Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Types of Knowledge

Originally posted on April 27, 2014

There is a spectrum here. There’s stuff I know pretty much with certainty and then stuff I pretty well know but I could tolerate being corrected. Then there’s stuff I sort of know and I can go back and retrieve other memories and shore this up. Sort of “yes, that was when… and the book I read about it, I remember the name….” More iffy is the stuff that I vaguely know but am not entirely sure about.  Then there’s the stuff that I don’t know. The point I’ll make here is that the mid-range is very susceptible to other attitudes and needs.

One of these variables that affects the mid-range is temperament: Some people’s sense of reality when it comes to ambiguous memory is tighter, they know what they see, they don’t doubt. (Actually, they may be flat mistaken, but that doesn’t enter into this dynamic. They are fully compelled by not only their perceptions, but the interpretations of those perceptions. In terms of Transactional Analysis, they’re more “I’m okay, you’re not okay.”

Other people’s sense of reality is more tenuous. Their temperament  is more, “I’m not okay, you’re okay,” and so they defer to those who are more confident. Ideally, one is more in the middle and is willing to check according to other criteria.

Another variable deals with the number of external sources—people or books—that agree. Or it might be the need to believe, which may be political, economic, religious, personal, etc. There is a deep pay-off in thinking such-and-such is so or not so, and this dynamic may be quite sincere and unconscious.

The painful point is that memory has been revealed again and again to be quite vulnerable to illusion and wish-fulfillment through many anecdotes, legal processes, psychological experiments. It’s painful because we often don’t have better sources of evidence in legal proceedings. It’s also painful because memory is a major foundation for the sense of self.

Ah, well, the world is changing, and many elements in our views about the ways we think are facing paradigm shifts. More will be written about this, the nature of faith as well as memory, etc., in the coming weeks.

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