Epistemology is the skeleton of the spiritual body.
Meaningful Epistemology Outline
Our language as human beings directly reflects the way or manner in which we
think and perceive the Universe, both material and spiritual. The very
essence of a word that is a noun is identification and categorization. A
common noun is a categorical description of objects or less tangible things
that we want to identify or describe by association with a certain set of
meaningful qualities or aspects that are identical, equivalent or at least
1. Belief in Self:
If you do not first trust or believe in yourself and your own internal
authority and capacity for judgment, how can you then logically believe in
something external? Your belief in any external authority as being a source
of truth would then be believed in by a person (yourself) that you don't
really trust or believe in.
2. Belief in Truth: The first piece of
believing in truth is to accept that it is exclusive; there is only ONE truth,
not multiple versions. In the world of today, belief in the truth is under attack
simply because it is considered to be relative.
3. Belief in the Way to recognize Truth
or apprehend it by Being:
The pattern for our ontology in some case seems to be triune. As a functioning
mechanical/biological system we can be compared to a computer –we have
Hardware (our biological body), Software (our psyche or soul, the
composite of mind, instincts, propensities, aptitudes, etc), and
Input/Output (our ability to respond and communicate). This triune
pattern seems to hold for Man's intellect, which under sound operation is
rational, logical and reasonable. While being Rational means being
able to distinguish and apprehend the pertinent facts and information of a
situation, being Logical includes being rational and also means being
able to see meaningful relationships between facts and information and to
extrapolate to valid or correct conclusions.
These two lower level intellectual capabilities are meaningless in and of themselves
unless they form the foundation of what is ultimately meaningful, that which
is being Reasonable. This also includes but transcends being
rational and logical by relating to and incorporating a defensible purpose
and set of values which can be called human or humane. Being reasonable
(ultimately meaning right) is so closely bound up with purpose that much of
the time we use the word reason as a substitute for the word purpose.
You can easily get most thinking people to agree that truth is singular; there is
one truth to an issue and everything else is false. This common
possible-to-perceive reality is necessary for us to meaningfully categorize
ourselves as human beings. However, it seems to me that we spend half our
time trying to talk each other into some unified concept of the truth, and
half our time trying to rationalize and excuse our different truths and our
different ways to the truth. What you CANNOT easily get people to
agree on is that there is only ONE way to access the truth, and this is through
the intellect! The truth is apprehended through the mind and is affirmed by
the heart. Could it be that thinking otherwise is the problem?
It is one thing to postulate the existence of truth; it is quite another to postulate
a trustworthy way of accessing or apprehending that truth. How can we be
assured that something is the truth? If the truth walked up to us and shook
our hand, how would we recognize it? Truth without a consistent way of accessing it is
a worthless truth. Truth without a TRUSTED way of accessing it is a
tentative truth. Truth without a common way or methodology of accessing it
is an irrelevant or alien truth.
Many people have their intellectual acknowledgement of truth tethered to their culture,
some to the majority, some to a cultic exposition, some to a set of "sacred
writings", some to tradition, some to various other authorities, etc. Most seem
to be mired in what they were steeped and conditioned in. Is there any
other way to break out of whatever we are mired in than to make the
commitment to be attentive, rational, logical and reasonable by the above definitions?
III. Two Intellectual
There are essentially two realms within which intellectual/spiritual
activity can take place: 1) the realm of things that are initially
knowable from perception, rationality and logic, and 2) the
realm of things that are initially only believable by choice,
using conception and reason. These two realms are sometimes
considered to be the respective purview of science and religion.
While we can learn about ourselves, learning or gaining knowledge is
largely an activity that is primarily conditioned by or dependent on
external factors while being strongly influenced by pre-existing personal
While learning can be INFLUENCED by internal factors such as will and
purpose, you can only learn from that set of pre-existing facts which are
presented to you by the outside world accessible to your perceptions, and
within your intelligence capacity, aptitude and predisposition. Without the
dimension of believing, learning, like being rational and logical, in and of
itself is meaningless in that if all you do is learn knowledge, then all you
become is a bigger database.
In contrast to just learning knowledge, actively BELIEVING (choosing what you believe)
is an activity that can be INFLUENCED by external factors, but CAN
be directed strictly by internal volition working on pre-existing knowledge and issues.
2. Knowledge Categories
Probably that aspect of human nature that is most closely associated with humanness
is our Volition. Volition can be defined as that sacred
quality or attribute and creative power in humans that deals with our
will and desires/needs by consciously choosing what to believe, selecting what to
intend or purpose, refining values, directing thinking and contemplation, corralling
and conditioning our feelings, and deciding
what to do. These are all different aspects of volition and we need words
that are defined well enough so that they will symbolize and ONLY symbolize
whichever one of these aspects we are addressing. In the interest of making
these distinctions available for easy communication the following words
originally had meanings that were close to those that are given below.
of Volitional Aspects
A fully functional human being has volition or free will in that he has power to
choose what to believe and thereby direct his purpose and will and organize his
conscience, which will affect his emotions, behavior and destiny; and he has
power to make decisions within the limits of response to his individual
nature, his perception of conditions and his previously made choices or beliefs.
is that most fundamental and powerful aspect of human volition that operates
in the realm of active believing; where you CHOOSE what to believe; YOU
choose what to believe and do not just passively accept what you are
taught. Choice is the human creative power that allows us
to believe one idea or another in the realm of those things not knowable or
dictated by facts, information and knowledge. Choice of belief is the root
cause of ALL significant change or growth; it determines within
limits our emotions and behavior, it determines within meaningful limits who
and what we really are and what we are becoming, and it effects our living or dying. Choice does not
operate in the arena of feelings, emotions or behavior, but choice engenders
and constrains these.
