While education is the process of arriving at knowledge, it is more of a skill than a single process. We’re born into this world as a blank slate, completely void of knowledge and good sense. As we mature, we learn to differentiate the sensations around us. Nature provides each person with a set of genes that aid this pursuit.
The word ‘educate’ brings a surge of feelings, liberating and stifling. The world of education is one filled with struggle and pains that yield great joys. It is little different than being a farmer that has to manually toil his plot of land into something fruitful. Our minds are gifts, and through imagination we learn to create worlds that we can manipulate and use as we see fit.
For the majority of people, education and maturation are two worlds that go hand and hand. You cannot have one without the other. Education can be a conscious or unconscious endeavor. Whether we are conscious of these thoughts or not, every moment we are programming ourselves to certain thoughts and behaviors. Maturity is gained when these thoughts are diversified or thoroughly explored. More valuable than the ideas gleaned is the process in which ideas are acquired. Acquiring ideas involves a focused imagination coupled with an emotional investment akin to a passion that provides the thrust necessary to move forward to form connections.
Descartes marked the beginning of modern philosophy and a shift from classical philosophy. Believing the world begins within oneself, he moved away from the Aristotelian philosophy that thoughts and ‘being’ arose from sensations. He did not subscribe the idea that sensations revealed the true nature of substances. To avoid these biases, he put little faith in his past experiences. He rejected the world as it had been fed to him and relied solely on his reason. “Whatever I have up till now accepted as most true I have acquired either from the senses or through the senses” (7:18)
Descartes’ reliance on a divine cogito was a refreshing starting point for philosophers. As a child, I was inquisitive. My father fueled this inquisitive nature by asking questions in return to questions and never allowed me to settle on the initial answer. My development, however, was dictated my parent’s belief in god. Although I was undoubtedly shaped by peer influences and the culture, my parents would ultimately verify my knowledge and test it through biblical references. I grew up with this mentality that truth must be constantly sought out, to take nothing at first glance, to test and refine, yet the bible and god were definitive. As I grew old, unavoidable inconsistencies arose that were crucial to developing additional understanding. I stood by the belief system I was raised with, out of immaturity and naivety, but ventured outside and tested the limits. I believed that for every action there was a reaction. I did my best, even from the youngest age, to assume the reaction those around me expected instead of standing by my inclinations or my parental influences. It turned out that this shaped my perspective quite a bit. I realized that truth, or the understanding of it anyway, was a matter of perspective that retained plasticity. This allowed me to be much more empathetic to those around me, despite the rifts in our conflicting belief systems.
Because I never shut myself off from this influential perspective, I was never truly convinced in their power, the power of god and the supernatural and that specific way of life. I want to note that the bible and god are easy to believe in, especially when people sharing these belief systems with you have your best interest in mind, and especially when the majority of the values are universal and plainly work in the world. The legitimacy of their utility is avoidably clear; so as to appear that there is something to their claims.
As I got older however, I carried an immense guilt. I was not totally sold, inside and out, on the powers of god, mostly because I couldn’t see his power in the world around me. I could see what others thought, and their beliefs, and saw that the lives of these two people, theist and non theist, differed very little. I eventually came to grips with the fact that I was not fit for god’s kingdom, or broke, and gave up on seeking gods will.
After high school I reached a state of complete apathy. God gave up on me and I had no choice but to give up on myself. This state of being eroded my self confidence and changed my priorities to ephemeral fancies and short lived day to day gratifications.
After a dark period, which seemed like days but past on for several months, I began to accept some responsibility for my life. Not that my faith didn’t work, not that god had other plans, but that the power that I relied so heavily on was no outside of me, but within me. I began to have an intense breakthrough of personal development. I began setting goals relative to my strengths and desires, my wants and needs. I realized the powers of thoughts, and actions and their role in contributing to a set of behaviors and habits that led to a healthy character and life. I took charge and utilized this potential.
