I personally find it appealing the idea that we are born with all potential knowledge, and like a hotel with many doors it’s up to us to find the keys and unlock the chambers of knowledge. Some keys may be hidden, depending on our perceptions and opportunities and to close minded people, there are doors that we don’t even want to open. The doors are not all easy accessible, some need more effort to open, some are completely hidden, and some require tools to get to.
- P1: We are born with all potential knowledge
The idea that we are born with all potential is innatism. Innatism is a philosophical and epistemological doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a “blank slate” at birth, as early empiricists such as John Locke claimed. The Blue Brain Group in Switzerland conducted an experiment and discovered a synaptic organizing principle that groups neurons in a manner that is common across animals and therefore, independent of individual experience, they also found that the groups of neurons, or cell assemblies, appear consistently in the Neocortices of animals and are essentially cellular “building blocks”. This reinforces the idea that learning, perception, and memory are a result of putting these pieces together rather than forming new cell assemblies. Plato also supports this idea with his Theory of The Forms.
- P2: Through personal experiences and the experiences of others, we strive to our potential
We learn through our personal experiences or vicariously through others, whether that’s in reading, a lecture or speaking to that person. As one learns through rationalization, first-hand experience or second-hand experience, we are striving to our full potential of knowledge. By doing this we are creating connections and putting pieces together. We are finding more keys and opening more doors.
- Conclusion: The limits on our knowledge are our limits of perception
We cannot know what we can’t perceive. A blind person may never know the color purple, we can’t truly understand what’s going on in the farthest galaxy. Therefore the limits of our senses, opportunities and perceptions limit our knowledge. Aldous Huxley wrote multiple essays on his experience on the drug Mescalin. Mescalin is a hallucinogenic and intoxicating compound present in mescal buttons from the peyote cactus. This drug as well as magic mushrooms and LSD are hallucinogenic drugs and some are rumored to “open your third eye” or tap into parts of the brain that anyone sober wouldn’t be able to.
“The other world to which mescalin admitted me was not the
world of visions; it existed out there, in what I could see with my eyes open. The great change was in
the realm of objective fact. What had happened to my subjective universe was relatively unimportant.”
– Aldous Huxley
Aldous found that his ability to “think straight” was reduced and that his visual impressions were greatly intensified.
“Though the intellect remains unimpaired and though perception is enormously improved, the will
suffers a profound change for the worse. The mescalin taker sees no reason for doing anything in
particular and finds most of the causes for which, at ordinary times, he was prepared to act and suffer,
profoundly uninteresting. He can’t be bothered with them, for the good reason that he has better things
to think about.” -Aldous Huxley
“When the brain runs out of sugar, the undernourished ego grows weak, can’t be bothered to undertake the necessary chores, and loses all interest in those spatial and temporal relationships which mean so much to an organism bent on getting on in the world”, is how Huxley described an undernourished brain. Huxley found that “Mescalin had endowed me temporarily with the power to see things with my eyes shut” and “Mescalin raises all colors to a higher power and makes the percipient aware of innumerable fine shades of difference, to which, at ordinary times, he is completely blind.” This raises the question: through our abstinent human eyes, are we all blind?
Though anyone can vouch that I have never taken a hallucinogenic drug, I do believe that our knowledge is blocked or limited by the restrictions of our perceptions and I wonder if full knowledge is even possible. To have attained full knowledge, one must have experienced anything and everything.