- 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

- Empowerment Discourse Knowledge Oneness

A Culture of Learning

The choice to adopt assumptions with the intention of operationalizing them does indeed entail challenges – overcoming habits of mind, resisting corrosive social forces, understanding the dynamics of change, etc – however, the journey hardly stops there.  These assumptions need to be applied and tested within reality to assess the fruits they bear.  To this end, a culture of systematic learning must be fostered; one that is motivated by a human being’s two-fold purpose, one that draws insights from science and religion, one that approaches universal participation and regards all as protagonists in the generation and application of knowledge.

There are a number of principles that prove valuable towards creating a culture of learning – three here will be mentioned.  One is integrating study and action together.  When they are carried out concurrently, insights are tested against reality, questions arise through service, and understanding is enhanced in a coherent fashion.  Contrast this with the educational systems of society which heavily fragment theory and practice, to the point where whole fields, irreconcilable with each other, are created to encompass one fragment versus the other.  Operating within this mode of study and action, a posture of humility assumes extreme importance and value – that each individual contributes simply one perspective towards an evolving collective knowledge, which is tested through action, studied and refined by others, and does not belong to one or another person alone.  Rather, all are empowered to own the generation and application of knowledge.  Again, society denotes humility as passivity, weakness, inferiority, submission.  Far be this from the truth!  Rather, true humility comes from an understanding of the oneness of humankind – that we are all cells in the body of humanity, that we all can play a part in the great enterprise of rearing a world civilization, that no one individual is greater in station than another.  Finally, joining study and service with a humble condition compels individuals to not only encourage and accompany others on a path of learning, but also to find delight and happiness in the accomplishment of others.  For – again, drawing from oneness – the knowledge generated by another is collective and beneficial to all.  The service rendered by another is towards the whole community, and benefits all.  Assisting others in learning is just as valuable as learning itself, for all work together in a culture of learning.

Development Discourse Human Nature Justice Knowledge Oneness

Conscious Choice

Beyond the highly propagated fragmentation of science and religion in current thought, and the resistance to reconceptualize these complementary systems of knowledge and practice, there are, in general, voices that resist change, especially at the level of principle.  They refuse to believe that the assumptions they hold dear are not useful.  Yet, civilization is in crisis.  The fruits of outworn assumptions have gone rotten.  If long-cherished social assumptions are no longer bearing the much needed fruit, and are no longer promoting the betterment of the world, then what is stopping us from simply discarding these assumptions and adopting new ones to operationalize?  After all, the value and validity of assumptions lie in the results garnered from applying them to social reality – assumptions are all equal until they are tested through application.  Let us apply science in the realm of civilization-building itself; let us be evidence-based.  If assumptions no longer serve humanity’s developing requirements, then they are no longer valuable or valid; and new assumptions need to replace them.  Change is an immutable law of our reality.  What is the harm in adopting the assumption that humanity is one?  That science and religion are complementary?  That human beings are noble?  That beauty directs our purpose?  That individual and social well-being are inextricably linked?  That a world civilization beckons humanity, one that will be governed by justice, one that will achieve a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual requirements of life, one that will be rich with knowledge from all people?

Tell, which do you prefer: the assumptions that led to our current crisis of civilization, or those listed above?

- Religion - Science

Fruits of Assumptions

The last post mentioned some equivalent basic assumptions that underly science and religion as systems of knowledge.  All of these assumptions or articles of faith cannot be empirically proven, but rather, their validity is shown over time as they are operationalized – in other words, put into operation and practice.  The fruits of science, under these assumptions, have yielded their fruit – advances in communications, abilities in the health field, mass transit, to name a few – and we now have confidence in the premises of science.  Thousands of years ago, however, when the scientific enterprise began, these assumptions would have appeared radical and would not have been empirically verifiable.

The fruits of religion are less obvious, and the corruptions more apparent; leaving in many observers a skeptical stance.  However, religion’s positive contributions to humanity’s history cannot be overstated.  It is the leading force impelling civilizations, moral codes, unification, and many of the world’s moral, intellectual, artistic, and social advancements.  It has been the chief source of meaning, order, and guidance throughout human life.  Historically, religion’s generating influences have been geographically concentrated, progressively widening in scope in a punctuated manner with the advent of new religions, extending from the tribe to city-state to nation.  In time, through the continued operationalization of its underlying assumptions, the fruits of religion will be self-evident in the form and function of a world civilization.

Both science and religion are based on articles of faith, which can only be verified over time and through putting them into practice and application.  What fruits of assumptions do you see in daily life?