Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


A lesson on the importance of Unagi – Epistemology – Alejandro

After the reading and the discussion segments I am not certain about the route I should take to tackle the subject. For the “Knowledge is…” activity, I mentioned that:

  • Knowledge is a step needed in the acquisition of wisdom
  • Knowledge is an invitation to ignorance
  • Knowledge is a double edge weapon(weakness and power)

I decided to stick to my first option, “Knowledge is a step needed in the acquisition of wisdom”(which originally was knowledge is THE first step to acquiring wisdom).Throughout my research and some of the discussions, the rest of my “Knowledge is…” alternatives kept coming up so they will be considered as official sub-topics and further research will be conducted on them.

The acquisition of knowledge is an important step that needs to be taken in order to obtain wisdom. But what is knowledge? Knowledge is information that has been processed and absorbed by an individual. To put it into perspective think of a flyer, a pamphlet, or even a book, their contents can only be categorized as information because no-one has read it, therefore the information has not been processed; If someone were to read, analyze and understand their content, then it would become knowledge. If you are having trouble understanding this think of sugar, before we can enjoy sugar the way we know and love it, it must go through a process. It begins as the sugar cane(information), which will then be shredded to extract the molasses-rich crystals(analyzing information), the molasses are then separated from the sugar crystals(the information is understood) and then we end up with sugar!(Knowledge!).

When we are exposed to information we naturally seek to make sense of it, we wish to understand why we need it and why it is useful. Once the information has been processed and understood, it then become knowledge, but when does knowledge become wisdom? It becomes wisdom once we apply that understanding to a suitable event. A good example would be the following:

“Knowledge is understanding that a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”

-William Cassidy

If we go back to our sugar analogy, wisdom would be using the sugar(knowledge) to sweeten a coffee(a situation were our knowledge can be applied), the sweetened coffee would be wisdom(a situation where knowledge was applied and further understanding was acquired through first hand experience).

Knowledge is now a double edge sword, but why? Because we understand the how and why of something as well as the consequences it can and will have as a result of its application. As knowledgeable individuals we can now see flaws in our ways(as an individual and as a community). We can use our knowledge to improve upon our flawed ways or we could take advantage of them and the unique opportunities they present.

Even when we form friendships or join groups, we need to try to include people who might know things we might not know or we know we struggle with on our own. All these are aspects of learning and teaching. There is a large body of knowledge circulating in the world today that is very attractive but has little chance of making the world better for the majority of its people.

-Gibson Sakong

At times we will not possess the knowledge on how to improve but our understanding of the situation will expose the flaws. Under this very conditions we will witness things that no-one around us will be able to see, things that are not right, things that bring us pain just by knowing that they are real and that have been around and undisturbed for years.

Knowledge then becomes an invitation for ignorance. Ignorance is the real-life equivalent of “double-think” from George Orwell’s 1984. We lie to ourselves and to others in order to cope with our inability to do something about the issue(s). We know we could investigate, and seek out the appropriate information to improve our society and ourselves but is much easier to just look away. In Voltaire’s song “Crusade” the theme is explored a bit more in-depth. I will not spoil the song but it pretty much demonstrates how when at war(or any kind of conflict), one or both sides will demonize the other in order to reduce the amount of guilt felt from behaving/reacting in a certain fashion, among other things.

Last but not least, I would like to mention the conversation I had with Courtney which I found to be extremely relate-able to my topic. Courtney’s theory of knowledge is that “it is all around us all the time and we absorb it subconsciously”. I partially agree with her, but I consider the thing which surrounds us all the time to be information. I believe that we do indeed absorb some of that information subconsciously and because of its subliminal consumption it can also be subconsciously turned into knowledge. However not everyone will experience such process, for it requires a very specific set of circumstances and environmental triggers as well as certain personal characteristics, in order for the process to be carried out successfully and for the individual to be able to recall such experiences.


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