A Word of Caution Re: Epistemology or What Color are Swans?

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Manu Sharma

Mar 6, 2020, 2:26:25 PM3/6/20
to Green-India
If I ask five people whether swans are found in any colour other than white, I could get answers such as:

A. "No." (ignorant)
B. "That's ridiculous, everyone knows swans are always white." (arrogant)
C. "My textbook says swans are white so it must be true." (dogmatic)
D. "I think there are only white swans but I don't know for sure." (honest)


E. "Swans are always white in the northern hemisphere but black and mixed coloured swans can be found in Australia." (correct)

I cite this example to drive home a point about epistemology, the branch in philosophy, that deals with the question: "How do we know what we know?" The point is that we are a product of our culture. Public worldview in any given age is defined by the dominant narrative of the culture. The stories it tells itself. Particularly, its role models, the authority figures. A great deal of authority today is held by science.

Until sometime in the 19th century biologists around the world believed that swans were always white. Then someone discovered black swans and the knowledge was revised.

What if, the dominant narrative of our contemporary culture is also somewhat misplaced? What if, there are greater and deeper truths that reside outside of this narrative? How would you deal with such knowledge if you came across it?

Would you deal with it with ignorance, arrogance, or dogma, the A.B.C answers? Or would you face it with D. honesty? It might make you slightly uncomfortable but you would be closer to E. the correct answer.

In October 2018 I revised the name and direction of this group to include ideas related to evolution of human consciousness. These ideas are not part of the dominant narrative even though they are getting popular. 

Over the coming weeks and months I'm going to get deeper into these ideas. I guarantee you, if you are part of the mainstream, they will make you uncomfortable. But if you remain open minded and try to understand them, you will feel greatly empowered.

I urge you not to take my word for it. Examine these ideas yourself. Always remain skeptical but never dismissive. Until you find your own truth. In case, you wish to exit the group at any time, you have free choice, please write to me off the list and I will remove you.

BTW, The Black Swan is a brilliant book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A New York Times bestseller, it argues that the course of humanity's future has always been determined by large black swan events such as 9/11. These are large unpredictable events that are outside the realm of conventional narrative in history, science, technology and finance.

In other words, you can never base your expectation of the future on your experience of the past. This is something I will be arguing in my posts as well, which is why I have a special place for this book in my heart. It's thick and slightly dense (I haven't read it fully) but the arguments are brilliant and spot on. I highly recommend: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.


subbu prashant

Mar 6, 2020, 10:52:12 PM3/6/20
to green...@googlegroups.com
Hi Manu 

Wonderful to read such insights. However my question is what is true to you is untrue for me and vice versa. In such conditions of duality how do we say that this the correct answer. Does knowledge building exercise essentially a mere perception and extension of our true self.



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Manu Sharma

Mar 7, 2020, 1:02:04 AM3/7/20
to Green-India
subbu prashant <prasha...@gmail.com> wrote:
my question is what is true to you is untrue for me and vice versa. In such conditions of duality how do we say that this the correct answer.

Hi Subbu,

Excellent question. My answer is, each person's truth is appropriate for him or her at any given time. Although in the simple example of swans, I labelled one choice as correct but in fact each choice is appropriate for the person who believes that way. We all have our own journeys and our own reasons for being the way we are.

Our culture tells us that truth is singular. I used to believe so too and members of this list have witnessed my somewhat arrogant and dogmatic approach sometimes to issues in the past wherein I professed that I alone knew the real truth about a particular technology or policy approach. I believed in rights and wrongs.

I now understand that truths come in many versions. This doesn't mean that my past approach was a "mistake." It was appropriate for who I was at that time but now I have moved on to another version of truth. So you can say that there are lower truths and higher truths.

Some time later I will discuss profound truths that exist as paradoxes in which two opposite versions are simultaneously and equally true but for now I don't want to complicate things and this much is sufficient. Whatever truth you hold at the moment is appropriate for you in that moment. You will always move towards the truth that you have asked for in life.

You might have joined this group because you were asking for progress in your career or in your understanding. Another member may have joined to promote his or her interests. Two very different motivations. The two of you may not hold a common truth because your asking is different.

I'm having this interaction with you because sometime back I have been asking the universe for ways to take to others what I have learned about metaphysics. I would like to make a formal course out of the 50-60 books I have read over the past few years that have completely altered my perception of reality. I have already made a structure and will post in that order.

So thank you for asking and for being open. I encourage others to ask as well. 


Manu Sharma

Mar 7, 2020, 2:27:37 AM3/7/20
to Green-India
I'll add some more thoughts. I think you're asking how does one evaluate the alternate narrative I'm putting forth about science and specific inventions. I'll say that go with what resonates with you. Try to evaluate it simply on the basis of what is presented while setting aside pre-conceived ideas.

Does it make sense that science could be incomplete? That explanations other than the dominant theories could be true? Does it make sense if there are hundreds of examples of overunity devices through recent history, there might be something there or can it be that each one is a hoax?

Our culture tells us to jump to conclusions. To take sides. That something is either right or wrong. I say to you, don't be hasty. I quote below from a favourite book:

"Nothing must be seized and held. Do not make knowledge of my words. Let the ideas be vague and shifting, sifting and sorting their own energy, presenting, with the perfect timing of acceptance, a higher truth"

You already know the higher truth deep inside.

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