Epistemology – It’s Fascinating

The study of epistemology has been underway for 2400 years, which is not surprising since it translates to reasoning your way to knowledge, thus making philosophy impossible without it. A broader definition is an attempt to reason our way to an understanding of how we learn and how we know. It is an attempt to understand the ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how’ of scholarship. 

I was awarded a scholarship at age eleven and was promptly introduced to the scholarly arts. Looking back, I was so fortunate. I tasted freedom at a very young age. And I loved it. My goal ever since has been the pursuit of scholarship. I hope that you will introduce your children to the pursuit and delights of scholarship too. After life itself, it is the most precious gift we can give.

Scholarship is what happens when children are allowed to unleash their Hybrid Skills and use them to Ideate their Justified Belief. Without using this ability, children’s lives especially will be diminished because they cannot distinguish facts from lies yet, which means they can become prey. Unleashing their innate abilities however, will allow them to actualize their true self. And that way lies freedom and happiness. 

Even the most casual observer of human behavior can see that all of us can potentially do scholarship. We all know we have this mystical ability to reason our way to knowledge. Why mystical? Because the act and process of learning itself has a great deal to do with the non-material – spiritual – part of our being. Certainly, we can observe that neurons fire when we think, and see that blood nourishes cognition, but the mind is the seat of learning and is itself, mysterious, immaterial and not visible. And immaterial things are not subject to the same analysis as physical entities. We can see brain activity in an fMRI as a person thinks. But we can only know what we know about the mind by observing and examining its outward signs or manifestations. It is called teleology; an attempt to figure out what something is by examining the end purpose or goal for which it aims. In other words, inferring mental activities from the results it produces. 

The mind must be aimed at something. Why else would it be there?   

Most philosophers, almost no scientists, and all the spiritual traditions believe in the presence of a non-physical aspect in Nature. Amongst philosophers and theologians, it is widely accepted that the spiritual, non-physical, parts of Nature are the transcendent gifts of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. And since we are part of Nature, we too must share in these non-physical gifts. They are as much a part of our being as the visible, physical, material parts of our being. And somehow we not only know and recognize the external – physical – aspects of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, we share in their immanent nature too. They are who we are. We do not learn Truth, Beauty and Goodness, we share in them and recognize them from birth. We are participants in these transcendentals. We are not just manifestations of them, we are them.

I believe that the best conclusion one can arrive at after examining the mind is that its goal is that it exists to enable learning. And so, I see no reason why Learning should not be considered the Fourth Transcendental of Nature alongside Truth, Beauty and Goodness. As with the other gifts, we do not learn Learning either. It is immanent, native, unacquired, shared and recognized by all humans from birth. It is as much a part of our being as the other mystical gifts of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, all of which are both prerequisites for Learning and its goal.  

The only one of these four transcendentals we can actually see, however, is Beauty. And not coincidentally we all seem to yearn for Universal Beauty. In turn it beckons us. And being captivated by Beauty and illuminated through its lens means we can Learn about Truth and Goodness and be empowered to reason our way to knowledge. And because we share in all these mystical gifts we can begin to understand our uniqueness in Nature and our place in it.

Through our mind we alone are able to participate in a higher consciousness, making that its goal. It takes work. And help. But all of us are born knowing Learning from the insides of each of one of our cells.

The reason why an infant human is born knowing how learn must be because it needs to find out how to become an adult, and it needs to have tools to do this, and mysteriously those tools are present at birth. That is fortunate because how can one get tools if one cannot learn? Newborns possess all the Hybrid Skills; they just need practice to polish them and data to work with. It is who they are. They do not need to be taught these eleven skills, just nudges and stimuli. And love.

I have pondered all this for decades. Life first became a lot clearer for me when as a young teen I was first taught the difference between the transcendent quality that is ‘Beauty’ for example and the various representations of ‘Beauty’ such as a rose, and that my ability to differentiate them made me unique. I was taught that the qualities of transcendent gifts are just what they are. Truth is just that. Goodness is goodness, it has no other descriptors. It is defined and bounded by the one word – Goodness. It is nothing else. Nothing more or less. Not only that, but I was also taught that I already shared in these universal, transcendental gifts; they were engraved on my soul. The best news was that I also possessed the necessary qualities and agencies – the Superpowers – of higher being because I had a fourth gift in which I shared. The gift of Learning. To quote Plato, “It was engraved on my soul.” So, why should Learning not be the Fourth Transcendental?

Learning is Learning. Its external signs – schools, books, libraries, teachers, media – are its manifestations to help me think, intuit, remember, and imagine. I was born able to use my mind. Everyone was. That’s the miracle. And miracles cannot be taught.

