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General Epistemology        Chapter II-4       

 

II-4 GENERAL EPISTEMOLOGY©

 

(Permalink)(Was chapter 15 in version 1)

 

Why to change a scientific method which largely proved reliable? We shall simply address the error we mentioned: Whereas the traditional scientific epistemology (which field is restrained to the matter) is reduced to the only material proof and observation, the General Epistemology© that I propose, generalises the concept of proof and observation to other fields, in particular ethical and spiritual. We shall seek the proof in the field which we study. In physics, we seek a material proof. In mathematics, we seek a logical proof (This is the classical position of the mathematicians). In spirituality we shall seek a spiritual proof (In all this book, spiritual is to be understood in the meaning of: in the field of the human mind, simply, without inevitably religious or parapsychological references). In ethics we also seek a spiritual proof. In fields like medicine, psychology and parapsychology, we shall even have to be pluridisciplinary, and to check statements one by one, each in its field, material, spiritual... This will enable us to extend the concept of science, objectivity and exactitude to all the fields of the human experience. At least to a certain extent, as these fields are not always as accurately defined as in physics.

In peculiar things like feelings, mental images, a meaning of life, the value of the human existence, beauty, poetry, can no longer be regarded only as «subjective», arbitrary and worthless. These are now things that we can define, about which we can speak, on which we can make reasoning and exact statements, which we are complied to account with in the direction of our personal lives, and which it would be dangerous to «forget» in public fields like politics, society or economy. (I must however admit that an expression like «scientific poetry» will be nevertheless in the field of surrealism! But before laughing see chapter VI-9).

Notions like those used by New Age or oriental philosophies, such as «vibrations» and other «energies» can also find a definition and a meaning, which we shall see in chapter V-17.

Things like the soul, life after death, reincarnation, «God», etc... definitively cannot be apprehended by traditional epistemology, and inevitably require General Epistemology. Since the version 1 of this book, we could scientifically check the existence of parapsychology phenomena, such as OBE and NDE. This now allows us to scientifically envision such things like life after death, or an entity we could call «God». Our General Epistemology will certainly be very useful for this purpose, but the influence of mind over matter must, by definition, be materially observable. So we still need the traditional epistemology. It is anyways what was done for the demonstration of the existence of these parapsychology phenomena: by the classical observation of their material effects.

 

Some persons need to be aware that we shall not validate at a whole all the stories of the New Age, spiritism and astrology, all the contradictory dogmas of the religions and morals, plus the incredible bazaar of the cultural fields. And even less that we can give a statute of scientific knowledge to subjective or arbitrary considerations.

At first, traditional scientists will ask us what we exactly mean with an expression like «spiritual proof», therefore we have to first thoroughly question this. A true spiritual science, a scientific ethics, an explanation of the parapsychology phenomena, are not likely to resemble at those tall science-fiction stories, (nor to the New Age-fiction) but they can result only from the application of a rigorous method and a systematic tracking of any psychological bias (ideologies, attractions...)

Worse, this will be much less simple than for the physical science, because the spiritual evidences on which we shall base our studies are not objects which can be posed on a work surface and exhibit in front of an amphitheatre filled with students, nor at the TV. Such evidences are aspects of our mind, which we can observe and perceive only through the veil of our personal psychological bias. In other words our own mind will be our experimental object, but also and above all our unique instrument of observation. And when we see the complexity, the subtlety, the sophistication, the incredible precision of observation instruments in physics, the painstaking and the extreme competence which requires their handling, we can only be compelled to feel some modesty when we compare with our minds coarsely mired into psychological gangue and entangled into ideological prejudices, which we shall however need to subject to the same inescapable requirements. Yes absolutely, in the test tube the mind, under the microscope to see its most intimate gearing, in the acid to dissolve the prejudices, on the Bunsen burner to burn the psychological bias, connected to the high voltage of the exactness, pierced through by the neutrons of the questioning! Sure, we shall have fun...

The use of «objective» material proof (reproducible, collective...) in the traditional physical science allows to circumvent the effects of psychological bias, with a rather good effectiveness, since no error nor fraud could never settle durably in physics and in the observation of the material universe (note 13). But in the fields of the mind and consciousness we cannot elude the effects of the psychological bias, since it is attached to the observation instrument itself!