All the while however, I recognized and attributed that potential was a gift from god and god alone, and that I must put some trust in after all. This was an effective mode of operation until I realized that the belief in god is totally baseless. I noticed that theist and atheist alike retained potential, and that there is no indication that a supernatural being bestowed more potential in one person or another. The conception of god slowly transformed into a machination of the mind. Now, there may be a power that governs the universe, but to say that he is alive and active and maintains a personal relationship of open communication is false on any quantifiable account. Learning a great deal about cognitive psychology in college, I discovered that our mind is an untrustworthy thing to trust blindly in. “Know thyself”, said Thales. Know weaknesses, fallacies, strengths, and use reason and consult wisdom.
As I recognized this I realized that my belief system was founded in the sky and lacked any grounded foundations. There was a connection missing. Truth and understanding were my greatest aspirations, and I could not afford to overlook fallacies throughout life, however effective the current methods appeared.
While my belief system yielded the results I desired, I was lacking a philosophy that was receptive to competing philosophies. I had to reject any philosophy that undermined my philosophy in any way. This meant disregarding their perceptions and experiences, claiming that they were false and mine were right. This was the only was to preserve my belief system. However, this close mindedness made me doubt my own philosophy. Are my experiences, my reason and rational, any more legitimate than the man next to me? Is my destination any more guaranteed or favorable than mine? It is a simple choice of destination. A choice I had no will over if I subscribed to an absolutist mentality.
How could I have a philosophy that was open an accepting of others, yet focused on an origin of absolute truth that the majority of people faced? I could not reconcile the fact that one person’s belief system was any more founded than another’s. When I rejected the notion of god, and gave up pursuing an invisible will, I was faced with a reality that lacked order, rules and, most of all, meaning. When this world is created by a supreme divine being, it maintained intrinsic values and worth and purpose. A god not only offered a hope for order and answers amongst a world, it provided a context to frame my actions. When I rejected the notion of this god I was left alone. The principles that I accredited to this higher power now lost their footing and legitimacy. My goals were intimately tied to a foundation where decisions mattered. Ultimately your actions were weighed by this supreme God and there was favor for and against them that would become evident in your life through fortune or misfortune. Soon life became a giant game where your beliefs offer a confirmation bias for every action and thought. You create value before value is found by believing that value exists.
I was now alone, without direction, alienated from all past thoughts and directionless with no foundation. I was not passionately tied down to the ramifications of belief and disbelief. I was free. This freedom, where actions have no context other than the context you give them, became a paralyzing force. Principles no longer seemed to fit nicely into a schema or order. It wasn’t that my thoughts were upset, it was the values that I coined to each thought degraded. These values changed from a static to relative state. My ends, chief wants and desires, seemed to lose value. Virtues seemed to be useless because without ends, what matters of virtue? Ends, being relative, opened me up to a million different paths.
It is a terrifying thought to be blinded by biases. An act or subscription to a set of beliefs meant that attention must be diverted from another perspective. This is debilitating when one values contrasting experiences. Experience molds and shapes the shapeless. It creates ideas out of nothing, where no prior thoughts existed before. I still have values, however. I still retain a clear sense of right and wrong, however blurred the line. I have noticed that my ego have been prevailing much more than when I retained a selfless servant, or slave, mentality of Christendom. I believe this mentality can exist without the pretext of an absolute origin.
Education is a release of anxieties and jumping into an unknown. Fears keep
us from forming new ideas and opinions by countering our faith. I do not believe that religion is inherently bad, only that it refuses contrary perspectives. Fear stems from keeping a close guard on experiences, which force one to forfeit and limit understanding.
My crisis. Nothing ultimately matters. What I think is, is. This world is created and destroyed by my will. What matters of the best life, when all I simply have to do is deem it best. What is best, and for whom? And within what society? And why this society? And why subscribe to those values? Should I play the game?
The crisis sucked the reason and sense and zest out of life. I became a man on a road to no where all by myself. I saw that at the end of the day, my belief in reality was the only thing legitimizing it and validating it.
Maturation. Education. Can you be myopic and be educated? Can you be mislead and educated?