Parasites of Thought – The Quality of Knowledge
The most fundamental of all questions doesn’t relate to where we come from, nor where we are going. The most basic and at the same time most difficult of all questions goes: what is knowledge?
The problem in answering this question lies in the fact, that the instruments applied consist themselves of knowledge. Progress in understanding has been constrained within narrow boundaries.
Instead continually new thought-parasites are created, like in this slightly modified saying:
One should know that thoughts have fleas
Upon their backs to bite ‘em.
And the fleas themselves have fleas,
And so ad infinitum.
Our basic problem cannot be answered sensibly without consideration of disinformation, according to Wittgenstein: in order to specify the edge of knowledge, it is necessary to know both sides of this definition – in other words: one should know what one cannot know.
The phenomenon of Passive Disinformation (the Qualitative Blind Spot) is the key to knowledge. Before its recognition there are hardly any alternatives to blind identification. Any reason which contradicted the traditional approach has been demonized up to now:
Nature is sin, and mind is devil,
They nurture doubt, in doubt they revel,
Their hybrid, monstrous progeny.
or at least been criminalized:
Behold the believers of all beliefs!
Whom do they hate most?
The man who breaks up their tables of value
the breaker, the law-breaker –
yet he is the creator.
Servan wrote in 1767: »A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas; [...] this link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what it is made and we believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the bonds of iron and steel, but they are powerless against the habitual union of ideas, they can only tighten it still more; and on the soft fibers of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest of Empires« (quoted by Foucault).
The development to our globally networked knowledge society is a leap of cultural evolution, that can scarcely be mastered with the largely unchanged control mechanisms of the last centuries (especially for nations poor in natural resources). Even the »soundest of Empires« can sink to the level of the developing countries, if poor decisions are taken or the basic conditions change.
Now, however, many organizations are founded on disinformation (and kept alive more or less artificially). The introduction of sound information can there lead to collapse. On the other side, making this topic taboo creates new problems and exploitable gaps, not forgetting that ethical aspects are also affected. What is required is a responsible approach to our basic weakness.