We are captivated by Universal Beauty through and with our senses. And in that sense our senses are a membrane through which an intimate, two-way osmosis between us and our environment takes place. We can literally recycle carbon, air, water, and energy, the physical parts of Nature. But we can also recycle the mystical parts of Nature, the non-material bits, through our mind. And both are native skills. 

The mystical gift of Learning allows us to monitor, regulate and process this constant exchange between our physical bodies, our mental agencies, and our environments. 

Without the transcendental gift of Learning which is composed of cognition and intuition, memory, and imagination, we would be unable to think, reason, remember, and hypothesize. In other words, we would be unable to make transcendental meaning; something we actually know how to do.

And all this because we yearn to be captivated by Beauty and through it be led to Truth and Goodness. And on through Learning to a personal, and authentic Ideated Meaning. If that is not the purest design of a virtuous circle I do not know what is.

Until recently, however, we needed just a single porous membrane through which our senses exchange signals with our physical environment, the biosphere and atmosphere. In a seminal, unrepeatable and irreversible shift, now we also need a second two-way permeable membrane to interact with the looming, next-frontier, digital, Übersphere; the Metaverse. And if we wish our children to continue learning, and not just floating, inside this soon-to-be Hyperreality, then they will need help to discern what is Beauty, Truth or Goodness -and what is not – in this environment also. Even transcendentals have their dark sides, and just-as-surely they will also seep through this second two-way membrane. And the fourth transcendental, Learning, is our only way to “Reason our way to knowledge.” 

The good news is that we already know how to literally recycle data into knowledge. (See the Chapter on Infoliteracy in my book Hybrid Learning) We possess Eleven Hybrid Skills and using them we can harmonize our relationships with both the Real and Hyperreal Worlds. And in both worlds, harmony can only be achieved through questions. Questions are thinking and thinking is questioning. Questions are the sound your mind makes when you think.

Encourage your child to come to their understanding – through questioning – that a court of law is not Truth, it is its symbol. A rose is not Beauty, it is its manifestation. A house of worship is not Goodness, it represents it. In the same way, Learning is a non-material transcendental that exists entirely apart from the outward signs of learning such as the teachers, classrooms and things that help us learn. Learning is that quality that is learning. And we are in receipt of this gift. It is engraved in each one of us and waiting; including you and those you help. 

To do what? This is a mostly a book about the best practices of pedagogy, so the Terego Ideation Method™ (Link to Free Workbook) is geared to actualizing children’s potential.  

But reaching one’s real potential surely is not just limited to reaching it in the material realm, it must also be reached in the realm of our current, mystical, nonmaterial world also. Why else would the non-material world exist?  And I am not the only writer on education who thinks that Learning has a mystical dimension. Maria Montessori is clear about this. And the final Intelligence in Prof. Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory, and the topmost need in Maslow’s Hierarchy have to do with the Existential – Mystical – aspect. The one which allows us to actualize ourselves by delving into mysteries such as why we are here, or how do we learn. 

As a Scholarship Boy, I rarely had to take tests like children do today. Mostly, I was asked to answer questions in the form of an essay. At the end of the essay, I would write Q.E.D – Quod erat demonstrandum. I proved it! My teachers would usually neither agree nor disagree. They would begin asking more questions. And I would defend my position. Eventually I would rework my ideas – and so on. 

Similarly, most of what I have written and what you have read in this essay is subjective and not really provable. It is just my best attempt at a Justified Belief. This has been my attempt to defend and share my theses about pedagogy, the best practice of teaching, and epistemology, the theory behind the practice. Their real credibility even efficacy, however, will only be tested, enhanced, or diminished – but not disproved – by the answers to the questions readers ask of themselves and others after reading the book. Q.E.D. 

In short: This is an Alternative Perspective on Pedagogy. 

Children are born equipped with all the skills they need in order to learn. It is self-evident that they somehow possess an interior Hybrid Skillset that urges them to learn, ideate, and flourish into more complete human beings. They know how to know. 

As a consequence, what they need most is help and encouragement to practice and polish their innate Hybrid Skillset. 

Teachers and Parents have the same Hybrid Skillset as their children, just for a lot longer. So, they are best placed to help children practice and polish their native Hybrid Skills.

But teachers and parents also need assistance, encouragement and perhaps permission to adopt the tutorial role of a Guide on the Side rather than the familiar, lecture-style of a Sage in the Stage.

Try this with your children.

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 #Ideation #Hybridskills #Justifiedbelief #Futureproof #Infoliteracy

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Excerpted from my book Hybrid Learning.