Categories
- Consultation - Empowerment - Religion - Science Development Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Beyond Modernism and Post-Modernism

Historically and currently, the relationship between power and knowledge has been strained and complex, to say the least.  Recently, “modernism” – which has constructed systems of knowledge around truth-claims about social reality – has come into critique by “post-modernism” – that these systems have been created through the operation of privilege and power, resulting in an unjust and inequitable social reality that brings modernism’s remarkable advances to only an elite minority.  Post-modernism, however, has reacted to an extreme position, asserting that all knowledge is grounded in power dynamics, that knowledge is oppression, that no truth-claims are more valid than others.  Instead of a solution, post-modernism has replaced all thought with endless critique.

Perhaps the following premises can help:
1)  Human comprehension is limited, human perspective is diverse, and social reality is complex and multifaceted.
2)  Science and religion, two systems of knowledge and practice, yield partial and tentative, though valid, insights into this reality.
3)  Over time, through a reflective learning process, humanity can judge the relative validity these insights (or truth-claims) against the goal of advancing civilization.

This is a consultative, evolving, and adaptive approach to knowledge.  It can be protected from oppressive uses of power by a) drawing in any and all diverse insights and perspectives, experiences and reflections, and constructive criticism from all people, and b) being guided by spiritual principles such as oneness, justice, interdependence, compassion, honesty, cooperation, etc.

This approach resolves the tension of knowledge and power, currently taking form as the crisis of modernism and post-modernism.  More importantly, it empowers humanity to take charge of its own destiny and the advance of civilization through the generation and application of knowledge.

Categories
- Religion - Science - Three Protagonists Knowledge

Walking a Path

That one who generates knowledge can be likened unto a scout evokes images of walking a path, which perhaps can be an analogy to the process of generating and applying knowledge.  Let us expand on this analogy.  Firstly, walking a path is a collective enterprise, not an isolated act; a path invites the participation of many and can be known by all.  A path has an end point and necessitates a structured, defined, and logical progression forward; but the actual course is not a straight line – thus, progress is mapped out, by multiple groups, through periodic reflection on current position and factors, at which point, the course and direction can be adjusted.  In this way, uncharted territory and related lines of exploration can be charted, and a fuller picture of the landscape can be obtained.  Walking a path implies constant movement and active effort, and yet the pace is not fixed; all strides are accommodated.  Those who walk this path require skills and abilities, qualities and attitudes, and it is through walking with others that these capacities are developed, not in isolation or off the path – there is no “practice” path; all actions are within a social context.  And of course, this path is not mapped out from the beginning; the horizon in the distance beckons those who walk and provides the general direction and goal, while the lamps that illumine their footsteps are the systems of knowledge and practice of science and religion.

One note about pace.  Although it is fostering a natural and unified process of forward movement with others that is important, and not reaching the end goal in a disunified manner, still there must be value placed on the speed of exploration.  The rate of progress of organic social processes can be increased, while still maintaining requisite characteristics of unity, justice, and humility.  The relationships between individuals, communities, and institutions, all walking this path, and their ability to engage in an ongoing learning process – defined as consultation, action, reflection on action, and study of science and religion – is what will determine the pace of progress.  In short, as has been a theme throughout, the advancement of civilization is propelled by the generation of knowledge within a learning mode and the development of proper relationships between its three protagonists.

Categories
- Consultation Knowledge

Reconciling Relativism and Truth

Like all false dichotomies, an approach to knowledge that is either absolutist or relativist is not helpful nor enlightening in efforts to generate and apply knowledge towards the building of a just and prosperous world civilization. A few previous posts have given ways to conceptualize knowledge that demonstrates that a belief in the foundational nature of truth is compatible with a recognition of the relativity of truth.

  1. Truth claims are relative to the diverse perspectives of different facets of the same object of study (reality). Consultation is the method by which human beings collectively advance understandings of our one, interconnected, reality.
  2. Collective understanding of objective truth advances over time – as unity is built, as consultation is employed, as insights from religion and science (humanity’s two systems of knowledge and practice) become more accurate, as vision is sharpened, as methods and approaches are more attuned. Thus, current claims about foundational truth are relative to time and degree of understanding.
  3. Certain foundational truths have a relative latency, in that they are manifest over time either through natural processes or over time through human effort. At any given point, a foundational truth might be less manifest than at a later point, and is thus relatively latent.
  4. Some social realities are built upon foundational truths that are latent relative to human will, and therefore, embody this foundational truth to relative degree. The issue of human rights is a great example: The nobility of man is a foundational truth of reality, which is embodied in some legal and political systems to a relatively higher degree than others. At any given moment, one can claim a system of human rights to be embodying an objective truth to a relative degree.