 

So the main difficulty of General Epistemology, compared to the classical one, is not really observing the spiritual facts, but the problem of the psychological bias. It will have to be really E-LI-MI-NA-TED! (Or at least to first compensate its effects, or to trust more advanced persons).

This is possible, since peoples already did, but it is obvious that this requires:

-A deliberated choice. Only people with such a choice can pretend to be in General Epistemology.

-A training of the mind, which needs a sustained effort during a number of years.

The first condition is preliminary, but both are essential. The result is obtained only gradually.

The methodologies of General Epistemology

(Permalink) Let us guess how this generalised epistemology may look like, in comparison with traditional methodology that we saw in chapter II-1.

 

-The concept of spiritual proof. (Or of any other immaterial field...) (Let us remind again that in all this book «spiritual» is for «field of the human mind» according to our daily experiment of this mind, without inevitably returning to religions or parapsychology, nor either a priori excluding these fields). A proof is an observable object, or the observable course of a phenomenon, which behaves as a theory predicts it. But now here it will be a matter of observing an object or a phenomenon in the domain of consciousness. The spiritual proof of a theory will be thus a consciousness experience. All the art will be about producing the relevant consciousness experience, and to draw the right conclusions. This will never be as complicated as an experiment in nuclear physics, although it will not be simplistic...

 

-The notion of observation is similarly transposed: as in physics, it is the consciousness which observes, but this time it does not observe external objects, but its own features, inner objects.

But there are differences between the physical field and the spiritual field. In physics, an experiment is an external thing, to which we attend; in spirituality an experiment is a situation in which our entire being is involved, a thing that we experience, that we feel. In physics we can be confident with some experiments in some laboratories. But we can observe a consciousness experience only into ourselves! This implies that, to be really convincing, a spiritual experiment must be repeatable by every one (The Buddha said «do not believe what I say, try and see by yourself if it is true»). On the other hand, everybody can make the consciousness experience, not depending on institutions or financial means.

Another difference is that we can (everyone of us personally) have success in this consciousness experience only if our personal psychological bias does not disturb it too much, nor does not it veil the result. This is why this bias cannot be eluded as in physics, but that it must be removed at least partly. The requirements to fulfil so that the experiment succeeds are, just like in physics, the experimental conditions which must be described in the experimental protocol, which describes the qualities that the experimenter must satisfy, as well as for an experiment in physics or chemistry. Instead of speaking about an experimenter who handles an experiment of physics, I propose here the term of experiencer, who observes the reactions of his own mind subjected to specified conditions.

The exact meaning of these requirements must be well understood, on the basis of examples: How an inappropriate emotion can hide or veil a result? Let us test the statement as what practising charity to others makes ourselves happy first. Try: let us make a gift to an humanitarian organisation. And let us observe the result when we get back a photo of a little black child staring shyly at us, our benefactor! These eyes win our conviction as strongly as the observation of an explosive chemical reaction! But if we suffer of a psychological bias such as lacking empathy or being racist? The experiment does not work! This is exactly as in an experiment of physics, a forger switches the power off, or hides the display. If we do this in physics, it is a fraud, which can lead us to jail. It is as much a fraud in the domain of consciousness. Just it is more difficult to avoid.

Another example on how a prejudice can make an experiment not to work, is the statement as what relaxing our mind tends to attenuate psychological tenses, stress and anguish. To check this assertion, we need to learn how to release our body, then our mind (training). We also need to be able to evaluate your stress or anguish with some objectivity (control of psychological bias). It is on the other hand not necessary to master levitation or to be a saint. Once these conditions fulfilled, then the result appears so simple and so obvious to the experiencer, that it wins an immediate and immovable conviction, exactly as a physical observation with our eyes wins conviction in a physics experiment. But, contrary to physics, an external «observer» of our mind experiment does not see anything and can only make analyses, statistics... He understands no more than a blind person trying to experience the beauty of a rainbow. Despites I previously had an allergy to religious matters, I one day decided to put this feeling besides, to try objectively the experience of relaxation, and do things as I was told to do. But if I had kept making «my opinion» of my previous feeling, I may have lain for hours on my relaxation pad, thinking that I was an idiot to do religious things: the experience would have quite simply not taken place! This experience, and some others, although devoid of any spectacular parapsychology effects, had sufficiently strong implications to change my life and to drive me towards the exploration of spirituality.

