What if we stopped confusing information with knowledge?
Today’s “Day of the Thinker”, will be focusing, for once, on a doctor—the neurologist, Lionel Naccache, to be precise. Naccache is the author of the many books, including Are We Losing Knowledge? From Mythology to Neurology (“Perdons nous connaissance? De la mythologie à la neurologie”, in French). I sincerely believe that neurology is a science that we will explore deeply during this century—perhaps this is due to the influence of my dear uncle, Dr. Jean Cambier, former president of the French Neurologists Society. 😉
Lionel Naccache is a 41 year-old neurologist, who works at the hospital La Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris. He has written many works, including New Unconsciousness—Freud, Christopher Columbus, Neurosciences that reveals the workings of what he refers to as the “fiction-interpretation-belief” system that characterizes human beings. In his thesis, he believes Freudian unconsciousness doesn’t exist from a scientific point of view. Nevertheless, through neuroscience, he is able to show that consciousness doesn’t immediately provide one with information. However, unconsciousness allows us to create a virtual world in which the “I” is put at the center in a virtual “game”, to establish a subjective vision and a system of sense allowing decision, and the survival of humans.
In Are We Losing Knowledge? Lionel Naccache asks if we have lost all that is fundamental to knowledge, even if we describe ourselves as a “Society of Knowledge”. He tries in particular to understand the causes and consequences of a change in paradigm: today, knowledge does not inspire fear in anyone, despite the fact that for three thousand years, Western culture has generally regarded knowledge as being vital but dangerous. This “essential poison”, is seen throughout mythology: be it Adam and Eve, the myth of Icarus or Plato’s Cave. Is this break away from our cultural heritage progress or regression? Neurology, a source of knowledge on knowledge, gives us a few keys to better understand the fundamental difference between information and knowledge: knowledge is an experience that engages the subject and implies subjectivity. A subject transforms information into fiction and finds himself transformed by “ingesting” the information in question. For Lionel Naccache “The ‘I’ is a fiction fed by experiencing knowledge.” The author is convinced that “confusion between information and knowledge, and denying the inherent fiction between interpretation and belief, is the source of contemporary malaise.” He wishes for an “authentic society of knowledge”, accessible to all, that puts us on the path to a “neo humanism”. He recommends teaching young people, starting in high school, the rudiments of neuroscience and subjectivity so they can take notice of the “fiction machines” that we have all become. To allow each person to consciously create their own path of knowledge and to progress humanity that, by essence, characterizes us.