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Why do we crave knowledge?

 
 
Gilbey
 
Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 01:51 pm
The claims that religion makes could have a lot to do with our desire to know. Religion makes some bold claims, and I suppose that when religious belief dominated the world, the questions were "answered for us", as it were, but now the majority of the world doubt religious claims, and we now realize that we don't have a complete explanation of the universe and everything in it, as many people thought we once did thanks to religion, we now feel that we have to "go out again", as it were and make knowledge what its meant to be, which is true.

Its as if we thought that we had an explanation of everything, then we reviewed it and thought "um, this is not quite right", so we threw that explanation (namely religion), in the bin and now we are looking for another one.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,280 • Replies: 15
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hingehead
 
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Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 03:52 pm
Hmmm. A couple of points.

No religion explains everything (cynics would say 'anything'). None of them mention silicon chips for example. They mostly seem about creation, then a bunch of rules and anecdotes about how you should lead your life, and occasionally they map out the final scenes too.

Not all people of deep faith think they know everything and many are still 'craving knowledge'.

Even if there is a god(s) it doesn't explain anything.

Saying 'God created the universe', and, 'this event happened because it's part god's plan' doesn't explain anything, it merely changes the question: 'Why did God create the universe', 'What is God's plan?'

Most unsatisfying.

I suspect our craving for knowledge has an evolutionary element. And even the Flying Spaghetti Monster can't quell it.
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fresco
 
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Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 04:07 pm
Gilbey,

The answer to your question usually starts with an attempt to define "knowledge".

If you are a "naive realist" this definition tends to take the form of "factual statements about reality" and the place of "religion" is to fill in the (large) gaps.

However, if you see "reality" as a "social construction" arising from homo sapiens' use of language, you might conclude, as I do, that the "yearning for knowledge" is merely an epiphenomenon of that psychological dimension we call "time" (encapsulated in the tenses of language) within which we exercise a human need to "predict and control". Since such "control" is inevitably limited, man tends to invent "gods" to establish "closure" in order to ameliorate his fear of the void and his own possible insignificance therein.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 09:10 pm
That pretty much says it.
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hawkeye10
 
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Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 09:53 pm
It is not about understanding everything, knowing everything, it is about having a method and a framework to get to understanding. We used to be directed by the interactions between man and nature which is very irrational, thus the looking towards the Gods. With our technical society we no longer have much to do with nature so the old ways break down. We now choose to use the framework of reason and science, and we look towards our intellectual understanding of our experience to make sense of our world. But man is not a computer, we are no less irrational then we have ever been, so the project is doomed to failure. We end up with a false sense of our powers, as well as feeling isolated and unwhole.

Some react by desperately clinging to the old ways that no longer work (fundamentalists), some cling to rationality even though it clearly fails to explain much of who we are or to fulfill us, some shrivel up in despair, and some frantically search for a new way...a way out of the jam.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 11:41 pm
Hawkeye, I pretty much agree with your rejection of a one-sided attachment to rationality. I do not think that the "structure" of philosophical rationality--as it reflects the shape of our brains/minds--can possibly achieve congruence with the structure of the Universe. We cannot shrink the World to the size of our brains. We can, perhaps, have glimpses with our intellects. But we also need aesthetic and intuitive (right-brain?) "knowledge" for the fulfillment you mention.
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hawkeye10
 
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Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 11:56 pm
JLNobody wrote:
Hawkeye, I pretty much agree with your rejection of a one-sided attachment to rationality. I do not think that the "structure" of philosophical rationality--as it reflects the shape of our brains/minds--can possibly achieve congruence with the structure of the Universe. We cannot shrink the World to the size of our brains. We can, perhaps, have glimpses with our intellects. But we also need aesthetic and intuitive (right-brain?) "knowledge" for the fulfillment you mention.


And would you not agree that the failure of Western Philosophy illustrates the point? Up till a few hundreds years ago it was assumed that philosophy would take over for religion, but that project suffered a cave-in. Most of post Enlightenment Philosophy has been so specialized and so divorced from life as it is lived by men that it is of no help. Modern Western Philosophy is the intellectual equivalent of a bar trick, sometimes interesting but wholly useless.
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Chumly
 
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Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 12:02 am
I might suggest that not everyone does "crave knowledge".
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hawkeye10
 
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Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 12:28 am
Chumly wrote:
I might suggest that not everyone does "crave knowledge", my wife comes to mind in that for example she is not willing to listen to the argument that death equates with the cessation of experience.


The feminine does not suffer from the need to cling to the rational, as anyone who has tried to keep an argument with a woman on rational ground knows. Still women get highly upset when their irrationality is pointed out to them, as we saw with the violent backlash against Charlotte Allen's assay in the WP.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/06/AR2008030603240.html

Allen is wrong in the sense that she, like most moderns, does not have the proper respect for the irrational. If she did she could not have called women "dim".
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Chumly
 
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Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 12:32 am
I edited the part about my wife, alas too late; my intent was only as an example, and not as a sexual bias.
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hawkeye10
 
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Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 12:43 am
I, however, fully intended the sexual bias that my post displays. So kindly direct any attack my way and not at Chumly.
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fresco
 
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Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 01:15 am
hawkeye,

The "male chauvinism" of "Western control epistemology" has been described by Frijof Capra and others. Current eco-politics tends to be a reaction relative to this and stresses "sustainability of systems" rather than their "control". The central philosophical issue* arising from this is whether what constitues satisfactory explanation requires to be couched in the "rationalism of logic" or otherwise.

*The problem is confounded by the status of "logic" as an axiom of naive realism. Part solutions are offered by alternative "logics" and discussions of the "coherence" by Hilbert (et al) with respect ro Godel's incompleteness theorem.
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Chumly
 
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Reply Fri 21 Mar, 2008 04:05 pm
The presumption that control is masculine and sustainability is feminine is dubious.
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hawkeye10
 
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Reply Fri 21 Mar, 2008 04:20 pm
Chumly wrote:
The presumption that control is masculine and sustainability is feminine is dubious.


it is definition. The belief that men have been generally masculine and that women have been generally feminine is ratified by the historians. The belief that today men should be masculine and women should be feminine is personal opinion. Clearly more than a few a2ker's disagree, they seem to think that we are beyond gender. I would argue strenuously that we are not, we are gender confused, and we should correct the problem asap.
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Chumly
 
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Reply Fri 21 Mar, 2008 05:46 pm
I don't necessarily believe we are "beyond gender" but the considerations of nature versus nurture have not been played out by any means. Let alone the amalgamation of modern technologies into the mix!
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hawkeye10
 
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Reply Fri 21 Mar, 2008 06:00 pm
Chumly wrote:
I don't necessarily believe we are "beyond gender" but the considerations of nature versus nurture have not been played out by any means. Let alone the amalgamation of modern technologies into the mix!


Genetics and soul change very slowly. We look at democratic theory and the leveling out of the physical world by technological aids so that human size and physical strength no longer means much, and we assume that we have changed likewise. We will, many more generations down the evolutionary road, but we must live this life as we are not as how we think we should be.
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