To clarify a bit some things, let us say:

-Psychopaths being unable to consider their own mind, are excluded at once of any spiritual research, together with ideologists, fundamentalists, fascists, etc. Them and their statements must be forbidden in mind science.

-The majority of neuropaths can understand the results, but they may have trouble to succeed into certain experiences. So they cannot be a reliable source of knowledge, and the resolution of at least some neurosis will be a mandatory preliminary to become a mind scientist.

-The minority of psychologically normal persons could still make a muddle of conceptual systems, as explained in chapter I-9.

 

-The reproducibility of experiments. A consciousness experience can be regarded as authentic only if it is actually reproduced by several experiencers, and especially I myself should accept it only if I am able to reproduce it myself, according to the specified experimental conditions. If not, it remains speculative. Non-testable otherwise than in experiencing it oneself. Contrarily to a physics experiment, which needs to be done only some times, by qualified physicists, a consciousness experience needs to be done by a much larger number of people, including specialists as well as ordinary people, in order to show their effectiveness. They also need to be tested in a large variety of fields and cultures.

We must be aware here that the reality of the mind is not always defined in an univocal way like the physical reality is, that it can be described with several different sets of concepts (chapter I-9).

Also, another person can induce biased consciousness experiences in us, through more or less unfair ways. (What of course still resort to the psychological bias, but this time of social origin). We have to be very cautious for example with hypnosis and other methods inducing false recollections, and to reject any experiment coming from cults (note 15 and note 48) or fanatic groups, not to read their texts, not even connect to their Internet sites filled with ideological viruses©. Erroneous beliefs shared by a great number of persons can induce inner experiences shared by these many persons, but which does not inevitably express realities (see for example the various interpretations of the light seen in the NDE (chapter V-9). That can thus become complicated, but that does not frighten us, because it is however simpler than a cyclotron.

An important case we shall see in chapter II-8, about the MANTRA study, is the notion of double-blind test extended to triple blind test, to avoid interferences of third parties not involved in the experiment.

 

-Collective testimony is not transposable just as it, in this fields where there are basically only inner experiences. But this is not very much a problem as these experiments can be reproduced by as many persons as needed, unlike costly experiments of physics or medicine. However we shall be able to use stricto sensu collective checks in group on social relation experiments, or in experiments which involve an immaterial communication between people (premonition, telepathy, out of the body experience...). Anyway these experiments are expected to have materially observable effects and thus resort at least partly of the classical epistemology, where we can use collective testimony without restriction.

 

-The recent concept of testability is transposable with some care. «God is fair-haired» is no more checkable with General Epistemology than with the old one, because nobody can obtain an image of God, an inevitably immaterial entity for Who such attributes do not make any sense. «The inhabitants of Pleiades are wise peoples» is still no more verifiable, but now «I received spiritual teachings from the Pleiades through telepathy» is checkable! Take a life insurance, swindlers and liars: If a person claims to be connected through telepathy to another planet, then other persons must also be able to do the same, just to see whether they really receive the same things. It is especially possible to test these spiritual teachings, to see where they lead us. If their effects occur only in the presence of one single person, if they can be interpreted only by this person, if they do not bring any relief nor real progress to her followers, then... Hey hey, we already have a technological spin off of the fundamental search in epistemology: a mean to smash the face of the cults (note 15 and note 48) and other pseudo-mystical lies on their own ground. And I will not deprive myself to use it. As far as I am concerned, it is certainly a revenge, but so useful to the others.

There seems to exist less means to test («refute») in the spiritual domain than in physics, but there are still enough, as they are centred on what is relevant. And everybody can have access to them. Contrarily to physics...

 

-The institutions and peers referee seem transposable, but they inevitably operate otherwise. The peers cannot be satisfied to check that the assertions of a researcher are not distorted by his psychological bias, they will have to take care that this researcher himself is liberated from this bias. This is possible, but much less simple. Indeed, we cannot commit in spiritual science half-heartedly, or only for a good career, as some physicists do in their field: It is our whole being which is involved, which will become the instrument of observation, and that we must purify consequently, if we want to observe something else than our phantasms. This inevitably will deeply transform our vision of the world, of life, our psychology, our character, our desires, our motivations, our relations with others, with money... We shall become another person, with another personality, other ideas, other feelings, and the more we shall engage, the more we shall be different, and the more our desire for change will increase. Be reassured: these changes will be beneficial, for us and the others, even when not in an apparent way. It is a path of healing, growth, evolution, which will be beneficial for everybody, and for us in first. However we cannot force a person to enter into such a process: we have not the right, and we have not the tools to do so. For this reason, only whose who did this choice can engage into the studies, that they shall follow in parallel with the transformation process. Only when the two are complete, these persons can do teaching or research.

