How is it that ideas – these little beings from the realm of thought – ever make their way into the world and into our heads? Is it that we find them evidenced around us and, seeing them there, create them within the confines of our mind? Or that we’re told what to think then see life through the lens of received thoughts? Perhaps some blend between the two.
Does it matter? Surely a large part of being human is that we perceive the world with our minds, form thoughts about it, and let them shape how we’re living (Notes One). The way we’re able to discern patterns, find meaning, hold onto ideas and have them inform our choices seems pretty unique. That we communicate our ideas and coordinate ourselves around them seems the whole premise of society.
Understanding the world – forming a thorough and comprehensive sense of what’s contained here – has been the driving force behind much of human activity, particularly in the centuries leading into the present day. This idea of discovering, cataloguing, delving into and systematising all that can be known of “reality” having been the quest that’s pushed civilisation forward to the point we now find ourselves.
All we now know is incredible, really. The human mind has wrapped itself around the globe, digging down and peering up to uncover all there is to be found, examined, picked apart, labelled, and assigned its place within the library of human knowledge. Knowledge now essentially placed at everyone’s fingertips through the instrument of technology (Notes Two).
Everything’s there: the entire wealth of human insight. Discoveries many people dedicated their lives to, if not gave those lives for. Individuals grappled, persisted, persevered, and sometimes risked everything in pursuit of new or deeper understanding. There was perhaps this sense that to be human was to overcome the world with our mind, conquering all there is to be grasped and offering it up for the wider community.
How humans applied themselves in moving beyond their limitations to travel, uncover and understand is a fascinating picture of our collective history. Almost everything must now have its label? It all sits within a body of thought; in the place it’s been assigned. Our words, thoughts and ideas have brought so much to light and into relationship – thinking perhaps echoing reality with all its connections (Notes Three).
To be the humans on the receiving end of such an inheritance is a daunting task. We didn’t earn this. We’re just the latest in a long line of people born into the realities of their time, place and culture. We’ve simply been handed this vast set of ideas, beliefs, theories and the social realities that come along with them. “This” is what those before devoted themselves to: the fruits of their finest endeavours.
What are we to make of being some of the most well-informed humans ever to have existed? How well-prepared are we to handle the immense responsibility of all the power that knowledge imparts to us?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Ways thought adds spin to life
Note 1: Caught in these thoughts
Note 1: Knowledge, capacity & understanding
Note 1: Ideas that tie things together
Note 2: All that’s going on around us
Note 2: Information as a thing, endlessly growing
Note 2: Social starting points for modern ways
Note 2: The difference humanity makes
Note 3: Detaching from the world around us
Note 3: Thoughts of idealism and intolerance
Note 3: The value of a questioning attitude?
Ideas around where we now stand and why it’s not easy were also the subject of Life’s never been simpler…