The role of knowledge in being and doing

The second question I am interested in related to being and doing is; what is the role of knowledge, is it in the being or doing? Or does it connect being to doing? How does knowledge as being entail doing? How does doing lead to knowledge? We all know things that entail certain actions that we avoid or partake in when knowledge tells us otherwise – or do we?

Knowledge of being and doing just might be deeper discussion than I might want to get into. This is essentially an attempt to understand the relationship between metaphysics and epistemology. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that is “concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being” whereas epistemology is “the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.” Can you see the tension yet?

How we can we have a theory of knowledge without being? There has to be something first in order to know. But yet how we can know being without a theory of knowledge? John Frame speaks of a “multi perspectival” approach in his philosophy (and theology). Frame says that with every act of knowing “the knower is in constant contact with three things (or “perspectives”) – the knowing subject himself, the object of knowledge, and the standard or criteria by which knowledge is attained.” With these perspectives it is presupposed that the knower (a being) is in contact with the fact that s/he exists and with the object of knowledge and criteria for attaining knowledge. The multi perspectival approach provides a way to get past the initial dilemma of what comes first, being or knowing? Do we need to be in order to know, if so, how do we know being? If we need to know first, then how can we know if we are not? I almost just started a sentence with the word ‘clearly.’ Of course with these topics, nothing is clear (except for the degree to which I have done over my head here).

Having emerged from that first tension scarred and fatigued, I want to look at the easier questions about knowledge, being and doing.

Does a knowledge of being change the doing? Let’s take a very practical example of being a physical therapist. By being a physical therapist we expect that the PT will do physical therapy. For that the PT has to know they are a physical therapist. That is easy enough. Let’s go further. What about the PT being the type of therapist that always as a justification for their actions. So here, “being” is being a PT that always has a justification for their actions. Let’s call it being a “justifiable PT.” Being the “justifiable PT” requires that the PT know how to justify. Let’s say a PT is, without them actually knowing, often times a “justifiable PT.” That is, they often do (as in doing) physical therapy in a way that they could (though they have not thought of it) justify what they are doing. Then are they a “justifiable PT”? Taking this further, if they come to know that they are in fact a “justifiable PT” does that then change their behavior (their doing) to be more constantly aware of their behavior and more often “do” physical therapy in a way that is justifiable?

For what ever reason (simply from my arm chair research post here in my recliner), I believe that the “justifiable PT” that does not know they are justifiable is still justifiable - though is at risk of being not justifiable. Whereas the justifiable PT that knows they are justifiable is more likely to adhere to the behavior (the doing) that comes from being justifiable. Another example: A person that - without realizing it does not eat any animal products is vegan even if they do not know it. Though, the vegan knowing they are vegan is more likely to continue making conscious choices that align with being vegan.

The point of all of this is that a knowledge based practice wants to help create “justifiable PTs.” Justifiable PTs that know they are justifiable PTs and from that position are found doing physical therapy in a way that they can justify and are comfortable with what that entails. A necessary but not sufficient condition of this is familiarity with evidence and interpretation of research. I think we need justifiable PTs (as a state of being that entails a certain set of doing) more than we need PTs that use evidence based practice. I think all “justifiable PT’s” use evidence based practice, but I am not sure all PTs that use evidence based practice are justifiable.

Notice finally that we have not wrestled with what comes first the being or the doing….does our justifiable PT practice as they do because of who they are, or is who they are because of how they practice? That discussion is the next post..on transformation.

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