Ask yourself what you know, then ask yourself how you know it. When you look up above your while standing outdoors, how do you know that to be the sky? You know that you are looking above your head because of the position of your own neck, but the fact that what you are staring into is called the sky is something you learned somewhere from someone.
This is the pivotal moment when have the choice of asking a few more questions or accepting the knowledge as fact without further inquiry. We can recall the image of a child incessantly asking “Why?” in response to every question they are answered.
But this nagging curiosity is actually the root of knowledge. The scientists, philosophers, artists, and explorers research, learn, investigate, and express to bring us closer to answering these why questions. For many of us we are not availed the opportunity to ask them for ourselves so we have to trust the work that is done in the sectors of society that are tasked with uncovering our knowledge.
These knowledge farms, which are often educational institutions or private research firms, then pass their information to the government, and corporations. These organizations are the pillars of our lifestyle, they make everything, regulate everything and enforce everything. These institutions not only make the rules, but they define ethics and morality based on the knowledge they have sourced or acquired.
This is not problematic when the system works ideally. But when an individual holds up a badge they are symbolizing the trust we have granted the institution that licensed them to do their job. When the standards are not met, we have a break in trust, and can not have stability in a social agreement without trust.
When we do not commit our own searches for knowledge and find our authorities to be untrustworthy we can find a sense of turbulence in our social system. When we lack the means of verifying the information we are given from institutions trust is further eroded.
This is similar to the effect we would find when shop for healthy foods, we trust the FDA to allow appropriate labels for foods. If we don’t trust the FDA, we have little means of verifying the labels that are allowed, especially while we are in the process of making decisions in the grocery store.
Our institutional authorities are those that do the research and thinking on our behalf, they tell us what models should work best for us and we put faith in those models. This leaves us without additional inquiry.
It leaves us save in the arms of our governing bodies, but stripped of the pivotal question that rests at the base of all knowledge. So when we do find the courage to question those trusted with doing our thinking for us, and finally pose a simple “Why?” the answer is all to often the same one we would give a pesky kid with too many questions…
“Because I said so.”
And this answer is not only insufficient because it provides no information, it is insufficient because it rests on power. The use of status quo, tradition, and authority as validity for our social conditions or what we consider knowledge is not based in reason. This answer seeks to skirt the inherent subjectivity of all society to critique.
All of society is subject to critique because all of society is constructed.
Knowledge itself as we use the term could be defined as a series of reasonable expectations of consequence based on fundamental principles that are self-evident, unchangeable, or occur naturally without intervention or assistance.
The sense of relating to the world in this way stems from the fact that Reality absolutely stable. The rules of Matter, Energy, and Timespace are both, seemingly permanent, and unalterable by human interference. This, however does not prove to be true for laws of our government.
Society, as a construct of humanity, is built on the consensus of people, and as a result is only stable relative to the stability of our mutual agreements. This means that everything that we have learned to be factual based endorsements from institutions that claim authority. The authority that they claim is only relatively stable because we do not have unanimous agreement about its validity.
The beauty of the natural world is the quality of absoluteness about the experience of the phenomena, this grants us the quality of objectivity. Objectivity is then proven by our physical response to the phenomena presented. Ie. if there is an obstacle in the path of a group, we may go over, under or around it, but if the object is made of Matter, we can not go through it without displacing the Matter from which it is made. There is no dismissing, or avoiding the object, it must be addressed.
But in our social world, we see some rules that are inconsistently applied on many different criteria. Natural may be harsh, but it applied harm indiscriminately. The consistency of nature is what makes it absolutely trustworthy.
Institutions are relatively trustworthy, more so than we are as individuals in some areas, but because they are not absolutely trust worthy we can no afford to outsource all of our thinking, we must continue to investigate and explore the areas where our institutions and social compact need to be edited.
This work, means being in touch with our own sensory experience of nature enough to know the difference in feeling from what is True and what is constructed.