Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Epistemology

Monticello Vineyards, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 15, 2009



This essay, Epistemology, is the second entry in The Laurence Platt Dictionary:

In the ordinary course of events, in a world which does business as usual  most of if not all of the time, it's hidden from who you are, from who you're being. You're unaware of it. It's the who you're being  which you don't know. And it's not merely that you don't know this who you're being. It's worse than that. It's that you don't know that you don't know  this who you're being.

This who you're being  isn't located in what  you know. Rather, it's located in how you've strung together  what you know. It's not what you know. It's how you hold  everything you know - and you don't know  how you hold everything you know, and you don't know that you don't know  how you hold everything you know.

It's your epistemology:  not what  you know, but rather how you hold  everything you know. It's a slippery  distinction at best, an inconceivable  one at worst.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:

<quote>
Definition
epistemology


noun
the part of philosophy that is about the study of how we know things
<unquote>

Notice how slippery  even the dictionary definition of epistemology  is. Notice the dictionary definition includes the non-specific, vague terms "part", "philosophy", "about", "study", followed by "how we know things".

I'd go for this slippery  dictionary definition a little more if we could exchange "how we know things"  with "how we hold  the things we know".
Werner Erhard refers to epistemology  this way in Professor William Warren Bartley III's official biography "Werner Erhard: The Transformation of a Man - The Founding of est"  in the chapter titled "Experiments" in part II of the book, "Education":


<quote>

I SUSPECT ALL CODIFICATIONS, PARTICULARLY MY OWN. IN PRESENTING MY OWN IDEAS, I EMPHASIZE THEIR EPISTEMOLOGICAL  CONTEXT. I HOLD THEM AS POINTERS TO THE TRUTH, NOT AS THE TRUTH ITSELF.

<unquote>


Then again, later in the same chapter:


<quote>

IN THE WORK OF TRANSFORMATION, THE EPISTEMOLOGY  IS ALTERED FROM A WELL-CONCEIVED BELIEF SYSTEM TO SOMETHING OTHER THAN BELIEF, TO A CONTEXT IN WHICH ONE IS SENSITIVE TO THE DANGERS OF ANY AND ALL BELIEF SYSTEMS.

<unquote>


That feeling  you always have? That thing  you've got going on in the background (which you don't know that you don't know  you've got going on in the background) which jabs you and tells you "Something's wrong! Something's wrong!"? The power of that  thing, the power of that "something's wrong" doesn't come from anything you know. The power of that "something's wrong" comes from the prejudice of epistemology  ie "something's wrong" is inherent in, is embedded in the way you've organized everything  you know.

Processes in Werner's work of transformation are designed to give you a sense of what an "originating incident"  is. Originating incidents  are incidents which occurred in the past, around and during which you made decisions which shaped your epistemology  and therefore shaped your view of life  subconsciously ever since.

It's always there. Even though hidden, even though forgotten, it's always shaping, always bending, always molding, always skewing your life. Forgetting it's there is what Werner distinguishes as not what you know  but rather what shapes what you know  and therefore what shapes the way you think. It's as unique as your fingerprint, as specific as the pattern in your iris, as personal as the configuration of the taste buds on your tongue. Yet you just can't see it. You've forgotten it's there.

You could define transforming your life  as being synonymous with becoming senior  to your particular epistemology.



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