Recognition in the Domain of Thoughts
Recognition in the Domain of Thoughts
The Relationship between the Mind and the Observable Facts in Discovery
The Relationship between the "Self" and "Other than the "Self" in Cognition
Recognition is based on two pillars:
1- The "self," the innate pole, or the recognizer that discovers facts and realities.
2- All apart from the "self," which are the observable facts of the universe; the target of discovery.
The human self has some tools for making contact with facts. The question here is whether these two pillars mutually influence each other or not – in fact, they do. To find out how, we must first study the factors affecting each pillar.
Pillar 1: The "Self" and the Factors that Influence the Process of Gaining Knowledge
There are nine factors that must be taken into consideration about the first pillar:
1-The "Self," the "Ego" or the "Personality:" The self is in charge of man's life, soul and cognition. Any disorder or disturbance that affects its various aspects can definitely influence its management of the cognitive factors. The human ego serves two purposes in the process of cognition:
a) Managing the factors of cognition and bringing them on the way to the adapted goals.
b) Refining the cognition that infiltrates man through his means of gaining knowledge.
The active elements of the self, which are like the refining factors of the self, influence the functions of the self and the knowledge it gains. Optimisms, pessimisms, reasoning, being influenced by emotions, haste, patience, tendencies toward knowledge or stupefaction, are all factors that can indeed influence the domain of the self, and color knowledge, particularly regarding theoretical and receptive facts in the humanities.
2-The Behavior of the Characters: The internal active element that determines how one acts is called his character, his behavior, like artistic character, political character, legal character, etc. Sometimes man's character is so influential that it affects man's knowledge profoundly. If one has artistic character, for instance, "influences the basics, characteristics or results of the knowledge he gains with his artistic feelings. By discovering one's behavior, we can guess what his viewpoint is regarding facts.
3-Various Factors of the Brain: Factors like imagination, confirmation, memory, thought, speculation, abstraction, allocations, the conscious and the subconscious, intuition, and revelations can play an active role in the human mind. They affect our knowledge and viewpoints. Any disorder in our conscious, subconscious or unconscious domains can influence our scientific outcome. If one of man's dearest relatives dies in a terrible incident, the grief of the incident will affect his mind when making judgments about it. As Jalal-addin Mohammad Molawi (Rumi) says:
چـون تو با پرّ هــوا بر می پـــریلاجرم بر من گمان بـد میبـــری
هــر که را افعال دام و دد بــــودبر کريمانـــش گمـان بــد بــود
چون تو جزو عالمی پس ای مهيـنکل آن را همچـو خـود دانـی يقيـن
چون تو برگردیّ و برگـردد سـرتخانه را گــــردنده بينــد منظرت
ور تو در کشتی روی بر يـَـم روانساحــل يم را همی بينــــی روان
گر تـو باشـی تنگدل از ملحمـــهتنــگ بينـی چو دنيـــا را همـــه
ور تـو خوش باشی به کام دوستاناين جهان بنمايــدت چون بوستان
(Since you see everything as serving to fulfill your whims and desires, you become pessimistic about me. If one behaves like wild beasts, he/she will become suspicious about great human beings. Man, as generally a part of the whole universe, sees the universe similar to himself. If you turn your head, it will seem that the world is revolving, too. If you are in a ship, you may think the shore is moving away from you. If something distressing happens, the whole world will become miserable to you, and if you are happily spending time with your friends, it will be like a paradise.)
4-Natural Senses: One of man's channels for establishing contact with facts is his senses. Man's natural senses comprehend objects and actions in a particular way. Man's eyes or ears cannot, for instance, see or hear all sounds or scenes. The natural senses can make contact with certain phenomena in accordance with their special structure, and the slightest change in their structure will affect man's knowledge.
5-The Secondary Effects of the Natural Senses: Illnesses and changes that occur in man's natural senses are some of the secondary effects of the natural senses. In some diseases, for instance, man may see everything in a particular color.
6-Sensory Activities that Affect the Conscious: Continual contact between the human senses and natural phenomena makes the mind unable to make direct contact with them. When man encounters a phenomenon like sunlight, for instance, he is affected in a way that his subsequent contact with sunlight will be influenced with it. As Farabi says, the human eye gets the light from the sun, and uses that light to see the sunlight. He adds, "Each of our senses is affected by what it observes, and the influence is similar to the quality of the observed facts. If the effect is strong, it will remain for some time after the direct contact with the observed fact is over, like the human eye looking at the sunlight. If man stops looking at the sun, the effect will remain for a while. Also, if the ear hears a long, tiring sound, it will keep hearing it a while after the sound goes away, too."
