Thoughts on the Advancement of Civilization

All advancement of civilization, society, and culture depends on the consolidation of knowledge (cognition, apprehension, tuition), insight (re-cognition, understanding, comprehension, intuition), and skill (wisdom, application).

Civilization, considered at the highest level of abstraction, is comprised of individual societies, each of which may be comprised again of innumerable society groupings. Societies at the lowest level of concreteness are families, which may be of varying size and which may be considered in broader terms comprised of multiple generations and in narrowest terms comprised of only the immediate family unit of parents and children. Each family is comprised of persons, individuals bound inextricably by their physical reproduction and location, combined with their psychological development based on the experiences of childhood. Culture is the ideas and corresponding behaviors that each person exhibits as a result of their environment and their choices. The culture is built on three intertwined aspects of human existence: knowledge, insight, and skill—or their opposites.

  1. For civilization to advance: societies within that civilization must advance.
  2. For societies to advance: families within those societies must advance.
  3. For families to advance: persons within those families must advance.
  4. For persons to advance: the culture by which they operate must advance.
  5. For culture to advance: knowledge, insight, and skill must advance.

Knowledge is basic facts or bits of information related to reality. Facts or bits of information not in alignment with reality are what we call “false.” False “facts,” of course, are not facts at all, but merely pretended facts. False “information,” of course, is not information at all, but merely disinformation. So-called “knowledge” based on pretended facts or disinformation is not knowledge at all, but falsehood.

Insight is the collection of knowledge points that we have and relationship between them that we currently perceive. Insight is possible only with true knowledge, not with falsehood, though there is a corresponding condition based on falsehood and rooted in evil intent, which is not insight at all, but merely misunderstanding. Insight is the thorough development of knowledge points with a correspondingly thorough perception of the relationships between knowledge points. The more thorough that development, the more complete our insight.

Skill is the application of insight to our daily activities. Another common name for this is wisdom, though wisdom typically refers to this process more abstractly, and I desire a term that more clearly represents the practical use of insight to the concrete circumstances of our lives.

Education is the process of developing these three intertwined aspects of human existence as each human moves through the stages of development along the universal continuum from fetus to corpse. More abstractly, education is the drawing out of the innate dignity each human is born with as those endowed with the image of God, however marred it may be by mankind’s fall into sin.

Civilization can only advance if the culture at its foundation improves. Civilization will advance in precise proportion to the improvement of its foundational culture.

The first job, therefore, of parents is to consolidate all the knowledge, insight, and skill they have received by teaching it to their children, thereby drawing out of their children their inherent dignity and worth, which, if not drawn out, will be destroyed and wasted. Dignity, in human terms, comes from within, not from without, but is only of worth when it is expressed outwardly, when it is applied outwardly in the form of choices, habits, and behaviors. Dignity can be retained only as it is revealed, and it can be revealed only as it is reproduced. In other words, dignity is active and rooted in action; it is not passive nor rooted in mere existence. To have dignity is to act with dignity.

This, then, is the root of education: to behave with as much dignity as we are able, increasing our knowledge points, our insight regarding the relationship between knowledge points, and our skill in applying that insight in the day-to-day, moment-to-moment choices of our lives; and having succeeded at this, to pass along as much of this as possible to those humans we have the authority to instruct.