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Shainberg, D. (1975). On the Role of Knowledge. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:311-319.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:311-319

On the Role of Knowledge

David Shainberg, M.D.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO DISTINGUISH between knowledge, needing to know, and knowing. Such distinctions could be the substance of an entire week's discussion to bring even a minute amount of clarity to such a complicated area. For our purposes, I think we can simply say knowledge is having some form, model, or image of how an over-there objective, so-called reality, is shaped. The constructions or consistencies are confirmed in tests, actions, and interactions with the world. Or, there are connections between this model and other models.

I will define knowing (as opposed to knowledge) as the action of perception. It is an inner harmony described as insight, understanding, or what Krishnamurti calls intelligence. It is a participatory process having to do with awareness of our organism as an aspect of all of nature—not as an example of nature, but a presence manifesting simultaneously with the birds, the trees, the transformations of energy.

Needing to know is an active process I hope will be clearer as I proceed. In the rest of the discussion, I want to go briefly into a model which intrigues me as a demonstration of our question. This model is long distance running, an activity which has taught me a great deal about the place of knowledge in transforming.

Why does someone run distances which are not easily accomplished? Why do I do it, for example, day after day, sometimes five to six miles a day? (Others run as much as twelve to fifteen miles a day.) For me, one part is the memory of the results of previous running: each day that memory brings me back to do it again. I feel more intact and more firm of body and mind after a run. On approaching the situation, I feel a desire to loosen my muscles, to get out the tightness, to be in the air, breathing and able to move in open space.

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