Why You Don’t Know Anything in School

While in school an individual is supposed to end up “knowing” things that they have “learned.” The problem is that “learning” anymore means getting told what you have read as a student, getting ideas explained to you and then you get tested on your memory of what you were told.

Sure, sometimes, I repeat, sometimes, a student is asked to apply this material of theirs in a test or activity, but stop and think about it for a moment.  In any of these “applications” has there ever been something fundamentally new involved in the application situation?  Has there actually been a need to take that knowledge, reinterpret it and reforge it to be useful in a place that was not already covered in the class you were told this information before?  I know that for me this sort of application is incredibly rare and has maybe happened in three classes.  Instead your “application” of your “knowledge” is just putting the knowledge into a situation nearly identical to the way in which it was used when you were told.

In my opinion, that is not knowing anything.  Knowing something requires that a person is able to take the very fundamental ideas of something freely, bend it, forge it and tweak it where it you can possibly find that knowledge useful.  Knowledge of something could be considered like a set of lenses, each thing you know adds a different “lens” to anything you end up dealing with in your life.  You can then take these lenses off or combine in them in unique ways to look at one particular object, situation or whatever it is you happen to be examining.  Basically you must be able to use something, to be able to build/create new concepts/ideas/things/etc. in order to know a thing.

This isn’t a simple task, nor is it possible in a lecture.  In order to truly know something one must figure it out alone. Yes being in groups can be useful in some ways and help you, but a group is never going to help an individual know something, knowing requires a certain twisting of the mind that will never be accomplished by a group, but you can sleep on it.  Then after having come to understand something that same person must be able to use it to claim their knowledge.  The only way to really use something is through that understanding that you gain. Thus, getting lectured at about things you’re supposed to know is useless.

Having your hand held through a thought process, text, project, paper, whatever does not help you know anything besides how to parrot. The point of any class should be to make you focus on certain things which nearly everyone should have access to in order to build their own thoughts.  The second point of any class is to sharpen your skills, tell a student they are wrong and where, point out the failures making you defend your arguments and pushing you to continually push your creative abilities to build anew, reinterpret or simply throw out concepts/ideas/solutions/etc.  Essentially you should be pushed to through all of human thought and then to the very edge of human knowledge to add to it. Students have to begin with rational thought and build upon their own rational thoughts all the way through the entirety of civilization’s historic thought process thus helping the student understand themselves and the world in which they live.  Then adding to it.

A student should be asked if they can defend an argument well.  Other writings are only places for those students to gain new tools to help explain and defend their own thoughts, in order to defend one’s very own existence to themselves and others.

Some classes may do this, but not nearly enough in my opinion.

Interesting Issues In The U.S. and Western Thought

Laws apply universally and everyone has certain rights, so long as you’re one of us.     If you do not believe this refer back to the pages of history: all of the native peoples in North America when Europeans started to colonize, how Africans were treated (and still are sometimes depending on who you talk to and where you go), Ancient Greeks and the “barbarians,” Ancient Rome and any group of people who were not under their control…this list could continue indefinitely I am sure.

You learn how to do things simply by sitting and getting told them. (Every lecture class ever given)

They door is always open to you, once someone else opens the door first. (requiring “experience” for job openings and universities not wanting to accept students freshman year due to not knowing if they will stay in university)

We want highly motivated and specialized people, so long as they are highly motivated and specialized in everything. (Whenever submitting resumes the point seems to be to squeeze as much as you possibly can onto one page, so do everything and fill that page up!)

Only one argument is correct, even though there are always two.

We want to protect the environment, so long as we don’t have to change our ways or spend any money.  Or, I want to be healthy, without changing my lifestyle.

I expect the government and society to help me, but I’m not going to pay for it or do any of the work.

We support education, so long as you work whenever you aren’t in lessons.

Everything about Aristotle.

You have to work hard to achieve your dreams, but you also have to work even harder to keep yourself fed to achieve your dreams.

God doesn’t exists but the 10 Commandments still stand.

In order to prove what you know you have to do an experiment.

Everyone is upwardly mobile, so long as you can afford it.

In order to get into anything you have to apply, same with getting out of anything.

Working as a slave is legal still and the only way to end up getting paid eventually….hopefully.

We want free trade, so long as we aren’t undercut by people in other countries.

Some problems are huge and require inter-disciplinary knowledge, so pigeon-hole yourself into only a very specific subject in university.

Educational institutions only let you learn so much in a given period.

Testing one’s knowledge is testing what you can repeat from what you were told earlier in the year, not what you can solve.

The Philosophical Problems of Philosophy

There are admittedly many problems that can be found I am focusing on one at the moment that is particularly problematic for me.

The issue can be found most easily in epistemology and metaphysics, it is their useless-ness.

Philosophers who argue about different issues in these two branches of philosophy always end up arguing over unprovable issues, no matter how much these philosophes may want to think otherwise.  The main issues argued over in both of these branches are things that a) as humans we will never ever actually know anyway and b) arguments in these two branches are post-rationalizations and c) the simple absurdity of the language that has to be used to talk about these branches.

I am going to skip a due to lack of patience so onto b.

The arguments made in either one of these branches are post-rationalizations, by this I mean that the person arguing for this or that side of an debate has a specific view of the world which is incredibly deep in their mind and thoughts, to a point where they probably can never be properly exposed, as such the goal or view of the world is assumed and then a rationalization is made in the arguments to try to explain their world view.  So in the end, anything that comes out of these two branches have to be treated as geometric postulates, not actual theorems of the world.  One, in order to build a full philosophical outlook, simply has to assume one thing or the other, either points exist or they don’t and then that person has to build off of that.  Both can be supported and retorted but neither can be known for sure.

This type of issue though is also one of the best parts of philosophy.  These issues point out the pure limitations of human thought, abilities and nature.  There are limitations to the human mind which philosophy in it’s constant search for truth butts up against fairly quickly and those are important limitations to know and push as far as we possibly can as humans.

The other good thing of philosophy: the western world is basically built upon the science that philosophers started, there are many problems within this culture (which you can find easily and with the help of philosophy even!)

So next time you meet a philosopher, shake his hand in gratitude but slap him as hard as you can with your free hand. He should understand.