Information Fragments

Outside the Box Two Forms of Knowledge Information Fragments
Non-Newtonian Knowledge Recognition Knowledge Awareness


Thought is information, and information is not knowledge until it is understood.  This actually means that it only becomes knowledge when we have confirmed it in experience.  Otherwise, if we speak, think, or act as if untested information is fact, we act in ignorance.  The uncertainty of this creates in us a distracted state, and this fragments our attention and reduces our awareness. 

So thought is certainly not knowledge and not certainty.  Our thoughts are merely information, and this means that they can  as easily be made to lie to us as to remind us of the truth.  Behind this is the fact described by German philosopher Heidegger, who once said; 'thinking is not merely to have thoughts'. 

Half a century later, at a conference in California, London physics professor David Bohm spoke about certain little-known problems of information that generally dominate our ordinary thinking.  What he said, in a book called ‘Thought as a System’, was:  “We do not control information, the information within us runs us.  Our thoughts mislead us by telling us we are in control of them, and so they control us.  In this way, ‘assumptions become reflexes’” - (David Bohm - Thought as a System p90-91 - RKP, London and New York)

I.       “He who does not know, but does not know that he does not know, is ignorant.  Avoid him.

II.     “He who does not know, but knows that he does not know, is simple.  Teach him.

III.  “He who knows, but does not know that he knows, is sleeping.  Wake him.

IV.    “He who knows and knows that he knows is wise, follow him.”                                                                                           (Ancient Chinese proverb.)

Think of what you really know, and know well enough to trust your life to that knowledge.  Thoughts which are based on knowledge are to be trusted, but if we asre careless about it, knowledge derived simply from thought or modified as a result of unverified thought masquerades as knowledge, and so we can too easily mislead ourselves. 

This means that we must learn to know what we know.


Information whose meaning is not verified by some kind of experience acts as disconnected fragments, and it is this that prevents the proper linkage of thought to awareness.  This is why the difference between what is now called 'episodic' or experiential memory and the more common 'narrative' memories are of particular importance to modern life, as they were and to the ancient science of Christian spirituality based on the experience of the early Church.  This difference directly reflects certain forgotten teachings of the early fathers of the Church during its first few centuries, and even explains the importance of 'purity of heart' in Christian spirituaity. 

The key distinction here is with that between semantic or narrative memory - memories converted to information - including memories stored in words or numbers -  and what is called episodic memory.  These two different kinds of memory play an important part in the behaviour of attention, since the different kinds of knowledge influence attention in quite different ways. As a direct result, they have led to the existence of two entirely different ways of understanding religion:

1.    Episodic memory; our memories of experiences themselves, and of our experience of specific elements in experiences, on the one hand, and …

2.    Narrative memory, which consists of the verbal memories we possess ‘about’ experiences, real, imagined, or intended, and what we think about their meaning, whether understood or only imagined to be understood.

One form, the knowledge from God, is the basis of understanding, and makes possible true decisions and choices in life.  The other, intellectually translated information, is not exact in its meaning; the resulting knowledge fragments thought and leads to wrong decisions or to a state of indecision.  This is quite precise; the two kinds of knowledge effect perception and action in two entirely different ways. 

Episodic memories of events, and of our participation in events, occur in moments of broad attention and create integrated memories, including memory of the state of integration that then naturally returns under similar conditions, leading to an integrated state of the psyche, in which all our faculties and all relevant memories are available to us.  Fragmented memories instead perpetuate the fragmented state of the psyche, characterised by dominance of one function and hence partial memories; only thoughts, only feelings, only perceptions or whatever happens to dominate.  Each state of the psyche is therefore self-perpetuating; fragmented states perpetuate future fragmentation; integrated memory slowly accumulates integration.