Quora answer: If you could have all knowledge and know-how of a subject/topic by one click, what would you choose?

May 22 2014

What is the nature and structure of the Western Worldview? And beyond that what is the nature of Scientific Discovery within our worldview and what are the alternatives to that which might shed some light on its underlying assumptions that are not immediately obvious? And beyond that what can be done with respect to transforming this worldview given its inherent structure to make it so that our worldview which has become dominant and global does not destroy the planet, other species, and ourselves.

This is my problematic. I have been pursuing research in this problematic for years. If you want knowledge you have to have a problematic. And it is that problematic that gives rise to the significant and relevant questions that need answers in order for you to gain knowledge with respect to the subjects that you find fascinating. There is no magic bullet that makes knowledge suddenly appear out of nowhere. Look at the people who have contributed to our knowledge within our worldview, they worked hard, very hard for long long time before they figured out what ever their contribution to our knowledge happened to be. Many tried and many failed before someone discovered something of value that we pass on in this tradition. So there is no magic bullet when it comes to seeking knowledge, but only hard work, probably without reward, for a lifetime and then results are not guaranteed.

One of my favorite books is Knowledge Painfully Acquired by Lo Chen Shun who thought about the relation between Confucianism and Buddhism for years when Chinese thought was under siege and tried to formulate in his mind a simple way of understanding the uniquely Chinese contribution that Buddhism had no answer to, and so his book represents a life time of deep thought about the key points of his native culture that were under threat, and why they were more valuable than what Buddhism had to offer.

We need this kind of thought very badly today about our tradition. What is the key thing about our tradition that if changed would prevent it from destroying us and the world too, along with all other species. What is going to have to change fundamentally so that the earth does not become like Venus too hot for our kind of life. Not enough thought has been done concerning this issue. So I decided long ago to work on it. And I have come up with some results that appear in my various papers. But the results are not good enough to avert disaster. And not enough others are thinking deeply about it to make a difference. But I am trying and you should be trying. If we all try very hard then perhaps someone will figure out how to cut the Gordian Knot that binds us to the fate we seem to have decreed for our planet which is against our own interests.

Pick a problematic of your own. Work on what fascinates you. Attempt to find the cutting edge of your discipline and do something creative there that advances the tradition. The success is in the working toward the end. It is human success. Success at being who we are inquisitive animals on a lonely planet with no other refuge in sight, yet we are fouling our own nest. What is the root of this perversion in our souls. What makes us suicidal? It is one thing we abhor that anyone would become a suicide bomber taking others with them in their evil self-destruction. But what do we say to a species that want to take all other species with them in a similar senseless self-destruction through the destruction of the planet, and every living thing on it including ourselves.

The situation is absurd. But if we don’t strive to understand what is driving us toward that self-made apocalypse then there is no chance we will change the direction of the car careening off the cliff. We have to stop it or turn it aside before it goes over the cliff edge. Regrets later will not be enough to satisfy the generations of suffering or dead or forever unborn victims of our insanity.


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