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  • Writer's pictureCrone

About knowledge

I’ve been thinking about knowledge, research, gathering information.

Take our investigations into birds. How do they navigate? Why do they sing? How do they know when to nest? etc. We do all this research, with ringing, watching, slicing up brains, setting up experiments. Then we say we have knowledge about birds.

It's like the older style anthropologists looking at tribes. They have taboos not because a god told them not to eat the whatever plant but because in the past something was poisonous, you know the sort of thing. We know better than the people we investigate, this is the unspoken claim. Our story is THE story.

But actually, we have collected and reformulated information and packaged it according to our view of what the world is like (from our standpoint, culture, sensorium, perspective). Then we say, THIS IS KNOWLEDGE. This is what knowledge looks like. This is how you get it.

What's more, we OWN this knowledge. It is ours (scientific, reductive, individualistic), to be defended against their perspective (spiritual? holistic? connected?). It is BETTER, MORE TRUE, aligned with reality. But even worse, it is OWNED, we have it in our control.

This is how knowledge is power. And it's not nice. It’s epistemic colonialism.

It's not just that it allows us to manipulate, control, overpower, defeat, kill, farm and so on. It allows us to believe that we are the only ones who can define and divine and determine what matters, what should be done, what is right.

This isn’t an especially clever idea, but it just struck me that it is usually unacknowledged. And how horrible it is.

Maybe I don't want to know any more. Maybe I don't want to pry any more. Maybe I don't want to grasp and contain and define and own.

Maybe I want instead to be in relationship with.

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