Epistemology bores me. However many stars there are in the galaxy, thirty, one hundred or two hundred billion I have only ever seen one significant figure given. I am glad someone is interested enough to try to work it out, but I am not, apart from a moment’s vague interest when the subject comes up.
There is a difference between engineering knowledge and other knowledge. I do not want the new Forth crossing to fall down, like the Cathedral at Saint Andrews did. But while I want certain questions about new buildings to be handled by engineers, in an entirely rationalist manner, doing the calculations to ensure safety and efficiency, I want the experience of the building to be created by the arty side of the architect’s brain, the whole human being speaking to me as a human being, inspiring me with beauty and grandeur, which are more than mere equations.
I heard that Newton’s Laws of Motion would be impossible without the Cartesian idea that nature might follow law, contra Occasionalism. Again, entertaining enough, I file away the idea. What do I need to know?
I need to know what works in my own life. I need to know where to buy food. I need to get an income, and whether I do this by claiming benefits or getting a job, I need to associate with other people in order to do so. And I know a huge amount about that. My knowledge comes from fifty million years of primate evolution, and a million years of human evolution, and my own 48 years of experience.
The trouble is that I know it two ways. I know it theoretically, and to that knowledge I might apply epistemology- critical realism, that there is something to know and I know it to an extent. But I also know it subconsciously, in my unconscious body language and emotional responses. I have thought about this more than most, perhaps, wondering whether a particular response was masculine or feminine around my transition, because it might get me read and insulted and negated; and hating my natural responses before my transition, finding them effeminate, and seeking to change them. But really thinking about it gets in the way. Theoretical and unconscious knowledge conflict, befouling both.
I hear looking up to the left before answering a question means checking memory, and looking up to the right means crafting a lie, and might remember that, then be confused when I catch myself looking up to the right. One can apply rational conscious thought to these things, but it is difficult. Meanwhile, I know unconsciously, and my knowing drifts into consciousness through my feelings and intuitions, or does not, but affects my actions.
How to respond to new knowledge? In distress- I have been wrong, I will have to think things through again, how can I be sure of this- or in joy?
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