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Building Understanding

Author: Daniel Valliant    (all articles by this author)
Published on: December 7, 2001

What is understanding? Does it mean that you know something? Or perhaps that you comprehend some matter at hand? What do you understand?

Webster's defines understand as: To perceive and comprehend the nature and significance of; know.

Nature in turn is defined as the order, disposition, and behavior of all entities in the Physical Universe. Significance is defined as having meaning, and Perceive is awareness through senses or to understand. Know is also to understand.

So, we have a partially circular definition here that seems to apply our environment, and is quantified by an unassigned "meaning."

I don't know about you, but this doesn't seem to have gotten me anywhere. (I did hunt down a dictionary, that I thought I had lost, but that's beside the point.) Let's see if we can hunt down a definition that is a little more objective.

Perceive. Hmmm. Perception is relative to the observer. For instance if I am color-blind, and cannot see the color Orange, then to my perception, it does not exist. In my mind I might decide (and justifiably, according to my perception, and thus my 'understanding' of the Physical universe) that anyone who asserted that Orange did exist is in fact a blasphemous heretic, since I Know that Orange does not exist. You might decide, and again quite justifiably, that I am absolutely freakin' nuts, and choose adamantly or even vehemently to disagree with me. Worse yet would be if one of us tried to attempt to our belief (see LIE), and thus our will, upon the other. "Any attempt to impose my will upon another is violence." (Gandhi)

Wow. What a mess. Even beyond that we both would be wrong because color is merely our perception of a very small spectrum of wavelengths of light that can be seen by the naked eye.

Perception, is relative. In short the basis upon which we are agreeing to define our Understanding, and the validity of what we Know is such that we will always, let me repeat, ALWAYS disagree.

Pardon the irony of this next statement, but I think, I understand.

We have wars and hate and opposing religions because everyone Knows that they Understand. Everyone bases this upon what they perceive, and everyone's perception is different relative to the individual.

So the foundation; that which Stands Under our way of belief and action is like sand, separate and disjoined. Inevitably, all that which we build upon that sand will fall. Any building, of any shape, size or strength.

The Foundation must be solid, so that whatever is built upon it, will stand. It must Under-Stand.

We have, over time, developed a hit and miss civilization, sometimes finding the right way to do things, and sometimes just getting them done.

Perhaps it is no surprise that the most insightful definition is contained not in a dictionary, but in the word itself, expressed each time it is spoken. To have understanding is to have an Objective not Subjective foundation upon which to place our knowledge, and thus ourselves.

Also though there may indeed be a LIE in the center of every beLIEf, there is truth in every lie, for the center of each lie, contains I.

Finally, try out the feel of knowledge as an action: To know the ledge.

Of what?

Perhaps, our understanding.

Daniel Valliant

Originally published in Project X Newsletter #66

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