Jalal-addin Mohammad Molawi has also pointed out man's manipulative role in his famous story about the elephant:
پيل انـد ر خانـــة تاريـــک بــودعرضـه را آورده بودنـــدش هنـــود
از بـــرای ديدنــش مردم بســی اندر آن ظلمت همی شد هر کسی
ديدنش با چشم چون ممکـن نبـود انــدر آن تاريکيــش کف میبسـود
آن يکی را کف به خرطــوم اوفتاد گفــت همچـون ناودانــــش نهـاد
آن يکی را دست بر گوشـش رسيـدآن براو چـون بادبيـزن شد پديد
آن يکی را کــف چو بر پايــش بودگفت شکل پيـل ديـدم چون عمود
آن يکی بر پشــت او بنهاد دستگفت خود اين پيل چـون تختی بُدست
هم چنين هر يک به جزئي كاو رسيدفهم آن می کرد هــر آن مــی تنيـد
از نظرگـه گفتشـان شــد مختلــف آن يکی دالش لقـب داد آن الـــف
در کف هر کــس اگر شمعـی بـدی اختلاف از گفتشــان بيـرون شــدی
(An elephant was brought into a dark room, and many people came to see it. But since the room was dark, the people touched, and each person came to a different point of view. One who had touched the elephant's trunk said the elephant is like a drainpipe. Another, who had touched the ear, said it resembled a big fan. One man touched the elephant's leg, and claimed the elephant was like a pillar. Another touched the elephant's back, and said it was like a bed. Each person expressed the knowledge he had gained based on what he had found; the ideas were quite diverse. Had they candles, however, their remarks would be united, and accurate.)
Thus, men have diversities due to several factors:
a) Limitations in their ways of contact with facts
b) The reflections in the mind – each man, having discovered one part of the elephant's body, interpreted it merely based on that one part.
c) Being content with the initial impression. If one man touched the trunk, for instance, he said it was like a drainpipe. Another, who had touched the elephant's ear, said it looked like a fan. In other words, each of them remained content with what they had initially found.
7-Tools Used for Expanding Knowledge: The tools and laboratories man uses in order to expand his knowledge definitely affect his ways of discovery. Each machine shows facts in accordance with its own particular structure; a telescope, for instance, is by no means comparable with man's senses in showing heavenly bodies, and any change in its structure will also influence our view of space. Each object has different characteristics. If the temperature of a room is 27 degrees, for instance, each object in it, like the carpet, the windows, wooden objects or woolen clothes will have different temperatures. As Max Planck says, "The physicist's ideal desire is to discover the real world outside. Despite all the tools of discovery he has, his measurements will never tell anything about the real world. Measures are merely somewhat uncertain messages; as Helmholtz says, they are signals transmitted to the real world, from which man attempts to get conclusions, like a linguist trying to decipher documents dating back to an ancient civilization. The linguist must accept the fact that the document has some meaning if he is to succeed. Likewise, the physicist must believe that the real world follows laws and principles that we cannot fathom; he may even have to abandon hopes of totally discovering them, or determine their identity with any certainty."
Man's tools and devices of discovery lead to two forms of manipulation on man's behalf. If he looks at tiny particles through a microscope, for example, the particles are revealed to him having gone through two tunnels: the machine itself and man's own senses.
8-Man's Methods and Goals: How man tends to discover and identify things and his goal both influence his process of discovery. When man focuses all of his senses and thoughts upon a certain goal, his knowledge will be limited to that particular end. If a man heads for a mountain in search of firewood, he will not pay attention to anything else on his way, and if asked whether he saw anything else there, he will say "No." If one studies facts in order to achieve a certain goal, he will not understand the facts accurately. Basically, scientific fairness implies that if studies with a certain goal fail, the scientist should not claim that he studied but could not find anything; they had better say that he was not able to find what he needed with the tools he had.
9-The Various Situations Facts Have: Farabi believes that since knowledge and the known are correlated, if the existence of the known is complete, the knowledge about it will also be complete. Likewise, if there are any contradictions about the known, its knowledge will not be complete, either, such as movement, time, infinity and oblivion. The truth about movement is gradual exit from potentiality to activity, and each moment of it involves proof and defiance. The dependency of movement upon the moving subject and its relationship with the cause brings about contradiction. If we could gain knowledge about any kind of motion from the moving subject and its cause, our knowledge would be more complete.
Not all of the above nine factors influence recognition at the same time. One or several of them usually affect the knowledge we have of a subject.