Two Forms of Knowledge

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


Modern scientific descriptions are entirely concerned with phenomena.  Because they are defined on the basis of a circular chain of comparisons, they only perceive phenomena, and are unaware of of the numinous because this lies outside the definition system of the physical sciences.  It is this that is responsible for the infinite regress discovered in certain sciences, for in this complicated process everybody loses sight of the fact that describing things in this way does not tell us anything of what they consist 'at root', except to say tautologically that the phenomena manifested in the evidence of life occur simply as a result of the material qualities of objects and substances.  These material qualities can be quite directly defined out of a standard Table of Physical Constants, available in any University library.  Nothing mystical in this; indeed, you can find similar tables listed in a pre-war work, in common use in the 1950’s, Newnes Engineer’s Reference Book, at one time familiarly known by most engineers as ‘Camm’, the name of the compiler.  But the significance of this is that the whole book is a circular definition; it neither recognises or defines any 'first cause' or 'final result', for the world of change, when it is described in words based on sensory definition, has neither beginning nor end.

Yet it was long-ago understood that thre existed a second form of knowledge which is beyond words, ‘beyond description’.  It is learned slowly, but once understood it can be recognised.  

Information on its own also fails to produce people who are willing and able to contribute in any way to keeping our civilisation running.  It almost always lacks the power to inspire or awaken us.  Saint Gregory Palamas clearly defines the proper task of the most important divisions in the psyche. 

“By this authority we attach this law to each activity of the psyche, and to each part of the body as appropriate.”

“For the senses, we decide the object and limit of their actions.  This work of the law is called guarding the senses.’ (ekratia, sometimes given as temperance or ‘self-control.’)

“For the passionate part of the psyche we achieve the best state of being, which bears the name of love.’ (agape)

“We also improve the thinking part by rejecting everything that obstructs our thoughts from turning towards God.  That part of the law we name watchfulness or ‘Control of attention.’ (nipsin)

“Someone who (who has done all these things; who) has purified his body by guarding his senses; who has changed his wilfulness and his desires through divine love into a means to become virtuous; someone who has offered to God a nous purified by prayer; acquires and sees within himself the grace promised to those whose hearts are pure.  He can then say with Paul: ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.’”  

(Saint Gregory Palamas. Triads Vol.1.2.2.)

Without the second kind of knowledge, these qualities of human character referred to here remain inaccessible to us.  Thus today's culture makes almost no allowance for the continuing development of individual character in adults.  In the West, developmental psychology is concerned largely with childhood, in part because there appears to be an assumption that development of the individual stops before adulthood.  Because of this misconception, both these disciplines have shown little concern with the developmental psychology needed to help such people, and so they have drawn conflicting conclusions about the need for and the possibilities of such a discipline.

In ancient times there was a different kind of psychological science, but we have to understand what this actually means. Although therapeutic in nature, its concept of therapy was developmental: it sought to remedy mental distress by developing, not suppressing, the innate potential of the individual. In the present age, knowledge of the full development possible to man is not widespread, although many ineffectual or incomplete teachings about it exist.  For this and other reasons, few people today understand or even begin to fulfill this possibility in their lives.

Language used to instruct action was shown by Jacob Bronowski to be a characteristic of simpler animals, in which, he tells us, 'the information content of words is also an instruction'.  This ‘sensory-motor language’ bypasses the critical faculties, and therefore in general disconnects the human learning capability.  Although used in a military context, in salesmanshiop, and in totalitarian politics, it has no place in religion, other that a role in special kinds of inner practical work in which this kind of language is intentionally and knowingly used to bypass the critical faculty. (Jacob Bronowski, ... Knowledge and Imagination.)