James Giago Davies: Honoring traditional and modern knowledge

James Giago Davies. Photo from Native Sun News Today

Experience and knowledge
Why the broken clock is actually right twice a day
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Columnist

There are three basic groups of people, those who perceive life through experience, those who perceive life through knowledge, and those who learn how to do both.

People who perceive life through experience never want for company, they are everywhere all the time, and most of them are unaware of the other two groups. They tend to validate beliefs through personal experience, and so no amount of logic and reason can invalidate a belief they “know” to be true.

People who perceive life through knowledge are well aware of the first group. They were born processing experience over knowledge; it is the default setting for the human mind. Because it is often an awful struggle to acquire knowledge in a world where others not only place little value in it, but often reject it with contempt, the knowledge respecting person can sometimes grow bitter, and reject the world of experience where he was weaned, pretty much toss the baby out with the bath water.

Myth has power. It is a roadmap of the journey of the human heart and mind across a quarter million years, and all human knowledge is predicated on that foundation. It is a rich soil that welcomes deep roots, and the first logical mind, respecting reason over rationalizing, embraced that mystery.

A closed mind creates intractable answers to explain what can’t be easily understood. An open mind explores the nature of mystery, immerses in mystery, and when that mystery is mapped out by empirical understanding, the mystery is not molested, but revealed, honored and shared unreservedly.

These are the people of the third group. They are as rare as hen’s teeth. You probably have met one and never recognized them as such, probably wrote them off as oddball and idiotic at best, and dangerous and evil at worst.

Each of us expresses some aspect of all three groups, although we all tend to be predominantly indicative of one. Experience and knowledge based people are both capable of abiding contempt for the other, but you can often reason with the knowledge based person. You might have to drag him kicking and screaming into the light of day, but every now and again, it pays off and he awakens from the stupor.

The experience based person tends to zealously defend his credulity as sacred truth. He instinctively senses knowledge can unravel the “truth” he holds dear, so he applies his creativity and intellect where it cannot threaten him. He erects elaborate rationalizations of reality, deeply profound doctrines of hoary truth, backed by scholarship and articulation you can’t help but find beautiful and fraught with meaning.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Experience and knowledge

(Contact James Giago Davies at skindiesel@msn.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

Join the Conversation