Oh, the ignorance of these learned people!

Oh, the ignorance of these learned people! - by P.K.Odendaal - June 2013

 In my previous blog I have spoken of the strange and unknown activity called THINKING, and I quoted George Bernard Shaw who once said: 'Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week'.
My experience is that the more you know, the less you think, and that learned people have stopped thinking. One would have thought that it worked the other way round, but now that I THINK about it, I find it to be so. The reason is that people, who get very skilled in anything, later do things mechanically, and that must then also be true for people skilled in letters and science.

One of my biggest obstacles at university was the way in which I was taught, which assumed that I already knew something, or quite a lot. I would have presumed that if someone teaches me his craft or science, he would start from the beginning, but they never did. They always started out somewhere in centre court and ended up in the side lines, whilst I was still in the change room, thinking of what I was going to wear for the game or lecture.
But come to think of it, I now realise why they purposefully never started at the beginning, but always midway. They did not know what the beginning, and for that matter, the end, was. Especially in science, it is prudent to start from first principles, and I do not mean like in the basics of light or the basics of gravity; but rather in the basics of what science is, what and who I am, why we have a number system, and on which false premises it was based, and how I fit into such a system. And of course they could never do so, because they did not know the answers to that.
I personally believe that if you cannot address a subject in its most simple form, you should ask your tuition fees back - and these people who do not know the beginning or end of anything, do not care about it, and get quite angry when you tell them that their knowledge is based on straw and stones - as in fact it is - it has no proper foundation.
It reminds me of a joke an Austrian friend once told me. He said that Europe wanted to build a rocket to launch to the moon. The Germans got to build the front section, the French the back section, and the Austrians the middle section. He then asked me why it was allocated like that. Quite easily, he said, because the Austrians do not know the beginning or end of anything.

 Note added on 4 July 2013

I tried to illustrate that our super confident learned people know it all, whilst they do not even know the beginning or end of anything

Although I am quite cautious not to mix spiritual things into rational and intellectual articles, because religion and spirituality are neither rational not intellectual - it depends on faith - exactly the same faith I had to use in math class to believe those axioms which could not be proved - which were neither rational nor intellectual

I have thus missed the opportunity to tell you the whole story which is embedded in scripture in a very clear way.

If we do not know the beginning and end of anything, and God says He is the Alpha and Omega - the beginning and end - why do we not believe Him. He is not only the Beginning and End - he also made the Beginning and He will also make the End. Many of us seems to be unable or disinclined to participate in the beginning or end whilst we will happily enjoy the middle. It is like starting to look at a film or movie a quarter way through and leaving long before the end. That way we will never be able to fathom the fullness andintricacies of the plot. I wish to experience this universe from the beginning to end so that I can understand the whole 'plot' - so to speak.
If you are new to my articles, you might find me super critical of knowledge and especially science, and you would wonder why I despise my scientific and technological career and background. It is exactly because I know these subjects so well. The fact is that I am very glad and grateful that I had this learning, but it prepared me for a life of thinking and not a life of doing mechanically and believing in everything they say. As an example: When we start to learn about numbers and tables and adding, multiplication and so on, no teacher tells us what numbers are; that they are all fictional inventions! That subject or beginning of it is far too complicated to think about and even harder to explain. I remember our match teacher starting by telling is that we start at axioms which we just have to believe, as they cannot be proven. I almost walked out of the class after hearing that shocking revelation.
We all, including myself, make some very obvious errors because we do not think, even about the most basic things. I have heard of many people who look everywhere for their spectacles, whilst they already have it on. If we would only take the time to THINK, we would not land in all those embarrassing situations.
But how and what can we think? I would presume it is a subject on its own, the beginning or end of which no one knows or understands. I would venture to say that we can only think about what we know, and that knowledge is thus an instrument to increase our thinking capacity and not limit it or to make it mechanical. If you tell me that that is what learning is all about, then I will agree with you. However, we have seen, in our series on philosophy, that knowledge makes us less fit for a normal life than ignorance. And apart from that, it makes us arrogant and haughty with a false pride - making us THINK more of ourselves than we ought to. That is not the type of thinking it was supposed to engender in us.
However, Shakespeare has thought of this many centuries ago and written an excellent play on it called: 'Love's Labour's Lost'. It is the story of four young gentlemen - the King of Navarre and three of his friends, who took an oath not to indulge in worldly things, but only in studies. The dialogue, where they take the oath, is one of the most simple and excellent exposés on the subject. I repeat it here: (abridged) 

King:            Our court shall be a little academe,
      Still and contemplative in living art.
      You three, Biron, Dumain and Longaville,
      Have sworn for three years' term to live with me
      My fellow scholars, and to keep those statutes
      That are recorded in this schedule here:
Your oaths are passed; and now subscribe your names,
That his own hand may strike his honour down
That violates the smallest branch herein:
If you are arm'd to do as sworn to do,
Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too. 

Longaville:    I am resolved; 'tis but a three years' fast:
The mind shall banquet, though the body pine
Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits
Make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits. 

Biron:           I can but say their protestations over;
So much, dear liege, I have already sworn,
That is, to live and study here three years.
But there are other strict observances;
As, not to see a woman in that term,
Which I hope is not enrolled there;
And one day in a week to touch no food
And but one meal on every day beside,
That which I hope is not enrolled there;
And then, to sleep but three hours in the night,
And not be seen to wink of all the day -
When I was wont to think no harm all night
And make a dark night too of half the day -
Which I hope is not enrolled there;
O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,
Not to see ladies, study, not sleep! 

King:            Your oath is pass'd, to pass away from these. 

Biron:           Let me say no, my liege, an' if you please:
I only swore to study with your grace
And stay here in your court for three years' space. 

Longaville:    You swore to that Biron, and to the rest. 

Biron:           By yea an' nay, sir, I swore in jest.
What is the end of study? Let me know? 

King:            Why, that to know, which else we should not know. 

Biron:           Things hid and barr'd, you mean, from common sense? 

King:            Ay, that is study's godlike recompense. 

Biron:           Come on, then; I will swear to study so,
To know the thing I am forbid to know:
As thus, - to study where I well may dine,
When I to feast expressly am forbid;
Or study where to meet some mistress fine,
When mistresses from common sense are hid;
Or, having sworn too hard a keeping oath,
Study to break it and not break my troth.
If study's gain be thus and this be so,
Study knows that which yet it doth not know:
Swear me to this, and I will never say no. 

King:            These be the stops that hinder study quite
And train our intellects to vain delight. 

Biron:           Why, all delights are vain, but that most vain,
Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain:
As, painfully to pore upon a book
To seek the light of truth; while truth the while
Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look:
Light seeking light doth light of light beguile;
So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,
Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.
Study me how to please the eye indeed
By fixing it upon a fairer eye,
Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed
And give him light that it was blinded by.
Study is like the heaven's glorious sun
That will not be deep-search'd with saucy looks;
Small have continual plodders ever won
Save base authority from others' books
These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights
That give a name to every fixed star
Have no more profit of their shining nights
Than those that walk and wot not what they are.
Too much to know is to know but fame;
And every godfather can give a name.