Thursday, 14 April 2016

Thought 182: Knowledge & Sensibility

In his book Human All Too Human, A Book for Free Spirits, Nietzsche penned the following observation within the text of aphorism 34
"I believe that the decision with regards to the aftereffects of [...] knowledge will be given through the temperament of a man."
I wholeheartedly agree with this insight with the proviso that I would be tempted to add "through the temperament and sensibility of a man."

Temperament in English contains the word temper and generally covers in its meaning the mood dispositions of an individual. 

Thus, new in-formation has to be interpreted  and the ensuing decision over how to interpret this in-formation is, according to Nietzsche, largely governed by basic mood disposition

While sensibility undoubtedly includes temperament, i.e. mood disposition, it also includes other elements of the psyche such as character, imagination, taste, physiological make-up, personality preferences, comfort zones, discomfort zones, sensitivities, neuroses, creativity, morality, intellect and so forth. 

Thus, in my way of thinking, the way one chooses to deal with information, to accept it or fight it, to modify it or subscribe wholly to it, to ignore it or engage with it, is the result of a conscious or even unconscious decision governed by one's unique sensibility, as described above. 

Although apparently mundane, this insight governs a huge proportion of human intellectual and artistic life, in so far as everyone has a potentially and relatively unique sensibility – including the victims of mass mind control techniques who've yet to come to consciousness – which will colour how all sensory data (visual, audio, tactile) and consequently knowledge as well as art will be received, propagated and passed down.

Sensibilities vary hugely among the human population and over time, even though modern psychological research has tried to categorise and narrow them down to basic 'personality' traits, and that variety in sensibility will ensure a permanent diversity of opinions, likes, dislikes, beliefs, fashions and so forth. 

Some sensibilities will clash, others will complement each other, still more will derive inspiration and energy from each other and all this chemical reaction contributes to the intellectual as well as physical reality we co-exist in and constitutes perhaps the true motor of history, if indeed there is such a thing. 

A good example is the rather taboo world of conspiracy research. 

Narratives that seek to undermine consensus reality and manufactured worldviews will be received with glee by some, with hostility by others or else completely ignored in favour of safer, less threatening narratives.  

As such, it is not just your focus that determines your reality, as claimed in Star Wars Episode One by a Jedi master, but your sensibility which includes character

Or better still, it is your sensibility that will determine what you choose to focus on, and therefore your psychic reality. 

In schematic form we may say that, following Star Wars philosophy, sensibility leads to focus itself leading to self-reality, both received and manifested. 

Knowledge, or art for that matter, are not objective quantities but always first received and decided upon according to individual and collective sensibility and as I've written elsewhere on this blog (Political Diversity) this diversity may be the saving grace of humanity ensuring not only our survival but also our flourishing. 

[However the same could be said of a people's decline if their sensibilities are misguided, i.e. unable to distinguish truth from falsehood, and under the influence of toxic influences stemming from environmental and spiritual bankruptcy.

Controversial philosopher Martin Heidegger sought to redress this decline in sensibility by restating the problem of Being, what is, but Heideggerian sensibility remains a rarity.]

There is one problem I have left ambiguous so far on this blog post which is the question that asks: at what point does information become knowledge

Is it precisely when in-formation has been received and decided upon, that is to say, interpreted

Is knowledge in essence interpretation which, as we have seen, is itself determined by sensibility?

In-formation, a most felicitous green language, will form you from within and thus contribute to your sensibility for, as Mark Passio repeats in his podcast series, we are all that we take into ourselves (which includes food, obviously, but also what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears). 

This in-formation will presumably, given the right circumstances, give rise to knowledge when it has been ingested and digested, interpreted and critically evaluated. 

This process of ingestion, digestion, interpretation and critical evaluation will be governed by sensibility by whatever means, moral or immoral, sensibility comes to be shaped and influenced in the first place. 

Addendum - Another word that captures the idea of sensibility is attunement which is perhaps a better translation of the German term Stimmung than temperament. 

Attunement is the preferred choice in Heideggerian scholarship for translating Stimmung