In a previous article I spoke of what I called the “environment of truth” (see my article Thoughts on the ‘assembly-line life’ and the ‘assembly-line scholar’, with remarks about “the environment of truth”). In that article I stated two sayings of mine:
“The conditions dictate the truth.”
“The conditions dictate the interpretation.”
This means that the conditions of the situation end up determining the interpretation and what is true. If those conditions change then the interpretation changes and so does the truth it preaches. It means that a lot of what I thought was “truth” is not truth at all, but an interpretation dictated by the conditions. This means that any “truth” is more a reflection of the conditions than an “ultimate truth”.
THE NATURE OF CONDITIONS
When I say “conditions” it means the qualities that make up the general environment that is prompting the need for the knowledge or “truth”. This more or less means that any knowledge or “truth” is reacting to some situation, condition, or quality. Knowledge and “truth” is therefore reactive. In other words, knowledge and “truth” does not exist on its own . . . they are dependent on something else for its creation.
Some forms of conditions include:
- From existence: awareness. This is the condition of existing, of being aware of ones existence. It tends to be philosophical or religious in quality.
- Internal: need-based. This refers to the conditions created by something a person desires or has to have. It tends to be personal in orientation.
- External: situational. This is conditions created outside of oneself. This could be in ones general environment, social conditions, or ones situation. It tends to be out of ones control. In fact, a lot of knowledge and “truth”, here, is directed to gain a control.
It becomes clear that knowledge and “truth” are critical for an association with the world. Being reactive, it established a relationship. One could say that this is the primary value of knowledge and “truth”.
To me, knowledge is primarily a “know-how”. Its a “know-how” that does things like:
- How to do something
- How to interpret something
- How to solve something
This “know-how” allows a person to live in the world.
I should note that knowledge entails a “directedness” which requires a self. Knowledge without this “directedness” is useless. As a result of this, knowledge is closely associated with self. In actuality, knowledge is the servant of the self. As a result of this, knowledge is not really referring to “knowing” but, rather, to the self or, rather, a person whose self directs knowledge. That person, perhaps, could be said to be “knowledgeable”. This fact shows an illusion with knowledge. A person can “know something” and not be “knowledgeable” (that is, with a self) . . . it takes a self to be “knowledgeable”. This fact is very evident, nowadays, as many people are “programmed” with knowledge but have no self.
There are several origins of this “know-how”:
- Instinctual knowing. This refers to an innate ability to know things, such as hot and cold. Its generally wordless and is an automatic reaction, often without ones control.
- A learned wordless knowing. This is a learning of things that is wordless, such as walking.
- Conceptual knowing. This tends to use words and imagery, as in mythology, ideas, concepts, etc.
One could say that “know-how” is reflective of ability, it reflects a doing, and that’s all it reflects. Again, it is the self that directs “know-how” toward specific directions and gives it value and worth.
“Truth” established a “know-how” that is critically important in some way. In other words, it tends to hit deeper into ones psyche. In this way, “truth” tends to refer to internal and more personal realities and not to external realities. Because of this, they often take on a more religious or philosophical tone.
Some origins of “truth” include”
- Existence. This refers to an awareness of ones existence and what it means.
- Self-preservation. This refers to something that instigates a sense of self-preservation in ones self.
- Instinct. This refers to something that instigates some form of wordless instinctual response.
The effect of these is to make the “know-how” more than a know-how but have greater meaning and value. In many cases, the “truth” transcends or goes beyond the “know-how”. In other words, the “know-how” is only a symbol or reference to “something deeper” which is often wordless or unknowable.
EXAMINING THE “ENVIRONMENT OF TRUTH”
Often, when I hear some “truth”, or knowledge, I look at the conditions that surround it. In other words, I look at the “environment which creates it”. This is the “environment of truth”. I look at things such as:
- The conditions that created it. Why was it important at all?
- The conditions that keep it relevant. Why does it remain relevant?
- The conditions that make it relevant to me. What makes it relevant to me?
To me, these are often more revealing than the actual knowledge or “truth” itself. In some cases, you can only understand the knowledge or “truth” by looking at the environment that created it. Sometimes, it makes the knowledge or “truth” make more sense.
Often, the “environment” reflects these types of conditions:
- The person who came up with it. Generally, the knowledge or “truth” a person creates only has value to them unless it happens to be applied to a situation or appeals to someone.
- The situation that its reacting to.
- The quality about it that appeals to me. This makes any knowledge and “truth” that I find important, regardless of its origin, something I want to remember and use.
AN EXTENSION OF SELF
Oftentimes, knowledge and “truth” become a means of an extension of self. To put it another way, it “speaks” about something within us. As a result, we relate with it. In this way, it becomes as if an extension of us.
This extension of self can have good and bad effects. In some cases, it can help us discover more about our self. But, on the other hand, it can destroy us (see below). Socially, this extension of self can unite people in a group or in a cause . . . the knowledge or “truth” being reflected in a belief or cultural identity, for example. At other times, it can divide people . . . such as two opposing belief systems.
THE LURE AND ILLUSION OF KNOWLEDGE AND “TRUTH” WITHOUT SELF
The ease of equating our self with knowledge and “truth”, without a self, is often very strong. In fact, its almost too easy. One of the problems this causes is a tendency to equate oneself with knowledge (see my article Thoughts on my statement: “I am not knowledge” – aspects of knowledge in relation to the self and the importance of intuition). In this way, we as if confuse our self with the knowledge and “truth”. It becomes our identity, the image of who we are. This can have adverse effects such as:
- An alienation
- A disconnectedness with our self
- We become mechanical, almost robot-like
- We become rigid and unchanging
These actually undermine or destroy the self. In this way, knowledge and “truth”, without a self, is like a death. This is because it is a neglect of the self and to have no self is a form of death.
It seems that one of the reasons for the lure of knowledge and “truth”, to the point that it causes a death of self, is because they reflect a relationship with the world. A successful form of knowledge and “truth” establishes a good relationship with the world and causes a sense of security-in-the-world. As a result, many people feel this sense of security as more important than a self and, accordingly, feel its lure and let the knowledge and “truth” become their self. In so doing, they neglect the self. What this reveals is that knowledge and “truth” not only establish a relationship with a world but a sense of security in the world. It shows that, in some cases, this need for a sense of security is so strong that the security knowledge and “truth” offers is more important than the self.
THE EFFECTS OF RECORDED KNOWLEDGE
When knowledge is “recorded” it sometimes creates problems. By “recorded” I mean that someone records it in some way such as by writing it down. Recorded knowledge tends to “seal in stone” the conditions that created that knowledge. Once this happens it is now unchanging and constant. But, later, people may read it and follow it as if it were gospel. The problem is that their conditions are not the same as the conditions that created the knowledge. In this way, recorded knowledge tends to cause a“disconnect of conditions” . . . the conditions that caused it do not match the conditions of people who read it and follow it.
Some of the effects this causes include:
- They falsely interpret things
- They become misguided
- They alienate themselves with current conditions
- They conform to it, for good or bad
Because of the prevalence of recorded knowledge, nowadays, I feel this is far more a serious issue than it may seem.
Often, what people with recorded knowledge is that they see things in recorded knowledge that somehow reflect current conditions. In this way, they “reinterpret” recorded knowledge according to current conditions. This is one reason why a document, such as the Bible, is interpreted differently over and over again. In this case, the current conditional “environment” causes a “reinterpretation” of recorded knowledge, again showing that “environment” determines knowledge and what is “true”.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen