Excerpt About Knowingness

The Capacity for Knowing is Preverbal, Prelabeling

Knowingness is more than just perception, for perception alone indicates only the fact of seeing differentiation. To recognize the differentiation—for differentiation to become discrimination—knowingness is required. This knowingness precedes labeling. For example, an infant knows that it is uncomfortable without having the word or even the concept for being uncomfortable. It simply starts squirming. Its body recognizes that something is uncomfortable. Later on, when we develop language, we call it discomfort. So this capacity for knowing is preverbal, prelabeling. Labeling arises as the next step. In experience, first there is differentiation, that is, awareness that there are various elements and patterns in consciousness. This awareness functions in the same way that a mirror reflects—it reveals the shapes and patterns of our experience but provides no knowledge about what is reflected. The next step is discrimination: recognizing what these elements and patterns are. Knowing implies both their differentiation and discrimination. The third step is labeling, putting a tag on each known element. Thinking assumes all three of these steps in order to proceed. The knowing necessary for understanding occurs in the second step: the discrimination of experience. Labeling may arise—it can be present or not. If it is, it will serve as a tool for articulating the understanding, unless we use the labels as a substitute for the direct knowing. In that case, we end up with only mental understanding.

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