of Questions.
Of the six fundamental questions we can ask about our World four of them concern empirical/ observable fact. Our answers to "What, When, Who and Where?" may well change as our ideas and perceptions develop, but in essence they ask for a snapshot and concern themselves not with change.

However "How?" asks for an explanatory mechanism of causality. And "Why?" asks for something of deeper significance concerning "hidden" intentions and the causal reasons for things.

"How?" and "Why?" act to join the dots between the other four fundamental questions. "How?" addresses the question of causality with respect to what is nearer and more visible, whereas "Why?" addresses the same questions of causality but to what is more distant and less visible.

And so it is that there is a hierarchy to the questions that we can ask about our World that is given by its relation to causality (the very stuff and essence of time and memory).

The "Why?"s are greater than the "How?"s which are greater still than the rest.

This natural hierarchy that exists within our questions lends order to the knowledge that can be gleaned by their asking.

Sciences as Knowledge.
Science whilst attempting to answer the crucial "WHY?" gets only as far as "HOW?" and generates yet more "Whats?" (Whens, Whos and Wheres) in the process.(3)

It is this generative quality of the Sciences that has proven to be its greatest asset. By it we come to explore different ways of looking at old things, and discover new relationships between things that we once thought were un-related.

Furthermore if Science were to have answered, or could ever have answered, the question of WHY what then of progress? Would it not stop?

And so Science answers not "Why?s", but "How?s".

A general "How?" then Why Not a general "Why?".
Materialists in realising this failure of Science with respect to questions of "Why?" have ever sought to nullify the importance of such questions.

They would have us believe that the question of "Why?" is only relevant when applied to wilful agents (man) and their intentions. And that the question of "Why?", being raised for other than that, is just another reflection of Man's ancient egotism (the apex of which is an anthromorphic ORIGINATOR of all).

Are we then asked to believe that the chicken became without an egg, that wilfulness spontaneously erupted into existence. And this is especially unacceptable coming from a tradition (Science) which at its most rudimentary is observation. For ALL of observation points to things becoming things.

Even in the chasm of Supernova SCIENCE has found the seeds that lie within. Is it possible then to seriously say that wilfulness exists within a vacuum, is and of itself? That the question of "Why?" should, and can, only ever be applied to man's inner intentions.

However, there is a system of knowledge that exists distinct from the inner intentions of man that does provide fulfilment to the questions of "Why?".


Fulfilling the "Why?"s and "Wherefore?"s.
That system of knowledge is the study of Ethics, whose central precept is:
"Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself".

We, all of us, instinctively know the right of that saying. And all ethical appellations to that, by way of argument, fulfil our need of "Why?".

"Why should I keep trust?"
"Because, you should do unto others as you would have done unto yourself" is sufficient as an answer.

Ethics and Religion.
The fundamental teaching, of all true religions, is ethics.

The first command sent down upon Muhammad (saw) was not to destroy the false Meccan idols, but to make the people happy.

Happiness is a state of mind and Muhammad (saw), the patron of the Meccan poor and destitute, was commanded to remind them of how much they had to be grateful for. To make them happy not solely by giving materially, but more importantly reminding them of GOD's bountiful grace upon them.(4)

With regard to the Qur'an (the revelation sent down upon Muhammad (saw)), the vast majority of it deals with the rights of man upon man (as compared to the rights of GOD over man).

However rights and obligations concern justice and law, whereas ethical concerns are broader. For ethics encompasses all of social interaction.

Ethics and Law.
Muhammad (saw), in his wisdom, sublimely tied all this together when he (saw) said "A brother wishes for his brother (his fellow man) what he wishes for himself!" And by this standard, Justice and Law, the bedrock of all civilization could never be submerged under a wave of overtly divine ethics (Because to wish for a thing is different from giving a thing). Whilst at one and the same time ethical considerations became paramount; that you might seek to help your brother attain what you have attained.


Self-Evident Truths.
That we all possess, within our hearts, the means of recognizing the evils of injustice and oppression is sufficient argument that the question of "Why?" is relevant outside of individuals and present within the collective.

And if it is present within the collective, then how can it not have been present before the collective?

And this is maybe one of the reasons why ALLAH t'ala (GOD, most High) says many a time in the Qur'an: "And ALL things WE have created in (of, with) Truth."

Man is but one of those things created with and of Truth, knowing full well what it is.(5)

And ALLAH t'ala further says:
"(ALLAH t’ala) He (it is who) created Death & Life to see which of you is best in Deed."

The greatest expressions of TRUTH are the Denials of Falsehood.
And the worst of falsehoods, uttered against this universal truth, is Tyranny and Oppression.

Religion a Force for Change.
So it is that when True Religion stands against oppression and tyranny it can be the greatest force for change in this World. And likewise True Religion is, and can be, the greatest force for change within our own selves.

When we return to the central tenet of this system of knowledge we remember that we primarily know through the interaction between our World and our Selves. That True Religion is a true motivator in changing this World for the better is but one example of its fulfilment in the role of being a fundamental Knowledge-Provider.

Shafi.
References below are to previous blogs:
(1): "I think therefore I am"

(2): "The Invisible World"

(3):Part One: “Life & Fractals.”

AND
      Part Two: “Life & Fractals Contd.”

AND
      “Frankenstein & the Lode-Stone”

(4): “Do Muslims Love to Hate”

(5): “Primordial Knowledge.”

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