Friday, September 26, 2008

Knowledge

Thomas Hobbes (born 5 April 1588 – died 4 December 1679) was an English philosopher, whose famous 1651 book Leviathan established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory.

In one of his many philosophical discussions, Hobbs examines the difference between absolute and scientific knowledge. Absolute knowledge being unconditional and created by sensation and memory, while scientific knowledge being conditional and based on reasoning through causes and effects.


So, why is this important? Primarily because if we plan to evolve into better humans we need to have a certain amount of knowledge that will allow us to grow into what we desire. Ultimately this evolutionary process is described as living in reality, but learning your reality is easier imagined than acted upon.


The easiest, but not best way to know your reality is to amass as much absolute knowledge as possible because of its unconditional nature. Sensation and memory are powerful tools in attaining an understanding of our position in the world. Our primary instinct is to obtain positive sensations through our actions so that we can collect the memories necessary to remember how we can achieve positive sensation. While this is an essential step in acquiring absolute knowledge, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the positive sensations we are feeling are actually good for us personally. Our quest for positive sensation is the root of all negative action because our focus is on sensation and not on cause and effect, or scientific knowledge.


Just because of its conditional nature, scientific knowledge is not inferior to absolute knowledge. Scientific knowledge allows us the opportunity to actually see the effect our decisions have on our surroundings internal and external. While we might act on achieving euphoric sensations and have great memories of similar past actions, we are still capable of causing great damage to ourselves and those we surround ourselves with. Immediate satisfaction might be absolute, but it is not limited to one particular moment because its consequences have effects that will last far beyond our positive sensation.


In achieving knowledge of our reality we must be able to decipher what is an immediate need for positive sensation and an action that is actually good for us. This is the hardest battle we will face in life; go for immediate satisfaction or do what is best for ideals larger than us. Automatically our pull will be towards achieving instant gratification and in doing so we alienate our surroundings creating unforeseen negative consequences for our behavior.


If we actually take the time to combine our absolute and scientific minds we will learn that acting on sensation and memory alone will achieve great personal satisfaction, but if we incorporate the idea of cause and effect we will empower ourselves to make a greater impact on not just the lives we live, but in all the surrounding lives we potentially can influence. Essentially that is the point of understanding our reality; enhance our lives so that we can pay it forward and enhance the lives of those that are lucky enough to come in contact with us.

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