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The Epistemological Continuum

So I just watched Cloud Atlas and at this time, would like to completely throw this draft out the window and start anew, but I won’t. I’ll simply mull over my life in my own little world that I may or may not have any control over any longer. My only regret is not watching it before publishing this post. Please do watch it the first chance you get.


This past week in class has been lush with rich, deep conversation about epistemology, which I seem to have a habit of spelling as “epistomology.” Thankfully I understand what it is better than how I can spell it. Our messy discussions on the study of knowledge have resulted in big words and long, complex phrases being thrown around but centered around the question “what is knowledge?” for without a definition knowledge, how can one define the study of it?

Our eventual conclusion was that the true truth may or may not be attainable but there is a truth endorsed by people that is the result of collective (relatively) mutual knowledge gained through sharing, beliefs/reason and personal experiences. Said knowledge, then, is mixed and matched into paradigms. However, these paradigms again may or may not be completely true – most likely not. And so again began the discussion of what is truth, and again began the cycle.

Outside of the classroom,  asking questions like “where do you think humans get knowledge from?” netted me answers such as “uhm…..genetics?……Yeah.”

Paradigms were quite a large component of our discussions. Paradigms structure the pursuit of knowledge through questioning beliefs. But, as we all know, some paradigms vary from person to person, and even society to society. Who’s to say who’s right and who isn’t?

Then comes the problem of paradigm shifts – all the work, all the knowledge built up into a paradigm would be useless if the paradigm were to shift – think of a building as knowledge and the earth as the foundation, or a paradigm. When the foundation shifts, the building gets damaged (or comes crashing down, depending on how severe the “shift” is) and the building must be repaired better, stronger with materials better suited for handling the natural disaster that is the pursuit of knowledge.

So to break it down (pun not intended):

  • We may or may not know what the truth is
  • Paradigms help bring us closer to this hypothetical truth by giving structure to our pursuit
  • Everyone has a slightly different paradigm, which is a result of mixing and matching parts of other paradigms
  • Paradigms are created from knowledge, which is in turn created from experiences and beliefs

And to put it back together, I think all humans are linked together in a pursuit of knowledge that may or may not render fruit and may not even be worthwhile, but it is what keeps us human.



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