It's like a learned mental illness. You're taught to believe that your opinion is your own reality and people shouldn't be telling you that it's false. It's as if the universe is governed only by what you perceive with your senses. It seems it gets taught out of us to truly be curious of the underlying workings of all the things that exist in the universe.
It exists certainly in children, but it slowly gets "taught" out of us. We aren't taught to question anything other than if we should be atheists or agnostics; if we believe in God then we're not based in reality, we're told. It's just incredibly frustrating that anything I do to try and enlighten myself on these philosophical questions brings me only absurdity and nonsense.
Not to sound like I'm pontificating at all, but it only makes sense that God ordered the universe in such a way to make it comprehensible and understandable, and beautiful, for those who are willing to truly study its wonders, and not fall prey to simple observation. I see it therefore it is there is the excuse it seems we are taught to make for ourselves when we see anything we don't understand. We aren't taught properly; our minds are disordered in such ways that not only do we not understand the functions and order of things that we assume just happen because "God said so."
If we were simply meant to assume that things happen because they are just so, then what is the point of having creative reason? I certainly cannot believe that we have our creativity simply to amuse ourselves with our own little fantasy worlds when our reality seems to be either dull and boring, or too stressful and depressing. We are drawn too much towards escapism. It is as if it is taught out of us to be true problem solvers. Critical thinking has been watered down to answering questions on a worksheet.
So-called epistemology is, yeah, you perceive it, so it’s there - good job. And if you don’t see it, then you’ll mentally ill. It’s as if truth is something that comes pre-packaged; you’re supposed to just believe so-called experts when they spew out what they call facts. Oftentimes, they’re convenient little bits of truthfulness mixed with deceitful brainwashing techniques.
Truth is not subjective. Our perceptions certainly are, but if the universe were at the will of our own perceptions alone, then there would be total chaos. It would be like a dream world, except with even less order.
The other option seems to be to adopt a certain dogma. Then, you simply deny reason and base everything that you believe on mere faith in some book or some “spiritual leader.” At that point, you simply declare anything that doesn’t fit your so-called system of morals and beliefs as heretical and evil.
This is what we are taught, yes, even in schools, that religion is a destructive force to humanity. But we aren’t taught to properly reason, either. Conclusions are not the easiest thing to come by, certainly, but it is not hard to ask questions. Actually it is, because if you start asking a lot of questions, people want you to simply shut up and return to your little niche: your cubicle, your office, your basement, or your hideout, etc.
I wish I had some truly poignant dissertations available to those inquisitive minds that actually long to figure out how to fix the world’s problems and not simply become helpless victims to ignorance and pestilence. I’ve certainly allowed myself to be victimized by the distractions we are bombarded with every day. But all I’ve found in escapism is emptiness; it has left my soul and mind hollow and wanting.
It’s good to realize you are wanting something more to grasp and something new to explore. I am hardly alone in this realization that how things are currently laid out simply cannot continue. If we do not get a handle on how the universe actually operates and that mankind is indeed far more than some evolved form of ape, mass insanity will ensue. Perhaps I’m too late, and we’ve all just gone insane already.
And so, in that case, my study of so-called epistemology is for nothing. It’s just a waste of time. Well, you can’t just go by what’s written in books. Ask yourself the question, how do I know what I know? Or more simply, where do you learn things from? Take note of whatever answers come into your mind. Then analyze each of those sources (parents, school, books, magazines, television, radio, the Internet, wherever) and evaluate them. I think this is a useful exercise, and it isn’t abstract at all. The main issue is that we often confuse opinions for truth, and it is not that opinions are bad at all; we just need to know when someone has the facts right.
We shouldn’t generalize things as either true or false. That is not to say that something is true just because we believe it, or false simply because we do not understand it. But this is how a lot of people seem to conceptualize the idea of “true or false” and everything we are taught in this vein of “truthiness” (Yes, Stephen Colbert, I borrowed your word) is reduced to simple propositions, many obviously clearly true and many obviously absurd.
If something seems reasonable to us, and it comes from an “expert” source, we tend to assume that it has mostly truth to it. But people would have you believe that a lot of their opinions are actually truth, and then you are taught that truth is subjective based on people’s perceptions and how their own mind works. You have to “get inside someone’s head” to understand what they are saying. Truly, it is helpful to know how foolish people think as well as the great minds, of course. I know now that we don’t study the great minds enough, because we’re bombarded constantly with the works of the fools.
The one thing that I know, and this is truly not a new conception, is that I don’t know much of anything at all. I refuse to be taught by fools, but I think it is important that we help the foolish not to be fools. That may be an impossible task, so we should focus on those minds that are still hungry for true knowledge, and want to know how things actually work. Don’t just read it in a book and believe it to be true.
I probably don’t have to say it, but I will anyway, “Don’t believe everything you see in print.” Of course, that includes what I’m saying. What are my words but ramblings about my thoughts on the subject of epistemology? All my aim is here in this relatively brief essay is to make you question how you know anything is true. If I bring you to question the basis of how you know anything and bring you to discover a few little conclusions on how you came to do so, and bring a little surprise and introspection into your life, then I have done my part.