Daniel Boorstin, a noted American historian declared in his book, “The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself,” that, “More appealing than knowledge itself is the feeling of knowing.” Boorstin in this quote had gleaned from his study of history that the comfort of “the feeling of knowing” often, if not most of the time, would triumph over knowledge itself. Throughout history we have records of cultures in which “the feeling of knowing” proved to lead to their demise while letting that “feeling” give way to some critical thinking could have allowed them to continue, though with a moderated view of reality.
It is comforting to feel that one knows, permitting one to “know” that one knows. It is so comforting that human nature has hard-wired us to prefer “knowing that we know” in the interest of preserving our tribe. But when the world grows so small…as we are now experiencing…then “knowing what we know” begins to compete with other tribes who “know that they know” with equal conviction. Then violent conflict ensues unless leadership is available which will direct us to tolerate the notion that diametrically opposing ideas of reality can co-exist. There is no need to attempt to obliterate “them” just because we see “them” as, “not knowing correctly.”
The core issue is the comfort of “feeling that we know” not understanding the wisdom of poet W. H. Auden who told us that, “feeling knows no discretion but its own.” Auden knew that our view of the world is not a rational matter, but one whose origin lies beneath the surface in the murky realm of feelings, closely akin to the unconscious. But to recognize this truth is to take away the certainty that we can have in believing our beliefs and discounting anything or anyone that threatens them. Another word for this realm of feelings is the heart, that center of our being which is unlocked only when we are willing to forego the tyranny of rational thinking and permit the grace of a non-tyrannical rationality which is quickened with the intuitive wisdom of the heart.
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