Choice is that vital aspect of human volition that is
so languishing in much of the human race today, so much so that many even deny
there is such a thing or that it has any meaning in a world where we are
seemingly so controlled by external factors. Many people have an extensive
set of "beliefs" but have never chosen them, have only been programmed with
them and passively accepted them. These are the demi-humans who are not free in the highest sense in
that they are only wound up like toys and pointed by others.
is the mental response to a given state or situation in conjunction with the
conscience which initiates some kind of action, or the lack thereof. The
given situation includes our individual physical, mental and psychological
and emotional disposition, our nature matrix. The range of decisions is
bounded by or determined by limiting factors in the given situation and by
the conscience process resulting from previously made choices, and it
operates in the arena of behavior. In contrast to choice, which is a truly
creative power, decisions are more or less logical outcomes from EXISTING
choices, knowledge and other situational factors.
Conscience is the
science or system process, based on one's knowledge and chosen beliefs, of
systematically culling, sorting out, and building constructs of what is
right and wrong. Conscience operates in the realm of both knowledge and
belief and is the selection process based on acquired values. The resulting
set of values and guidelines is also thought of as our conscience. It is
not a little organ in one's head, but is the result of a continuing process that can be
focused and concentrated, and that can produce change. Nor is it an infallible guide, in that it is
surely restricted to be only as good or valid as the beliefs that have been
chosen and the correct knowledge that has been retained and brought to bear on an issue.
is that aspect of volition which is the combination and culmination of
knowledge and belief, in conjunction with need and desire, that relates to
purpose and values; a person's purpose in conjunction with his values.
Willpower, although influenced by other nature matrix factors, is surely
commensurate with the intensity of conviction concerning the beliefs that are held.
Having been given our nature matrix, traits and characteristics by heredity and an
environment both of which are not of our own selection, the only way WE
can truly affect ourselves fundamentally is to CHOOSE what we believe,
which literally and ultimately determines our will, emotions,
conscience and self-identity. What we
choose to believe in conjunction with our nature matrix determines our
emotions or feelings which determine our behavior, and may determine far
more than what we are aware of..
V. Purpose of Life
The purpose of life is to maximize morale, or as Nikos Kazantzakis in
Zorba put it:
"The aim of man and matter is to create joy."
Any other purpose when compared to this one would look mean and petty at
best, and cruel and despicable at worst.
VI. Philosophical Issues
1. First Principle
a. In order to be meaningful a philosophy must contribute to both the
sustenance and enhancement of life.
2. Fundamental facts
b. There is no such thing as nothing or a beginning of something from nothing;
every belief system must start with something pre-existent.
iv. Greek philosopher Parmenides, "Nothing can come from nothing."
v. Heidegger, "Nothing nothings."
c. The perception and experience of all reality is based on limits, that
is, differences, discontinuities, changes, distinctions and irreversibllities.
So fragmentation is in essence a confusion around the question of difference and
sameness (or one-ness), but the clear perception of these
categories is necessary in every phase of life. To be
confused about what is different and what is not, is to be
confused about everything. Thus, it is not an accident that our
fragmentary form of thought is leading to such a widespread range of
crises, social, political, economic, ecological, psychological, etc., in
the individual and in society as a whole. Such a mode of thought
implies unending development of chaotic and meaningless conflict, in
which the energies of all tend to be lost by movements that are
antagonistic or else at cross-purposes.
Evidently, it is
important and indeed extremely urgent to clear up this deep and
pervasive kind of confusion that penetrates the whole of our
lives. What is the use of attempts at social, political,
economic or other action if the mind is caught up in a confused
movement in which it is generally differentiating what is not
different and identifying what is not identical? Such action
will be at best ineffective and at worst really destructive. - David Bohm,
Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1980, p. 16.
Physical reality is dynamic versus static and it is this dynamic essence that we
experience and apprehend with our five senses. That is to say that there is
no experience of physical reality apart from some dynamic aspect, i.e., some
movement or change, contrast, difference or discontinuity, or
irreversibility. If there were only one color to physical reality, even the
best conceivable eyes would not see anything. Or if there were only one
changeless sound, even the best conceivable ears would hear nothing. Coming
into focus or getting in touch with reality is simply the process of becoming aware of these
contrasts, definitions, discontinuities and changes.
Just as the essence of experienced universal physical reality is apprehension of change,
its definition, contrast, or discontinuity, so is it also with the essence
of spiritual or non-material realities. In order to understand the
meaningful aspects of human experience and human nature it is necessary to
make the proper distinctions between what any such aspect is and what it is
not; to see that which is the same and that which is different.
d. I think, therefore I am. Self consciousness is the primary and
unequivocal evidence that we
exist as a human individual.