Ask Biella: – “Are there any expert opinions (or perspectives) on the use of assumptions in building knowledge?”
“Are there any expert opinions (or perspectives) on the use of assumptions in building knowledge?“
Dear SeongWook, to answer your question I have to assume a bit. 🙂 Otherwise the answer would simply be yes. I assume you are interested in perspectives regarding the use of assumption.
Usually, attitudes towards assumptions are somewhat negative. Like it’s not a good thing to assume. Assumption is typically connected to arrogance and ego. But really, we have to be careful, that only applies to inappropriate assumptions, where we believe or act on some idea or belief without any valid or substantiated reasons for doing so. And even worse, the problem really becomes a problem when we take our assumptions to be fact. This causes all sorts of problems. Especially if we are not even aware that what we think is a fact is actually an assumption.
An assumption is simply “taking something as true.” This is not a problem in itself, but only if we do so without being aware that we are doing so. The trick with assumptions is to use them consciously and knowingly, fully aware that we are doing so. Because really, when we Think-Things-Through, we come to see that assumptions are pretty much unavoidable.
For instance, we have to assume that when we walk down a street the other people on the street aren’t going to just attack us. However, of course this depends on which street, when, and under what conditions. If it is a back-alley of a bad neighbourhood at night, then the opposite assumption is a good one.
When it comes to knowledge building, it is a useful habit to treat All our knowledge as an assumption. That way we remain open to further Learning and Understanding. If we think back to our early childhood, and remember what we believed to be true and to be fact, but which later turned out not to be so, we see how, as children, we assumed our knowing or knowledge to be true and real, and fact. But it wasn’t.
Likewise, if we look back from the future to our Self-of-Now, we will likewise see that we hold some beliefs and ideas which will turn out not to be so, that we are treating some of our beliefs and ideas as fact, when they really are assumptions.
But, you might object, what to do? We have to live with some kind of facts. Yes, we do, the key Understanding and Perspective is to be fully Aware that we are in fact almost always Assuming. If we treat All of our knowledge as an Assumption we actually make our lives easier and more fluid, more open, more able to adapt and flow as Appropriate.
This brings us to a sophisticated Strategy-of-Living: Believing-Without-Believing. Which simply means we treat things AS IF they are true, while keeping in mind at all times that they might not be so. This allows us to set out behaviour and actions in such a way that if things turn out to be true, we are okay, and if they don’t, we are still okay.
For instance say we enter into a business deal. We are not sure if we can trust the other party. So we go into the deal and take out insurance. Either way we are okay. Similarly, we can structure our lives in ways that do not commit us unless we either have no choice, or there is an extremely low risk, or we are willing to assume the risk there is.
When we live this way, we are more Deliberate in our actions, and, as a plus, we are more conscious of taking Responsibility for our actions, always a bonus. This not only makes us more diligent and scrupulous when it comes to our actions, but it reduces complaining by us. We thus become more in charge not only of our actions and behaviours, but also of our knowledge.
What we believe, especially what we believe to be true, is a precious vital part of what we are, who we are. If we are careless in building ourselves, like a poorly built house, we will not be very stable at all. However, when it comes to the Self, fluidity, like the river, is the most stable. A river that stops flowing soon becomes stagnant. Or if there is no flow to a river, it dries up and dies.
Staying open to new learning, and especially remaining open to Changes in our existing knowledge, is absolutely necessary if we are to stay alive as growing and flowing people. Here it is that we Use assumption sophisticatedly. We assume everything to be an assumption and use that life-position in a strategic manner.
At first it may seem like we are making our lives more complicated, but actually it’s the opposite. We become less naive, less one-sided, less dogmatic, less arrogant, less locked-in. We become more fluid, more flexible, more open, not only to ideas, and Understandings, but this broader Perspective makes us more available to opportunity, and creativity, and Alternative-Perspective, and that all opens us up to the More-of-Life.
We achieve all of this marvellousness because we use assumption, we leverage assumption to make it work for us, instead of being a liability. We do this by using assumption Appropriately, which is a marvellous strategy, one we can apply to everything we do.
P.S. – Assumptions, I believe, are great tools, and can be awesome vehicles of navigation. Assumptions have gotten such a bad reputation. However, they can, and do, enable the timid to engage where they might otherwise be totally stumped. Assumptions, used deliberately, and actively deployed from many different vantage points, could yield marvellous insights. These insights can then be pitted against each other, leveraging even deeper insights. One could then follow these deeper insights, and perhaps distil them into concepts, fractals, and More.