Tag Archives: knowledge

HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU READ?

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In human experience, written symbols (letters, numbers, musical signs, etc. ) are physical representations of an idea or thought.  Symbols organized into sentences, songs, compositions, formula,  articles or books convey many complex ideas.  These symbols enable communication between people in the physical universe.  Although there a many forms of non-physical communication which we refer to as “emotion” or “telepathy” or “empathy” or “intuition” or “knowing”, the common denominators of human experience or culture is often expressed in books.  When these have been read, understood and compared to other thoughts, we can assume points of view of the various universes we inhabit. When we agree on a our perception of these universes, we call this “reality”.

Which books have helped to shape your reality?  How many books have your read in your life, so far?  How many more books are on your “must read” list?  According to Google, that is busily scanning every book they can get their digitizing hands on, there are about 130 million book titles in the world.  There are more than 2 million NEW book titles published every year (in all languages) . There are approximately 8 billion people in the world.  That is more than 65 book titles per every person in the world.  So, theoretically every person needs to read a minimum of 65 books to reach an “average” level of literacy.  Of course this does not include the avalanche of words available to read that have not been organized into an actual book title, like Twitter and Facebook posting, newspaper and magazine articles and other “non-literature” such as scientific papers, and school textbooks and other propaganda published by governments and corporations.

The largest bookseller on-line is Amazon.com, which has an inventory of only about 1,750,000 titles in English.  That’s only 13 percent of all the book titles  in the world!  This a critically small number of books available to read.  How can one possibly consider themselves to be a literate person?  This does not even include the fact that the majority of books written in the ancient world (prior to 400 AD) were burned by the Christian church!  If you read one book every week 50 for years you would have read only 2,600 books!  According to Google, the average book is 300 pages.  That’s about 75,000 words per book.

As a writer, I am also a reader.  I have often read several books each week during the 50+ years of my reading life, as well as a lot of  printed material, etc.. All together I estimate I’ve read about 4,000 books, so far.  That’s a lot of words — not including the millions of words on the internet — that are not in the form of a book.  Fortunately, there are more than 100,000 book titles available as spoken books — narrated for you by professional actors — on  Audible.com, Librivox.com and sites on the internet.  Now, I can “read” a book with my ears, instead of my  eyes, a fact that I appreciate more and more as I grow older.  I can “read” while I’m walking, driving, jogging, cooking, cleaning, waiting and doing a lot of things that would prevent me from reading with my eyes.  It’s a wonderful age we live in!

So, how do we select the most cherished, life-giving, knowledge-quenching word droplets from the ocean of words?  Having read more than my share of books I can say without any doubt that reading a lot of books does not  make a person “smart”, or “wise”, or “literate”.  However, for me, reading books is usually a more gratifying experience, mentally and spiritually, than watching television or movies or videos.  Books are usually more thoroughly researched, planned, crafted, edited and perfected than other forms of communication.

In this electronic age, when more books are available to us — thanks to digital technology —  than during all of the history of humankind combined, can we expect that humanity would be more well informed and intelligent that ever before?  Books themselves are not wisdom.  If books are not read by people, the knowledge contained in them remains hidden.  They might has well not have been written.

My personal recommendation for your reading or listening book list are the books I’ve written, of course. My view of “reality” is different than most.  My universe is unique, as is yours.  I invite you to share my universe, through my books.

— This blatant self-endorsement is brought to you by Lawrence R. Spencer —

INFORMATION VS KNOWLEDGE

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A person can have access to unlimited quantities and varieties of information (data), yet have no real knowledge, i.e. cognizance or comprehension.  Data is only as valuable as it facilitates understanding.

knowledgeDefinition of knowledge

  1. 2 a (1) :  the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) :  acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique b (1) :  the fact or condition of being aware of something  (2) the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning :  cognition

THE PHILOSOPHICAL MIND

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“Philosophical minds always love knowledge of a sort which shows them the eternal nature not varying from generation and corruption.  He whose desires are drawn towards knowledge in every form will be absorbed in the pleasures of the soul.  Then how can he who has magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all time and all existence, think much of human life?

He cannot.

Or can such an one account death fearful? 

No indeed.

Then the cowardly and mean nature has no part in true philosophy? 

Certainly not. 

Or again: can he who is harmoniously constituted, who is not covetous or mean, or a boaster, or a coward-can he, I say, ever be unjust or hard in his dealings? 

Impossible. 

Then you will soon observe whether a man is just and gentle, or rude and unsociable; these are the signs which distinguish even in youth the philosophical nature from the unphilosophical. ”

Plato, THE REPUBLIC, 360 BCE

CULT OF IGNORANCE

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“(January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) Isaac Asimov was a Russian American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His works have been published in all ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System Asimov’s career can be divided into several time periods. His early career, dominated by science fiction, began with short stories in 1939 and novels in 1950. This lasted until about 1958, all but ending after publication of The Naked Sun. He began publishing nonfiction in 1952, co-authoring a college-level textbook called Biochemistry and Human Metabolism. Following the brief orbit of the first man-made satellite Sputnik I by the USSR in 1957, his production of nonfiction, particularly popular science books, greatly increased, with a consequent drop in his science fiction output. Over the next quarter century, he wrote only four science fiction novels. Starting in 1982, the second half of his science fiction career began with the publication of Foundation’s Edge. From then until his death, Asimov published several more sequels and prequels to his existing novels, tying them together in a way he had not originally anticipated, making a unified series. There are, however, many inconsistencies in this unification, especially in his earlier stories.

Asimov believed that his most enduring contributions would be his “Three Laws of Robotics” and the Foundation Series (see Yours, Isaac Asimov, p. 329). Furthermore, the Oxford English Dictionary credits his science fiction for introducing the words positronic (an entirely fictional technology), psychohistory (which is also used for a different study on historical motivations) and robotics into the English language. Asimov coined the term robotics without suspecting that it might be an original word; at the time, he believed it was simply the natural analogue of words such as mechanics and hydraulics, but for robots. Unlike his word psychohistory, the word robotics continues in mainstream technical use with Asimov’s original definition. Star Trek: The Next Generation featured androids with “positronic brains” giving Asimov full credit for “inventing” this fictional technology.”  (Wikipedia.org)

UNDERSTANDING

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KNOWLEDGE & ABILITY

( Image by Cameron Gray )

Question your own knowledge.
If you do not do so, then you will not learn.
A person who believes they know everything will never ask a question.
This is more than death.
Begin where you are, with the abilities you have now.
Try to gain more of these abilities. Especially understandings.
Real understanding, like imagination, requires high concentration.
When we really understand something, we know it is true.
Ability is not a Destination.
Knowledge is a Journey.

—  Lawronia —