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Posted: Jan 31 2007, 12:48 PM
Group: Power Member
Joined: 4-December 05
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I often face the frustration of responders who find them selves confused by my words. This has led me to post my last OP “Knowledge is a puzzle” (which I copy and place at the end of this OP)
I constantly study books written by authors who hold a critical view of the existing social status quo. The books I study are the books I write about and these essays are the ones I post. Thus my OPs are constantly contrary to the status quo world views. My Ops are essays that do not generally fit the puzzles that readers have been working on all their lives. (Puzzles here refer to my post “Knowledge: it’s a jigsaw puzzle” which I copy and place at the end of this OP)
Thus when I throw a piece on the reader’s table it will almost never fit any of her puzzles. The reader who decides to respond generally does so after modifying the piece so that it will fit the puzzle he has. The response the reader makes is then about the fragment of knowledge that has been sliced and diced to fit the wrong puzzle.
When I start reading a new author I am constantly facing total confusion as to what the author is saying. However, I do this so often that I have learned not to be frustrated because I know that if I just keep plodding along I will sooner or later begin to comprehend what the author is driving at. Of course, I can trust the author because I only choose the best that is around (or at least one that receives praise from many) whereas the reader of my essays does not have that comfort.
I discovered that few people know how to go about the process of learning a new domain of knowledge. When they are given a fragment of knowledge that does not fit into their puzzles that they have been working on all their life they do not know how to start a new puzzle. They had teachers to help them start new puzzles but they never learned how to start one of their own. Instead, they take the fragment of new knowledge and either tosses it out the window or they cut it up to fit their present puzzles.
What is needed, I think, is for young people to learn how to start new puzzles. Your teachers will never teach you how to do this, you must learn that your self or remain ignorant of new domains of knowledge the rest of your life. The reason many find my posts to be incomprehensible is because I am presenting a bit of knowledge that does not fit the puzzles that our teachers taught us.
Dutch uncle says--ignorance is not cool
Dutch uncle—one who admonishes sternly and bluntly.
It seems to me that we can discourse about people, things, or ideas. Everyone already knows all they need to know about talking or writing about people or things. In the matter of ideas we can discourse about a subject we already know something about or we can discourse about new stuff. When we try to discourse about new stuff we hit a brick wall. How do we carry on a discourse about a realm of knowledge that we have little or no knowledge of?
The first thing to do is realize that we need to take a breather, while we learn a little. ‘Drive by shouting’ is of little value—when encountering confusion take some time to study your position.
I have learned that when I approach a new and unfamiliar realm of knowledge that I constantly encounter frustration because I cannot make sense of what I read or hear. How does one get some traction on this path to a new realm of knowledge? For me it works to just jump into the big middle of the subject matter and to just keep trucking. Google and the Internet is a good way to do that. I quickly discover new and strange concepts that constantly are repeated. If I keep reading I slowly begin to get the hang of it.
I can quickly locate half dozen words that do not make sense within the context as written. I then isolate these particular concepts and try to comprehend each one. The easiest way is to do a Google which includes a Wikipedia. The Wiki stuff is usually too sterile for good comprehension but it is useful in the beginning. If I spend an hour or two on these new concepts I usually get a fairly good idea of their meaning within the context of the particular domain of knowledge such that I can go back to a second reading and everything takes on a much different appearance.
The point I wish to make is that you gain nothing by automatically discarding ideas that are confusing. Like in the jigsaw puzzle analogy when you get a piece that does not work in your puzzles, you can discard it; or you can slice and dice the piece to try to fit it into your puzzle, or you can start a new puzzle. Trashing the new idea or cutting it to fit your present puzzle will confine you to your present tiny world of reality.
We can ‘see’ only what we are prepared to ‘see’. The way to prepare to learn a new domain of knowledge is to keep trucking and organize your efforts. Cutting and shaping a new bit of knowledge that does is not meant to fit your present puzzles is a wasted effort; when you do that you will find others with whom to carry on a discourse but that discourse will be about old stuff and not new stuff.
A certain way to confine one’s self within our present prison is to go negative whenever encountering something confusing. It appears to me that young people think ‘that to be negative is to be cool’. I do not know about cool, but I can tell you that having a default position of negativity is a sure way for a life time of ignorance. If you are confused, hit ‘hold’ until you can clear up your confusion. Being negative may look cool to your chums but it is also a road to ignorance.
It is not necessary that you post your reply to an OP immediately. If it takes two weeks to prepare a meaningful response then respond in two weeks. You may discover that your chums have been preparing themselves and are ready to enter into a discourse about this new stuff.
Another little tidbit—at no extra charge, if a young person spends the twenty years between the end of schooling and mid-life without developing an intellectual life that person is unlikely to ever have an intellectual life. If you reach forty without having cultivated your intellectual curiosity you may get elected president but you will never acquire an intellectual life.
Knowledge: It’s a jigsaw puzzle
Most everyone has played with jigsaw puzzles and recognize how we put such puzzles together. When we start a new puzzle the first thing we do is construct the frame. We gather all the pieces with one straight edge and slowly construct the outer perimeter of the puzzle.
Such is the case when we organize knowledge. When we begin to learn a new domain of knowledge in school our teachers help us set up the frame. They hold our hands while we construct the outside boundary and slowly fill in the image by adding new facts.
After we leave school if we want to become a self-learner and to become knowledgeable of new domains we will follow this same procedure but with a significant difference. We will have no teacher to supply us with the pieces of the puzzle. Especially difficult will be gathering the appropriate side pieces so that we can frame our domain. After this we might very well have to imagine the image of the puzzle because we will not have a teacher to help us ‘see’ what the domain ‘looks like’.
When we become a self-learner we will often find pieces of knowledge that do not fit our already constructed frames, when this happens we have two choices. We can throw away the new fragment of knowledge or we can start a journey of discovery in an effort to organize the construction of a new domain. The odd piece of knowledge is either trashed or we must begin a big effort to start construction on a new big puzzle.
I think that knowledge is easily acquired when that knowledge fits easily within one’s accepted ideologies. If we have a ready place to put a new fragment of knowledge we can easily find a place to fit it in. When the knowledge does not fit within our already functioning ideas that fact will be discarded unless a great deal of effort is made to find a home for that fragment of knowledge.
We are unable to move beyond our ideologies unless we exert great effort. No one can give us that type of knowledge; we must go out of our way to stalk it, wrestle it to the ground and then find other pieces that will complete a frame. That is why our schools do not try to take us beyond our narrow world because it is too costly in time and effort. Our schools prepare us to be good workers and strong consumers, anything beyond that we must capture on our own.
No one can give us that kind of knowledge. It can only be presented as an awakening of consciousness and then we can, if we have the energy and curiosity go and capture the knowledge of something totally new and start a new puzzle.