There is, in a profoundly disturbing way, no reason for knowledge or understanding or elucidation. Why? It’s as temporary as you are. Unlike money or property, intellectual or otherwise, whatever’s in your head, whatever flights of fancy you may have, whatever you’ve learned over a long life goes with you to the grave.
Pretty damned depressing.
The alternative is ignorance, which for some is quite delightful, but is not terribly fulfilling if you have questions or concerns, and modern life is awash in pertinent questions. Some are ordinary or rudimentary, such as how does one work the microwave-those burritos don’t cook themselves-to others more esoteric like whether purple is really my color.
Some border on the profound. Life after death, for example, which may truncate this entire line of thought. That, of course, is predicated on there actually being an afterlife rather than one merely or fervently prayed for. There are, more importantly, those questions which go to the heart of the human condition such as what we are and why we are and whether plowing through that reference book on philosophy will make me better understand, at least more so than I do now, why I’m not more popular.
Then there are questions of history, genealogy, biology, and playing the numbers; all of which touch on the kaleidoscopic nature of human existence, not to mention all the other animal, plant, and sea life on our blue little orb.
To learn is to know, which is what school is supposedly for.
School, for most of us, is, or was, the point of informational acquisition and the formation of personal thought that causes people like me to use words like informational acquisition when learning is perfectly acceptable. Though, in truth, I blame reading for my verbosity, another learned skill from my days in a classroom.
But really, the value of knowing something is based, in part, on not being taken advantage of, or being undervalued, or in this snowballing technical age, not having the wherewithal, knowledge-wise, to function. Can there be any greater calamity than being out of any particular social loop?
The wrinkle today, as it has always been-which is why history and historical malfeasance is so important to learn-is whether the information before you is true, which begets the notion of truth, which traverses off into ideas about whether anything is actually true, which is, in and of itself, subjective. Is anything hard and true?
Or is it merely what I choose to believe?
Aside from producing headaches and confused looks from bystanders, the quest for knowledge, to understand the state of things, is primarily a coping mechanism in times, much like now, when the world seems a tad unreal. As such, human beings have, for generations, been questioning and seeking to understand our often arbitrary actions across history, but in doing so, they leave us with the answers should we seek to find them.
The finer point is whether we have the will to find them?
That, ultimately, is the point in the value of knowledge as, one hopes, it transitions into wisdom, something singularly out of vogue these days and in deep want.
It affords something meaningful to take with you in that final shuffle.
It also allows you to lord it over others.
©2019 David William Pearce