The Epistemological Pirouette: Gnana Marga

 

‘There was a young man who said: ‘Though,
It seems that I know that I know,
What I would like to see,
is the ‘I’ that knows ‘Me’,
When I know that I know that I know.”


You are a restless seeker, a Philosophy-Junkie. And you want to know all about ‘Know’. You want to know what ‘Knowledge’ means.

Not to worry. There is such a subject. And it is called Epistemology. You’ve come to the right department.

Epistemology is the scholarly study of ‘Knowing’ while firmly resident in the Know. It is knowing all about ‘Knowing’ and ‘Knowledge’. [Can you smell the Self-Loop?]

Empistemology [‘Know’] and Ontology [‘Be’] are the twin foundations of Philosophy. Any grand discourse on Philosophy without a clear investigated statement about these two stances is not worth the paper it is written on.


So you ask a Professor of Epistemology for the definition of the word ‘Knowledge’.

He might give you list [a safe response] but odds are that on that list is the phrase ‘Justified True Belief’ or something very close. [The original translated phrase from the Classical Greek is ‘True Belief with an Account’].

What’s so special about ‘Justified True Belief? It is the closest thing we have to an original definition for the word ‘Knowledge’. And it first emerges in the Theaetetus, in Plato’s Dialogues. Hence it is the ‘Classic’ definition.

The Theaetetus is where it all began. It is the source, the Mother-Lode for this subject called Epistemology.

And the Theaetetus, the founding source for the classic definition of ‘Knowledge’ is not about what ‘Knowledge’ is, but rather about what it is not. And why the word ‘Knowledge’ cannot be defined [read it; or see the next Post].


The  word ‘Know’ traces its roots directly back to the Latin Gnosis, which in turn traces back to the Sanskrit Gnana, the earliest direct translation of which was as the English word ‘Wisdom’.

Why are the Religious Classes of every Culture, those granted closest access to the Deity, the Brahmins and the Pastors, the Rabbis and the Imams, always from the ‘Learned Class’? This inner circle to the sanctum [did I forget the Professors?] whose proudest possession is the claim to ‘Know’?

Vedic-Texts [from Vid] are translatable as ‘Knowledge-Books’. Gnana Marga is the ‘Path of Knowledge’. All other Paths get you in the periphery, but the seal of conviction is impossible unless one goes through and past this word ‘Know’.

So what is it about this word ‘Know’?

What is so special about it? A word for which, after 5000 years of Language, intriguingly overlapping with the birth of the Kali-Yuga, we still do not have a proper definition.

Kali Yuga, from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa [beginning around 400 BCE]:

There will be monarchs, men of churlish disposition and violent temper…Property alone will show rank.. wealth the only devotion..passion the sole bond of sexual union.. the Earth venerated for its mineral treasures..fine clothes will be dignity..(The Sacred thread ) the Brahmin.. menace and presumption will substitute for learning..dishonesty, the universal means of subsistence..

Kali Yuga ends when the understanding of Veda stands fully inverted, upside down.

[This was tucked away in one of my old files. I don’t recall the lucid Translator of this verse. If you do, drop me a note.]


What is it about eating of the fruit of the famed Binary, the Two-ness Template, the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’, of having your eyes opened, of having to die, and then ‘Living Forever?

The ‘Testimony of Truth’, a Gnostic Gospel, stands the story of Adam and Eve and Genesis [and its parallel Koranic version] on its head:

From every tree you may eat [but] from the tree [ of the knowledge of Good and Evil, that Gd planted in a garden eastward of Eden, after dividing the light from the darkness] which is in the midst of paradise do not eat, for on the day that you eat you will surely die‘.

But the serpent was wise… and persuaded Zoe [Life’], the daughter of Sophia [‘Wisdom’], also called Eve: ‘On the day that you eat from that tree, the eyes of your mind will be opened‘.

Eve ate and shared it with her husband. Their eyes were opened and the Jealous God said: ‘Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing evil and good…let us cast him out of paradise, lest he take from the tree of life and live forever


[As for the limerick, I’m pretty sure I got that from one of Alan Watts’ passionate little paperbacks. In Sausalito. A long time ago.]