Eh, it is no more complicated than with physics, which also requires some transformation of the mind to be understood.

So the peers referee, in place of being educated persons who control reasoning and methods, it will be already transformed persons, already liberated from the psychological bias, who will be the only able to control if you are too. Such a thing already exists into spiritual traditions. For instance, Tibetan Lamas have such a system of peers recognition. The psychoanalysts also discovered this epistemological point, and it is requested to already have carried out one's own analysis prior to practise this occupation. Ah if the judges, journalists, economists and politicians were doing the same!

-The type of logic used. In physics and in mathematics, the Aristotelian logic is used alone, to such an extend that this logic and the classical epistemology are often confused and glued together under the banner of a «rational though» which excludes all the other kinds of thinking. However the domains of the consciousness (ethics, economy, politics, psychology, spirituality) are often non-Aristotelian, and even non-conceptual (see Chapter I-9). So, very obviously, a genuinely rational (reasoning) approach is here to first acquire this kind of non-conceptual intelligence. It is for this very reason that I wrote a part on logics first in this book, before this part on epistemology.

A genuinely irrational approach would be to oppose the classical «rational though» to the non-conceptual though.

A real difficulty is that the human languages hardly allow for a non-conceptual expression. Thus to receive a teaching in this domain is a matter of training and long meditation. But I think it is far less difficult that higher mathematics, children should begin to learn this at school.

General Epistemology scope and applications

(Permalink) We can already have an idea of what a spiritual epistemology will make possible or not. It is not very likely that we can give a quick answer to a naive question such as «Does God exist?». The answer may doubtless be transcendent and exprimable according to several though systems, as we saw in chapter I-9, and the one that I propose in chapter V-6 may look difficult to understand, in spite of its elegant simplicity. On the other hand we can expect that the epistemology, generalised to the spiritual field, makes possible to explore the human mind (fifth part), to build a rational, human-friendy and non-arbitrary ethics (chapter VI-2). It can allow to gain control over this psychological bias which blocks us the access to knowledge, and which especially costs us so much and so much daily sufferings. It may allow us to find a meaning to our life, a feat that physical science is naturally unable to achieve, but which may prove within range, maybe even before the end of this book (chapter V-5). We thus shall study various attempts to use this spiritual science in all the following parts.

It is thus clear that, if it keeps its promises, our General Epistemology will be of a great usefulness, and a more important revolution than democracy or electricity. So we can legitimately state that any opposition on the principle is a crime against mankind, just as with classical science. The only useful or acceptable criticism is what would allow to better it, or to correct eventual mistakes.

Can General Epstemology build an exact knowledge?

(Permalink) Will a spiritual or ethic science be exact, in the meaning as we say that physical science is an exact science, able of measuring things with an incredible accuracy? Yes, if we consider that it will allow for exact results, efficient in real life (For instance: «it is right to forbid drugs», or «The practice of non-violence really allows for better social relationship»). But we shall certainly not be able to calculate or measure emotions or consciousness. Those things are simply non measurable, because they are non-Aristotelian, see transcendent (chapter I-9), or simply incommensurable (note 72). However we could consider that these new sciences will be at least true and efficient, at least infinitely more than the dogmatic a priori systems which made ethics, politics or religion before. About «human sciences», such as psychology, sociology, ethnology, General Epistemology is a rather good deal for them. To be fair, it will not be a complete surprise in these domains.

We should not however conclude, from these limitations, that the sciences of the consciousness would be minor sciences, or less «prestigious» than physics. We could live in a world without physics, but to live in a world without ethics costs us a lot. I admire as much the great scientists than the spiritual masters who changed my life, and, definitively, if I had to name the two most remarkable and influential personalities of the 20th Century, I would put Einstein and Gandhi ex-aequo. And still, they would both decline the first place for the other...

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Epistemology        Chapter II-4       

 

 

 

 

 

 

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