The Importance of Sensemaking

 In Building Knowledge

The attainment of higher levels of enlightenment is inherently tied to the development of knowledge.  While nearly everyone seems to agree that knowledge is important, there are many different perspectives on what knowledge is, how it can be formed, and whether we can ever know anything with certainty.  We can say that knowledge comes from observation, education, understanding, awareness, and reason, but it is worth studying in more detail how knowledge is formed and structured in the mind and how our worldviews are constructed.  We live in a world there are plenty of opportunities to develop knowledge through education and critical thinking, but there is also plenty of disinformation that is constantly being propagated and peddled to us and if we are not careful then we could potentially fall into such traps.  If we want to develop a broad and deep understanding of reality then it is necessary to understand the processes through which the most accurate information can be gathered, assessed, and organized.  If we are not cognizant aware of the ways in which genuine knowledge can be formed, then we are more likely to fall victim to irrational and self-defeating thoughts and beliefs.

The most common causes of unnecessary conflicts in the world are broad ignorance and belief in outright falsities, which includes lies, disproven theories, and fundamental misunderstandings about reality.  And so to counter this, we need to understand what constitutes evidence, what are valid forms of evidence, how reason works, and how science is practiced.  We need to consider questions such as: Is there anything that can be considered the foundation of all knowledge?  Is utter certainty possible or is everything we think we know open to doubt?  How can one evaluate claims made by others and figure out which of them are true or false?  Is it possible to gain knowledge of the laws of nature?

All of these questions are central to sensemaking, which is the process through which we attempt to make sense of the world.  We are constantly bombarded by information, but to use a term from communications engineering, only some of what we observe is signal (accurate information) and much of it is noise (misleading information).  We want to develop an accurate conception of reality, but it is difficult to make sense of all of this.  How do we differentiate the signal from the noise?  This question is a major focus of the forthcoming book Seeking a More Enlightened Worldview and it is also a major focus of the forthcoming Enlightened Worldview podcast series.

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