ALAN WATTS: WHO KNOWS?

“Every culture is based on assumptions so taken for granted so that they are barely conscious, and it is only when we study different cultures and languages that we become aware of them. Standard average European (SAE) languages, for example, have sentences so structures that the verb (event) must be set in motion by the noun (thing) – thereby posing a metaphysical problem as tricky, and probably as meaningless, as that of the relation of the mind to body. We cannot talk of ‘knowing’ without assuming that there is some ‘who’ or ‘what’ that knows, not realizing that this is nothing more than a grammatical convention.

“The supposition that knowing requires a knower is based on a linguistic and not an existential rule, as becomes obvious when we consider that raining requires no rainer and clouding no clouder. Thus, when a Chinese speaker receives a formal invitation, he may reply simply with the [single character] word ‘know’, indicating awareness of the event, which they may or may not attend”.

 

Alan Watts Tao: the watercourse way Souvenir Press: undated Amazon Kindle edition (with the collaboration of Al Chung-Liang Huang ; additional calligraphy by Lee Chih-chang)