Guest Author - Tracy Webb
Epistemology, according to Wikipedia is “the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge”. It is concerned with our beliefs, truth, and justifications of what we think we know.
Knowledge can be factual, for example; two plus two equals 4. Knowledge can also be subjective, and according to what we believe to be so. When we believe something to be true we act in accordance with that belief. Another example would be, we believe that our car is safe and we will arrive at our destination unharmed. However, we may be involved in an accident where the tyre blew, therefore showing us that our belief was not true.
Beliefs are generally adopted, and accepted as being true. We carry them around with us as core values. It can be surprising to actually look at what our core values are, and to discover whether they are our values or someone else’s. Patterns of behavior can be passed down through generations, and continually practiced without thought. Mostly we do not question the reasons why we think what we think, or do what we do.
I always remember the story of a family cooking the Sunday roast. The person cooking would always cut the end off the joint of meat before putting it in the oven. When questioned about this, she replied it is what we’ve always done. My grandmother used to do it and her mother before her. On closer inspection of this, it became apparent that the end was cut off the joint of meat to enable it to fit into the oven which was smaller in those days.
Our beliefs can also be erroneous and based on no justification. The mind is powerful and through a positive mind-set we have been seen to create positive outcomes. When we expect, or believe that we will find a parking space in town, or recover from a serious disease, and do, we cannot say that this is a belief since there was nothing to substantiate or justify the belief.
Knowledge and beliefs are individual. No two people think the same, know the same or act the same. We all have different frameworks that we operate from. These frameworks are designed according to our experiences, beliefs, associations, and the confirmation bias’s we have towards making something fit our framework.
Most of the knowledge we hold is second hand via news programs and the internet. Everything we read and see is according to someone else’s knowledge, agenda and bias’s. And yet we take them to be true and do not question what we are being told, even in light of evidence to the contrary.
Perhaps we do not like to question what we are being informed since it would involve taking action and changing habits. I always keep in mind that whatever I am hearing is someone else’s perspective, and they have an agenda to put across a message potentially implying many things, by saying nothing. Then we are being relied on to connect the dots through our judgments and suppositions, and come up with ‘our own’ coerced views on the subject.
Do we have free will or is our mind being controlled by advertising, television, news and the internet? Is your knowledge true or just true for you?