Wednesday, June 22, 2016

how does one arrive at knowledge?

a particular building in general
How does one arrive at knowledge? This is a question going back thousands of years. It's a fun question to contemplate. One could fill entire libraries with books offering theories, models and explanations. Nobody has the last word. The dominant model changes along with fashion.

One could learn a lot, or stimulate the brain by exploring such questions. Many of the theories are ingenious and delightful works of conceptual or philosophical art. Sometimes little ideas caused Lohbado to stop and scratch his head, or to stand back and reflect in admiration.

For example, over breakfast, Lohbado read a passage describing how one's mind synthesizes, unifies or binds together a diversity of sense data. The first encounter with an object is on a physical or empirical level. Lohbado saw an apartment block near Jean Talon market in Montreal. Often one might walk by such a building without even noticing, or with nothing more than a one or two second glance. If one stopped to look closer, at the moment of seeing the building, the word "building" or "apartments" might pop into one's mind. In order to understand the experience, the collection of sense data relating to the object is given a name, which represents the general form of what is being seen.

This gives rise to a further level of understanding, the word, label or object in general. To summarize: first while walking by the above building, Lohbado noticed something. Second, he noticed it was a building, an apartment block. Third, building has a general definition of the word building. This is an oversimplified version of what Lohbado was reading. It can get complex, detailed and controversial.

Next question: how do mental and physical aspects interact? This is part of the old mind/body duality. One lives in a world of physical things (empirical reality), but sorts them out using the invisible world of intellect (abstract or transcendental reality). Even if one walks into a science lab and observes a screen showing a brain scan, various parts of the brain highlighted according various types of mental activity, this doesn't explain how a physical particle or substance could generate something occurring on a non-physical or mental level. How does awareness come out of a physical thing such as a neuron? Of course, Lohbado often wondered how movies and things appear on his computer screen. If he took apart the computer, he would find electronic things, but no images or sounds.

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