Not knowing applies to all of us

 
Unknown creator

Precisely why we need instructors

Facebook friend commenting on this post

Yes, instructors who know this applies to them too

My reply

There are a few different ways of understanding not knowing.

In a conventional sense, we know more or less about something compared to someone else. That’s why we need instructors, as my FB friend said. Especially because we may not even be aware of what we don’t know about the knowledge out there.

The more we know, the more we tend to know that we don’t know, and the more we tend to know what we don’t know of the knowledge available in the world. (Conversely, the less we humans know about something, the more we sometimes tend to overestimate our knowledge. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect, which Trump illustrated when he famously said “who knew healthcare was so complicated.)

In a slightly bigger picture, we know that the sum total of human knowledge and understanding is infinitesimal compared to what’s out there to be discovered, experienced, and understood. There is always further to go. Our knowledge and understanding today will be outdated tomorrow, or next decade, century, or millenia.

Also, there will always be new contexts for our understanding. Contexts and worldviews that make as much or more sense that we or anyone are familiar with today.

In either case, we don’t know anything for certain. Nothing is the final word on anything.

And thoughts are not “it”. They are just pointers. Our thoughts, maps, and worldviews are questions about the world.

So we can understand the full pie chart as the totality of human knowledge and understanding today. In this context, we need instructors to help us fill in the picture.

We can also understand the pie chart as the fullness of existence, and what we know and know we don’t know is a tiny speck of what’s out there to be discovered, explored, and charted, and understood in whatever worldviews we have available to us.

In either case, whether we see the pie chart one way or the other, we cannot know anything for certain, and our thoughts about anything is not “it” – they are, at most, pointers.

This applies not only for conventional knowledge and understanding but also for what we explore in spirituality. It applies to any area of life.

Why is it important to have some clarity around this? It helps us hold our ideas, thoughts, views, and experiences lightly, as questions about the world. It helps us have some receptivity and see our life and learning as ongoing. It helps us see that what we, as humans, think we understand and know is a tiny speck compared with what’s out there for us to discover, explore, and learn about. It reminds us that the contexts we understand the world and ourselves in are also assumptions and questions about the world, and these contexts, these worldviews, can and will change, which in turn changes how we see anything else.

I’ll mention one more thing. This also applies to situations in our life we have stressful beliefs about. Here too, what we think we know is tiny compared to what there is to know about it in a conventional sense (which could dramatically change our perception of it), and what there is to know and understand about it in an even larger sense. Curiosity and conversations can help us fill in the picture and shift out of the initial stressful thoughts, and inquiry can help us do the same (see through stressful beliefs) even if we only explore the information available to us now.

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Initial notes…

  • not knowing applies to everyone
    • image + quote from FB
    • ways of understanding not knowing
      • small sense
      • big sense
      • apply to stressful situations
    • ….

Initial notes….

  • Not knowing applies to everyone
    • different forms of not knowing
      • conventional – know more or less within what we, as humanity, think we know and understand
      • always infinitely more to understand, know, in any area of life/ourselves
      • always new contexts that make as much or more sense (or will)
      • don’t know anything for certain, in any final sense
    • “Precisely why we need instructors” (FB comment)
      • yes, instructors who know this applies to them too
      • don’t know what he had in mind, but could be the “small” interpretation of not knowing, that some know more than others
      • and for me, the big interpretation is as or more important
    • more complete
      • small interpretation – know more or less in a conventional sense, within what we as humanity knows
      • big interpretation
        • always more to know in any area
        • always new contexts that make as much or more sense
        • don’t know anything for certain
          • in conventional sense
          • in that any thoughts are not it, any “knowing” within thoughts are not it, they are just pointers
      • …..
    • ……

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And, as someone said, the more we know about something, the more we know we don’t know.

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There is a small and big way of understanding not knowing.

The small way is that we know more or less about something relative to others. We often don’t know what we don’t know about something, which is why we need instructors as my FB friend said. And the more realistic view we have on what we know and don’t know, the more we are able to seek out more knowledge and learn from others.

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The more we know, the more we know how little we know. And, conversely, when we humans know little about something, we sometimes overestimate how much we know.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is an element here. Sometimes, when we humans know little about something, we don’t realize how much more there is to know, so we overestimate our knowledge. (As Trump famously said, “who knew healthcare was so complicated”.)

…..

There is a small and big way of understanding not knowing.

The small way is that we know more or less about something relative to others. We often don’t know what we don’t know about something, which is why we need instructors as my FB friend said. And the more realistic view we have on what we know and don’t know, the more we are able to seek out more knowledge and learn from others.

Also, the more we know, the more we know how little we know. And, conversely, when we humans know little about something, we sometimes overestimate how much we know.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is an element here. Sometimes, when we humans know little about something, we don’t realize how much more there is to know, so we overestimate our knowledge. (As Trump famously said, “who knew healthcare was so complicated”.)

There is also a bigger and equally important picture.

There is always more to know about any area of life, including far beyond what any human being currently understands or intuits. There are always new contexts for how we see an area of life, and contexts that makes as much or more sense than the ones we – and any currently living human beings – are familiar with.

We don’t know anything for certain. Nothing is the final word on anything. Not even what the foremost expert on anything says is the final word.

And thoughts are not “it”. They are just pointers. Questions about the world.

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