Knowledge, in the sense applicable to a human mind, is more than just an awareness of reality. It is an understanding of reality. Implicit in the concept of knowledge are the axioms of existence, identity and consciousness. Knowledge must have a subject (something must exist), content (things must have a specific identity for anything to be known about them) and it must be held by a consciousness. Perceptions (the involuntary integration of sensations) are man’s units of information about reality. However, man does not have the ability to retain perceptions. Apart from the perceptions of the immediate moment, knowledge is retained in the form of concepts. The ability to think and form concepts is reason. Knowledge thus rests on perceptual data and reason.
Apart from simple concepts like ‘Length’ or ‘Red’ which are abstractions from perceptual data, most concepts depend on other concepts. For example, the concept ‘Illusion’ depends on concepts like ‘Reality’, ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Truth’. The concept ‘Virtue’ depends on the concepts ‘Action’ and ‘Value’. Thus knowledge has a hierarchy. One cannot properly use a concept if one does not understand (or accept) the concepts that it depends on.
Here are a few examples that violate the hierarchy of knowledge.
“Everything is an illusion”. The concept ‘Illusion’ is used to deny the concept ‘Reality’ on which it depends.
“All property is theft”. The concept ‘Theft’ is used to deny the concept ‘Property’ on which it depends.
“Change is the only constant”. The concept ‘Change’ depends on a fixed standard but the assertion denies any fixed standards.
Filed under: Concepts |