(Image credit to thebacajourney.com)
Old English cnawan (class VII strong verb; past tense cneow, past participle cnawen), “perceive a thing to be identical with another,” also “be able to distinguish” generally (tocnawan); “perceive or understand as a fact or truth” (opposed to believe); “know how (to do something),” from Proto-Germanic *knew- (source also of Old High German bi-chnaan, ir-chnaan “to know”), from PIE root *gno- “to know.” (from the Online Etymology Dictionary)
Whew! Such a small word and such big implications for humans. From the time the first apes looked about with more than survival instinct and thought about what they saw and touched and felt, knowing has been part of the human experience. But what is knowing, really?
There are vast numbers of quotes and quips out there about knowing and knowledge.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do johann wolfgang von goethe
Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
Ad infinitum. Lots of quotes. Not enough about what knowing is or can be for someone.
I ‘know’ my name, or rather, I can recite it in several ways so that someone else ‘knows’ it for data purposes. I ‘know’ various versions of my name and use it with friends and family and chosen family. It helps them identify me and it helps me identify myself when being spoken to or texted or phoned.
And yet, I know that this is just one sense of self. A name is a label, a tool. It is not a knowing that runs deep and scours the brain.
Knowing is a deep process, and it runs clear into what it means to be human. The first apes to look about with more than a need for self preservation had inklings of knowing. We, their long-long-descendants, are still wrestling with this concept.
Humans think they know lots of things. The world is flat, the world is round. God came to earth in the form of a man, God is out there. There is no God. Humankind is on the brink of something wonderful. Humankind is about to go off the deep end.
Humankind is seeking. Humankind wants to ‘know’, not just perceive and understand nuggets of things. To this end we have created technologies, we have learned to communicate, we have sought answers from gurus and martyrs and prophets and kings and queens. We have rejected these answers and found new ones, or sought new ones and found that we don’t know enough to ask the proper questions.
There’s something so human about asking what one knows and how one knows it. I think I will relish these thoughts for some more time today, with some tea and cookies.