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Evolution of Knowledge
By Mohan Shenoy
        Knowledge is in the brain. The structure of the brain, its size and its differentiation determines its capacity. Differentiation is the fine-tuning of the cells of the brain, in that the chemical actions and power of the electrical charges can work better in well-differentiated cells than in the cells that are less mature.The child's brain can take in information and accumulate it for future use. The amount of information accumulated as days go by determines the total knowledge in the brain. There are thinking cells also apart from the storing cells. The thinking cells utilize the stored knowledge and arrive at a conclusion to put into use.

        If there is any action needed then the order to execute the action is passed on to the motor cells of tongue to speak, hands to do, the legs to walk, etc.The thinking cells work with the desire cells. The desire cells work with the hormones. All our emotions depend on the thinking cells as well as the knowledge cells. But the hormones and feed-back from the sense organs influence the thinking cells. There are certain points in the brain which come to a conclusion after thinking as to the time to initiate action. Then there are imagination cells which can build up stories and concoctions. These cells can cook up a completely untrue and unrealistic story.

        The brains of little insects, fish, snakes, birds, animals etc., vary in size and differentiation and therefore their knowledge also varies. As the life-containing (living) beings are at different stages of evolution their brain capacity corresponds to the degree of evolution of their brains.

        Gathering information and storing it for use later also depends on the evolution of the brain. The animal nearest to the humans the chimpanzee has a brain that is much less evolved than the brain of the humans. All the animals have their emotions like fear, love, hate, anger, etc., similar to that of the humans at a lesser degree. Their emotions also depend upon the sophistication of their sense organs so that the chimpanzee for example does not feel shame to walk naked. The human emotions include the emotion of shame but we see that the sense of shame develops in a child after it grows a couple of years.

        The speed with which a child's brain develops to fully express emotions is part of the development of the brain. Environment, nutrition, and knowledge inputs play significant parts in formation of emotional cells.Crude emotions develop sooner than the fine emotions. Art sense is part of the fine emotion. Knowledge of the musical notes and ability to sing in correct keys are also examples of fine emotions. A bird sings in a fixed number of notes while a human being can sing in a vast varieties of notes. Ability to speak follows the sensory inputs from the hearing apparatus and storing of sounds in the memory cells. Production of appropriate sound by using the mouth, tongue and the throat requires sufficient development of an evolved brain. The evolution of the brain of the birds is not enough to speak like the humans.

        Once the brain gets full capacity to know, realize, conclude and then execute various actions of a human being then the amount of stored knowledge becomes critical for life to be useful and enjoyable. Then our opinions about various abstract subjects is formed. Abstract subjects include unseen, unheard, and untouched things.

        Our brains are as proud as we are. After the development of the brain to the level of 14 years of age then the brain begins to develop a sense of pride. This pride is a fine variety of anger. Anger is very crude emotion in that even the lower kind of living things have it. But when it is refined, anger turns into pride. Our pride tells us not to say no to many things, one of which is to say 'I don't know'. 'The knowledge of Braahman is not an understanding of pantheistic doctrines such as may be obtained by reading the Sacred Books of the East in an easy chair but a realization (in all senses) of personal identity with the universal spirit, in the light of which all material attachments and fetters fall away.'

        Although people do not know fully about a large number of things that they see everyday, they are unable to form a conclusion about them. They can not arrive at a definite identification of the matter or understand the nature of the things. Then the imagination cells begin to work and create all kinds of stories realistic as well as unrealistic. This lack of clear and conclusive idea gives rise to what is known as belief and faith.When we do not know how an earthquake takes place in a certain desert then we form an opinion about its causes. If the expression of the opinion becomes necessary, we begin to give explanations; then we begin to form stories which may or may not be true. This story-telling is what formed our scriptures. We can not acquire knowledge about everything in the world and some of the things elude our direct knowledge. We form opinions based on the knowledge acquired directly.

        The knowledge grows which means it changes according to the situations that develop from time to time. When this happens we find that our older conclusions and opinions were incorrect. The beliefs and traditions are all based on the knowledge we have had at the time we formed our beliefs and traditions. When the knowledge grows and we find that our older beliefs and traditions are incorrect then we ought to change our beliefs and traditions to suit the new knowledge.

        Since ages wise men transferred their knowledge into writing and the books were written based on the knowledge and beliefs that ran at the time of their writing. In India Braahmans were the wise men. Their concept of knowledge was not just literacy but deeper.

        I wish to reproduce a paragraph from the book, Hinduism and Buddhism, An Historical Sketch Vol 1 by Sir Charles Eliot. "The best opinion of India has always felt that the way of knowledge or Jnana was the true way. The favourite thesis of the Braahmans was that a man should devote his youth to study, his maturity to the duties and ceremonies of a householder, and his age to more sublime speculations. But at all periods the idea that it was possible to know God and the universe was allied to the idea that all ceremonies as well as all worldly effort and indeed all active morality are superfluous.

        All alike are unessential and trivial, and merit the attention only of those who know nothing higher. Human feelings and interests qualified and contradicted this negative and unearthly view of religion, but still popular sentiment as well as philosophic thought during the whole period of which we know something of them in India tended to regard the highest life as consisting in rapt conemplation or insight accompanied by the suppression of desire and by disengagement from mundane ties and interests. But knowledge in Indian theology implies more intensity than we attach to the word and even some admixture of volition.

        The books are read after many years and still the knowledge in these books remains the same. As the old theories are discarded because of the new theories that found them incorrect, new books with the new theories are written.

        Wise people will not hesitate to throw away the old books and adopt the new theories in the new books. What prevents us from discarding the old scriptures?There are no new acceptable theories that can replace them. The subjects are enormously abstract. We are probably searching in wrong places for the answers. There may not be any answers to some of the questions.But evolution of knowledge to the present level lets us rethink our beliefs and traditions so that we do not follow blindly what is in the older books.