It has always been important to be able to accurately discern which claims are true and which are false. We humans need knowledge of reality in order to know how to act, so we can lead successful lives. This means we need to have a means of validating the ideas we hold to be true. We need to be able to check the information we hear and verify that it is true before we act on it – otherwise we inevitably suffer. Epistemology is the science of ‘knowledge’ and how we know things. With a correct epistemology you can reach for the stars. With a faulty one, all that results is confusion, anxiety and suffering.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge. Epistemology asks the questions; What is knowledge? How does man validate his conclusions? What are the proper methods of thinking? The correct answers to these questions inform the method that the truth seeker must adopt if he is to achieve certainty as a result of his investigations.
The base of philosophy can be summed up by three questions; What exists? How do I know? and, So what? Metaphysics is the study of reality and asks, ‘What exists?’ Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and asks the question ‘How do I know?’. And Ethics is the study of how should man act, and address the question, So What?
Metaphysics is the first question in philosophy because it affects all the other areas including politics and aesthetics. You cannot ask how you know something until you have addressed the question of the nature of reality. The answer to this question determines the epistemology that logically follows. The conclusions formed after asking this most fundamental question determine even if knowledge can be acquired at all!
In Podcast 162, Dr Andrew Kaufman joins me to discuss epistemology. Specifically, the consequences of the basic metaphysical question – is reality an objective absolute, independent of any consciousness, or is it a projection or creation of consciousness? These two positions on the issue exhaust the logical possibilities. The first may be called the Primacy of Existence, the second, the Primacy of Consciousness.
This first question of metaphysics is of paramount importance, because one answer (the Primacy of Existence) leads to truth, knowledge, successful action, life. The other one (the Primacy of Consciousness) leads to confusion, conflict, destruction and suffering! Of course, a suitable time lag disguises the issue sufficiently for most men not to be able to see the problem.
Unfortunately Dr Kaufman fails to recognise this crucial distinction. In stead of engaging in a crucial intellectual issue, he remained defensive and concerned that I was trying to get him to be an atheist. And the whole point is that one cannot be a truth seeker and believe in a supernatural deity at the same time. It is a contradiction. How can you demand proof of the existence of a virus and not for the existence of God?
Dr Kaufman declined to post this interview on his own social media channels. I am left wondering why anyone would find it offensive to be concerned that truth seekers be consistent. But perhaps more importantly, the concept of rights is central to the goal of freedom, but must be argued for on a rational basis, and they can be. Anyone setting themselves up as a leader of a freedom movement, which Dr Kaufman very obviously is, will not succeed if they argue that rights are a gift from God. In other words, if they use the wrong epistemology, one of faith and feelings, they have no rational argument for freedom.
Dr Andrew Kaufman’s website is www.andrewkaufmanmd.com
Dr Kaufman’s True Medicine Library can be found here www.truemedicinelibrary.com