In the end, this approach to knowledge is an assumption that cannot be empirically validated.  It can be only operationalized; and the fruits it yields over time will be its proof.

Do you prefer this approach to knowledge over the ones currently crippling our academic, economic, medical, legal, and political systems?

How does this understanding of knowledge help free us to generate and apply knowledge towards human betterment?

 

Socially Constructed Foundational Truth

Categories
- Religion - Science Knowledge

Wisdom, Science and Religion

Wisdom – the unification of knowledge and action – is a spiritual capacity of every human being. The origin of an individual’s wisdom is the acknowledgement and embodiment of the teachings of God through the Manifestation of God. The Manifestation quickens the spiritual condition of humanity and empowers the capacity of wisdom; the teachings enable humanity to acquire knowledge about reality more fully, to understand its meaning, and thus provide opportunities to exercise wisdom.

Wisdom is the proper use of knowledge – towards betterment. An individual seeking wisdom is constantly informed from the twin systems of knowledge: science and religion. True religion must be distinguished from traditions, and true science from dogmatic materialism. A community’s practices are not equal to Revelation itself. Humanity strives to understand meaning in the Revelation, and this understanding has limits. It is this understanding – which we term the system of religion – that can degenerate into superstitions unless weighed in the light of scientific reason. And scientific assertions are not equal to the Laws of the physical and biological universe. Humanity strives to understand physical reality, and this limited understanding – terms the system of science – must be directed and illuminated by true religion lest it becomes idle.

All can manifest the quality of wisdom through applying the knowledge of religion and science towards individual and collective transformation.

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Please refer to Figure 2

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Categories
- Oppression - Religion - Science Knowledge

Crisis of Knowledge

The advancement of a civilization aiming to achieve a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual dimensions of reality recognizes that science and religion are the two reciprocal knowledge systems that impels its advance.  History gives rare, yet significant instances when these two systems have been complementary in their practice, and the resulting productivity of that society has been immense.

What is the state of these two systems today?  Few would argue that they are in crisis.  For religion, obvious signs include an almost endless fragmentation into irreconcilable factions and sects; the spread of religious intolerance, prejudice, and violence; the increasing corruption of its institutions; and its close-minded rejection of science.

For science, signs are less obvious, since it has brought humanity accelerated rates of technological advance.  However, science, too, has experienced a severe fragmentation as competing fields and disciplines view the world through their increasingly reductionist perspectives; it has created prejudice against anything associated with spirituality or religion, in a blind and close-minded fashion; it has disempowered most of humanity, who now view the generation of knowledge as exclusive to specialists and experts; it disproportionately serves the interest of a privileged minority by being directed by concentrations of wealth and power; and the priorities and values imposed on it have produced efficient methods for mass manipulation and weapons of mass destruction.

Clearly, fresh conceptions of each are overdue, conceptions that recognize their complementarity and coherence.

Categories
- Empowerment - Religion - Science Development Knowledge

Science and Religion

All human beings have spiritual capacities that can be revealed to contribute to humanity’s development and betterment.  This process of empowerment occurs through access to knowledge, both self-knowledge and knowledge of reality.  This knowledge is in two repositories of science and religion – for capacity building is concerned both with the qualities of the mind and the unique endowments of the soul.  For example, seeking unbiased truth is a scientific skill, but this skill’s contribution to civilization’s advance requires detachment and truthfulness.

Thus, the advancement of civilization is propelled through these two systems of knowledge, religion and science.  Both evolve over time as humanity has evolved.  Both are practiced collectively by communities.  Both operationalize underlying assumptions.  Religion discerns values through Divine revelation, that define the goals of humankind’s advancement; while science is the instrumentality through which the mind explores reality and attains these goals.

Science without religion looses proper direction and, as we have seen, results in a destructive materialism.  Religion without science looses connection with reality and, as we have seen, becomes blind imitation and superstition.

What are some instances now or throughout history when science and religion have been in harmony?