IN Namibia, it is very unfortunate that our education curriculum has ruthlessly provided us with one line perspective in understanding the order and the meaning of things, such as the order of time, politics, society and humankind as a whole.
A reflective person would put understanding as a foremost element in critical scrutiny.
In philosophy, nothing is sacrosanct and in the realm of critical thinking there is no entertainment of the actualised way of understanding the order of things, as this results in a state of poverty, creating a naïve society.
The word poverty is a multifaceted concept, which takes the form of economic, political and social perspectives, and therefore its understanding is not limited only to economics.
The poverty of understanding can therefore be a state of intellectual insolvency and social deprivation, in terms of how we as human beings place our minds on certain states of affairs, without an objective scrutiny and understanding of such a state of affairs.
As we try to explain this philosophical posture of the poverty of understanding, the omnitemporality of truth, or rather the temporal changeability of truth values, will guide us to digest this narrative, using time as a competent example.
To understand how the concept of understanding has evolved, particularly in the world of logical propositions, logic has it that the word ‘exists’ can be used in a timeless sense in three phases namely: What ‘exists’ now, what once ‘existed’ in the past and what will come to ‘exist’ in the future.
Whether this has been true, and is now or never, will be is determined by the movement of propositions becoming true, as all propositions turn out to be omnitemporarily true or false.
In one my conversations with other students, we argued whether time does exist or not. Surprisingly, one student philosophically argued that everything is imaginable and that includes time, another said that the understanding that time sexist in a linear fashion does not hold logic, but rather that it’s our very own understanding of time that is linear.
That’s where we diverted to what ‘understanding’ meant and certainly shared some insights, by contemplating on its poverty in contemporary societies.
Human perception of time in a linear fashion does not make time linear, what is linear here is not time itself, but human perceptions.
Time is an independent variable, whereas our understanding of time is dependent of our cultures and religions.
Time also varies, in accordance to our geographical locations on earth.
Understanding is a logical interpretation of the order and the meaning of propositions, either literally or figuratively.
Understanding is a state of cognisance that helps us to digest conversations in a comprehensible manner.
If one cannot understand a proposition, there is likely to be misunderstandings, as understanding means to grasp the order of meaning and reason.
For example, in Africa the understanding of time is based upon a Western interpretation of the meaning and the order of time, which is notoriously understood in things such as seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries and so on.
The use of the Gregorian/Western calendar in Africa is one example that effectually influenced our understanding of the order of the phenomenon of time.
Reflectively, our understandings and misunderstandings of certain state of affairs, does not imply the impossibility of such state of affairs or any other possible state of affairs.
For example, there was a time when our ancestors understood that the earth is not round.
This misguided perception is no longer valid, as modern scientific literacy has proved the possibility of the earth being round.
This was not the case then, and yet the understanding of the impossibility of the possibility of the earth being spherical was in no way limited by our ancestors’ inability to comprehend it.
The changeability of truth values also contributes to our understanding of the state of affairs, for instance, if it’s true now that you will do ‘A’ tomorrow, then tomorrow when you do ‘A’, you are not choosing to do ‘A’; you are not responsible for doing it, you are doing it because it was destined that you should do it. But on the other hand, this argument’s literal interpretation obeys a logical blunder’ in fact, it puts the cart before the horse, because it’s not a proposition being true , which make us do something tomorrow, its rather that our doing something tomorrow accounts for a certain proposition being true; namely the proposition which ascribes that particular action tomorrow.
For example, the weather bureau provides a weather forecast that may well be true today, that it will rain heavily tomorrow, but it’s not the truth of this proposition which causes the heavy rain tomorrow, but rather it is that there will be a heavy rain tomorrow, which accounts for this particular proposition’s truth.
In fact, what causes the rain has solely to do with the formation of clouds in the atmosphere, and not the truth value of the proposition.
Truth values of propositions are not causal agents; in fact they don’t cause anything. Some propositions become true or false at a certain time or over a period of time, and therefore their meanings and truth values vary according to our understandings and experience, during our lifespan. The poverty of understanding is a concern in public discourse and needs sharp talks and a good amount of critical intelligence, in order to radically change the distorted versions imposed upon specific societies, while creating new, logical understandings, devoid of Western influence that creates a false consciousness of universal laws of nature and social existence.
*Shivute Kaapanda, a critical theorist (Eyanda village)
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015