Knowing, knowable, and knowledge

Humans are notoriously curious. They ask questions, they poke, and they tinker with things to feed their hunger of knowing. But among them, there is one specific kind that should be responsible about this activity of knowing: “scholars”.

For scholars, the action of knowing cannot (and should not) be taken for granted. In knowing, they must pose questions at least at three levels.

First, what is reality? “Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? The world around us is the reality!” That’s the point. What is the world that we live in? Is it something that you can see? Is it something that people think? Is it also include something beyond that? Defining reality is an important step because “knowing” is an action that necessarily needs an object, that is “reality”. Humans are in the project of knowing their world.

 Knowing is possible once reality is established.

Knowing is possible once reality is established.

In turn, the way scholars define reality will determine what is knowable. That is, what are the legitimate objects that can be known and, subsequently, how those “knowables” can be known? In other words, this can be phrased as the second question: how the knowables can be known? This is what “method” is all about.

If a method is a vehicle through which the want-to-know-er can get to the destination, then the destination itself is something called as knowledge. But knowledge needs not be limited to what is known, knowledge can also include something that is unknown (yet) but still knowable. It is like a map where there are some areas that are still covered with black clouds with a warning “Beware! Dragon lurks here.” The fact that we are aware of those areas is itself a knowledge. Knowledge, then, can be defined as an understanding of the known and an active awareness of the unknown knowables.

 Areas of the ‘knowables’.

Areas of the ‘knowables’.

In the end, scholars should arrive at the final question: if I know what I want to know, then so what? Once scholars are able to be honest with themselves and answer this question, knowledge is then freed from the jail of its possessor and transformed into wisdom. The possession of knowledge will transcend its possessor and, since it will enable oneself to see from a higher level, should bring scholars to the realization that: the more one knows, the more one knows that one does not know.

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