On the one hand, no one, if asked, would like to get to the end of their life and wonder “What was that all about?”
On the other hand, many people go dancing through life, anesthetizing themselves to their own experience, rejecting the idea that they have a greater purpose than individual and species survival, and have the above experience when they get to the end of their lives.
I think people, when they get to the ends of their lives, would like to say something like the good and faithful servant in the 25th chapter of the gospel of Matthew, who said to the master who entrusted him with five bags of gold, “See, I have gained five more.”
I think people, when they get to the ends of their lives, would like to say something like Simeon said in the gospel of Luke, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.” (Luke 2:29, New International Version)
I think people, when they get to the ends of their lives, would like to say something like what the apostle Paul wrote to his protege Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
So what keeps this from happening for people? While there are a number of different answers, the answer that Step 4 of Steps to Knowledge offers is “assumptions unfounded in experience.”
“You want what you think you know, and this is what constitutes the basis of your understanding of yourself and your world. In fact, this constitutes the basis of your whole identity.You will find, however, upon honest examination that your understanding is based upon assumptions primarily, and these assumptions have not been founded upon your experience to a very great degree, if at all.” (Steps to Knowledge, Step 4, “I want what I think I know.”)
A commenter on the previous post pointed out that experience was an important part of knowing. And while I consider the signers of the Declaration of Independence as being an excellent instance of people knowing something, perhaps a less dramatic definition of knowing something might be “an experience of something being self-evident which inspires consistent action.”
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