Knowledge Revisioned (Sept 2001)

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The first order of revisioning knowledge is taking stock of the many demands and weaknesses of the concept. A beginning for this gathering of knowledge aspects can be found at the Knowledge Question web section. The point is that knowledge is a plastic concept that continues to expose new facets. So many things now pass under the rubric of knowledge - memes, large databases, the knowledge economy, animal intelligence, emotional intelligence, etc. So many social problems show ties to the way knowledge is used - the information glut, judgmentalism/self-esteem collapse/defensiveness, communication disorders, media manipulation, the political divide of demagoguery and cold technocrats, the wavering of education goals, etc. Knowledge was always connected to love and truth; now it is connected to power, domination, exploitation, ideological terror and so forth.

Meanwhile the faith of the Enlightenment in the ability to obtain a universally clear knowledge is receding as no one can any longer hope to follow the glut of new fields and publications of knowledge above us nor can anyone hope to stand on steady ground above the plethora of unconscious reactions within ourselves. The rational dream of potential omniscience is ceding to the awareness that each of us has knowledge that is only a niche in a much larger ecology of information.

The simple, epistemological faith in obtainable clarity is disappearing. Social dialogues are fraying into incoherence and hype. Pulling the new and diverse strands of the knowledge puzzle together, it is time to consider reweaving.


Once one realizes how much the knowledge concept has changed over historical time and how strained the concept is at present, one has the chance to try to hypothesize another or other ways of conceiving of knowing. Is it a fundamental property of how organisms relate to their environment in the sense of each animal "knowing" what to expect from its niche? Is it a kind of social glue that is binding all of us into an emerging superorganism? Is it possible to blend successfully Western cultural precise "certainty" with Eastern cultural awareness of knowledge grasping? Is knowledge a much more richly contextualized and local phenomenon rather than a one-size-fits-all definitive truth? Is there any ‘naturalized’ or biological explanation of knowledge?

The promising part of revisioning knowledge is that it helps us to escape the tired usual arguments such as subjectivity vs. objectivity or constructivity vs. perceptual neutrality. Even better it allows us to move beyond the overworn standard of accuracy with its spiritual presupposition that an accounting of facts is the be-all of life to the wondrous side of knowledge where it reaches to love and joy. As exciting as the goal of truth might have been in an earlier age, revisioning offers us the chance to reach for more.

At this website there is an open invitation for a revisioning of knowledge. Please bring any known reconceptualizations or potential conceptions to the attention of this site by using the e-mail links below.

That said, there is one particular metaphor of knowledge that is being more actively probed at the site.


The reconceptualization that has propelled me into beginning this odyssey is that knowing is an act of joining another in making a union, an alliance, a patterned relationship. To say that one knows a bicycle is to say that one has a behavioral alliance with a bicycle to be able to peddle down a street. To say that one knows the sum of small numbers is to say that when one encounters numerical situations one uses one’s alliance with summing number relationships to process the encountered quantities. Physicists know Newton’s laws of mechanics by an alliance of evidence, practices and peers. To know another person or a section of land is to have an alliance with them. Knowledge is not so much acquired, like contents, but grown as new alliances. We become larger through our knowledge unions. We do not so much act on ideas, with the problem of agency on one end and homunculus or viewership on the other end, as much as we act within a body that includes our knowledge alliances.

The beauty of knowledge as union as opposed to knowledge as idea is that one does not hide one’s connection to the known. Accuracy need not suffer and there are gains in accountability and dynamics. Rather than having knowledge be confined to the one, everlasting truth independent of mere mortals, knowledge as union opens up the ongoing making and rearranging of relationships between knowers and the knowns that reveal the rudiments of community, love, personality and the acts of being in an economy.

This theme is explored further in this web section and is also discussed as Incorporation Epistemology.  See the sections: Epistemology Unleashed (February 2001) or Knowledge:  A Choice (January 2002 or Overview, June 2002.


Revisioning knowledge goes hand in hand with revisioning other basic aspects of our lives and of our beliefs. Particularly the social fields of communication and psychology can be seen to benefit from eschewing a trafficking in ideals. Most importantly the connection to politics and especially a new field, epistemics - the adjudication of views between expert fields and public discourse by methods that include a measured return to rhetorical tactics, will be reviewed as part of the knowledge arena. Philosophically there are immediate ties to ethics and aesthetics since growing the unions of a knowledge body offers direct qualitative and value choices and strategies. The push on science and material concerns is slight and should be a welcome one if anything since science has always been without Aristotle’s formal and final causes, since any principles of organization have been lacking given obvious evidence of order without causal explanation, since science has been under a contradiction for years of saying that only physical causes exist which alone produced reason an allegedly autonomous and a-causal phenomenon and since science is undergoing a growing awareness of its social and institutional intrusions.

In short it is time to reconsider knowledge and our uses of it. This odyssey and this site want to grow into a new union, a new understanding of knowledge. Your joining that growth is welcomed and hopefully rewarding.

This section of the website is still under development. A synopsis of the thrust of the attempted reformulation of the concept of knowledge made in January of 2002 can be found in the section on Knowledge:  A Choice. An introduction (approximately 17 printed pages) can be found in the web article written in February of 2001 Epistemology Unleashed. A shorter overview of only 3 pages written in June of 2002 is short to the point of terse and reaches for connections beyond a narrow focus on knowledge in the web page Overview, June 2002

P.S. The website like the journey is continually growing and undergoing revision. If you do not find what you expected or if it is not clear enough, come back next month.


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