What Do You Know About the World?

What Do You Know About the World?

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What does it mean to “know?”

This word originates from the root *gno- (= to know), which is but a circular definition. An archaic synonym for the word know is wit that originates from the Old English word witan (= to know), which originates from the root *weid- (= to see). Taken together, to know means to see. It is aptly used to denote seeing in a broader sense than just visually, including any sensory percep­tion as well as seeing something imaginary.

Knowledge basically is the same as a perspective. This word originates from the Latin words per (= through) and specere (= to see).

Knowledge has nothing to do with truth:

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
(Marcus Aurelius)

In other words: Everything you know is a perspective, not the truth.

If you are interested in the truth, you have to listen to the German philosopher Artur Schopenhauer:

The own experience has the advantage of total certainty.
(Artur Schopenhauer)

You have total certainty (which is supposed to mean truth) only within your personal horizon of experience. This horizon is, compared to the whole world with its almost eight billion people, extremely small.

If you read something, you only know the perspective of the person who wrote the text. How trustworthy is this person?

Answer for yourself the question: Which of your sources of knowledge (such as books, articles, teachers, seminars, schools, etc) do you trust so much that you would risk your life?

Back to the question: What do you know about the world?

What do you know about your neighbor? What do you know about the major of your home town? What do you know about the governor of your state? What do you know about this or that actor? What do you know about this or that athlete? What do you know about the president of the USA?

You know the perspectives of your sources of knowledge – primarily the media that you use. But this has nothing to do with truth. It is only a mirror of the political, cultural, religious, or ethnic attitude of the decision-makers of these media.

Have you ever made a personal experience about the relation between truth and media representation?

When I was about 12 years old, there was a small fire in my best friend’s house. Firefighters came and quickly extinguished the fire. The next day there was an article in the newspaper, which gave a completely different account of what had happened. I know that for sure, because my friend told me exactly what had happened – and, clearly, I trusted him more than the author of the article. The newspaper heavily dramatized the event. Why? Because a dramatic story sells …

I wrote an article about truth (“The Truth”). The quest for truth begins with accepting that more than 99% of your knowledge has nothing to do with truth.