What Do You Mean By “Know?”

Step 3 of Steps to Knowledge encourages students to investigate what they know…

“Today ask yourself what you really know and distinguish what you know from what you think or hope for or want for yourself or your world, what you are afraid of, what you believe in, what you cherish and what you value. Distinguish this question from all such orientations to the very best of your ability and ask yourself, “What do I really know?” You must continuously examine whatever answers you give to this question to see if they represent your beliefs or assumptions or the beliefs or assumptions of other people or perhaps even of humanity at large.”

When I did this Step, I was unwilling to stand forth and say “This I know,” because I was unclear that it was really what I knew, or whether it was merely a strongly held belief or opinion.  Was I being weak and fearful by not saying “This I know?”  Possibly.  On the other hand, at the time I did this step, many things I thought I knew at one time had been exposed by events as not being the case.  “Exposed by events” is a polite, diplomatic way of putting it.  “Beaten to a bloody pulp by events” is more like what actually happened.

At this point, I think that by the word “know,” Steps to Knowledge means, “to hold something to be self-evident, and to contribute to the support of that something one’s life, one’s fortune, and one’s sacred honor.”

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2 thoughts on “What Do You Mean By “Know?”

  1. Great connection between Knowledge and the American Founding fathers. That never occurred to me before. Thanks!

    The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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