Seeking knowledge

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Islamsmylife, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Islamsmylife Registered Senior Member

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    As an extra credit assignment for my students summative assessment test I instructed them to write an open-ended paragraph to the question: “What is the purpose of seeking knowledge.” Days prior to offering this extra credit assignment I found myself perplexed by the thought ‘what is the point of seeking knowledge.’ I mentally debated myself; learn more, more understand more, accomplish more….and then what/for what? I knew that for the most part, the more knowledge you acquire the more it can enhance the quality of your life but then I countered my own argument with the reality that some people can have very enjoyable lives despite the fact that the are ignorant and may dwell in a perceived state of poor quality. I knew of many examples of people who externally seem as though they were happy due to the fact that they laughed and joke all day, despite being poor and uneducated and I knew many intellectuals who were bitter and unpleasant.
    So the next step I took towards understanding this philosophical anomaly was to Google ‘knowledge’. After reading on Wikipedia that “there is no single agreed definition of knowledge presently, nor any prospect of one, and there remain numerous competing theories”, I then became even more confused. So I decided to listen to what my 12th grade High School students thought about the question. As I expected I received over 60 simple –minded answers. I read many of the oft-recurring quotes that we all heard as students growing up, such as “knowledge is power”, “the more you know the more you grow”. This confirmed to me that school does not teach the answer to this question nor does it provide much insight into seeking towards understanding it. What do you think?
     
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  3. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    I would say knowledge of the self is most important, after which knowledge of other things can be assimilated properly. There is probably a level of diminishing returns. Spending too much time learning prevents one from living and enjoying life.
     
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  5. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    One way you could use what they handed in is to hand back their assignments with questions. If someone wrote 'knowledge is power' ask them for personal examples. You could also ask them if knowledge is ever a burden or a problem, but my suggestion would be to tailor fit your question to their assertions. Press them to move from abstract cliches to experience and concrete phenomena.

    I think it would also be great for them if you talked about your own search around the issue. Let them in on the process you let us in on and your own questions.

    Let them grill you also.

    I tend to agree with spidergoat, that knowledge of the self is most important, not that it's easy to say what fits this category and what does not.

    I do not think amassing facts is necessarily good or useful.

    It is a rather huge topic, really.
     
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  7. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

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    I believe knowledge is for the advancement of happiness of the individual, which in turn spreads to the family, society, country, and so on.
    And I believe knowledge is split into four main categories, religion, philosophy, art, and, science.

    jan.
     
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    What an engaging anwer! You will have to tell me more about this! Is there a book or other resource I can read on this fourfold structure of knowledge and how knowledge pertains to happiness?

    Otherwise, I will have to quizz you, please.
    How does knowledge of art (and what is art?) pertain to the advancement of happiness of the individual etc.?
     
  9. Islamsmylife Registered Senior Member

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    But then how will you respond to my comment about those who are relatively very happy and do not have status or our perceived standard of intellect?
     
  10. Kennyc Registered Senior Member

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    One word answer:

    Survival
     
  11. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

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    Signal,

    There is no specific book that explains this structure, I came across the
    subject matter in the SB.
    Happiness is the ultimate goal of all living entities (IMHO), in that we work
    for satisfaction, pleasure, contentment, and so on.

    Please don't hoit me!

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    Happiness is the ultimate goal, whether we are aware of it or not.
    To create art requires self-discipline, specific awareness, empathy, and other things I can't think of at the moment. To apreciate art requires the same sort
    of qualities. We can understand so much more through art than through intellectual discourse, and anyone can express themselves through it, even children. We can understand how ancient cultures through it, and so much more.
    Art is very powerful in society as it can determine what we eat, how we speak, how we communicate, how we act, how we present ourselves, etc..
    Art is a minefield of knowledge, and those who control the output of mainstream art hold alot of power over the mainstream populace.

    jan.
     
  12. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

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    Do you believe our "percieved standard of intellect", is the only expression
    of knowledge?

    jan.
     
  13. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    It's actually quite simple. If happiness is the primary goal of life (and I believe that it is), then your question really becomes "why are these people happy?"

    Because they have learned a basic truth - the constant pursuit of "things" is NOT the way to achieve happiness. It's a realization that true happiness comes from within one's self and one's attitude toward their personal situation.

    For many of us (myself included), seeking knowledge is rewarding and enjoyable in an of itself - even if it doesn't always lead to practical things that we can apply directly. It's the satisfaction of understanding!

    And for the group that you're specifically asking about, they've learned the lesson of being satisfied who who they are and what they have. They've realized things like they will never become the political leader of their country, never be rich, etc. etc. And they've learned to accept that AND to be satisfied and content with it. Therefore, hey have avoided the struggle and grief that other people go through while trying to get things they will never get anyway.

    So, in reality, it all comes down to three things: Attitude, attitude, attitude. And that's the answer to your deep question.

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  14. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Those people are ignorant as to what status is all about and live in a delusion mindset of wherever they think.
     
  15. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    I strongly disagree - they've simply DECIDED that status isn't important to them.
     
  16. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    There might be a few that decided but I think the majority of them just do not know what status is all about. As an example , people that live in the trailer park world really live from day to day trying to get by on what little they earn not wants to elevate themselves in society or even their own little trailer park world. They find just living day to day and having a roof over their heads is enough for them. There are many other types of examples, people who live in small towns, people who live in the rural regions of China, Russia and elsewhere.
     
  17. EmmZ It's an animal thing Registered Senior Member

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    Wow, the answer to me seems so obvious. People aren't experiencing happiness due to external things, intellect may give rise to certain levels of intelligence, but the causes of happiness are phenomena which exist within the continuum of the body and mind.
     
  18. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Agreed. Just as I said, three things: Attitude, attitude, attitude.
     
  19. Islamsmylife Registered Senior Member

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    If knowledge had no other merit than to make the ignorant fear and respect you, and scholars and people of status love and honour you, this would be good enough reason to seek after it.
     
  20. Islamsmylife Registered Senior Member

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    If ignorance had no other fault than to make the ignorant man jealous of knowledgeable men and jubilant at seeing more people like himself, this by itself would be reason enough to oblige us to flee it
     
  21. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

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    What is a knowledgable man?
    What is an ignorant man?

    jan.
     
  22. Islamsmylife Registered Senior Member

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    Its rather simple in my opinion. An uneducated man or a savage will always overdo a thing or neglect to do it properly, conversely an educated man will act on what he knows and act properly.
     
  23. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

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    So many absurd assumptions. :bugeye:

    You have not answered my questions,
    so i'll reiterate.
    What is a knowledgable man?
    What is an ignorant man?

    jan.
     

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