The Hierarchy of Knowledge

In essence, empirical and positive knowledge and information serve as a stepping stone or tool for the attainment of existential and phenomenological knowledge and information. Whereas empirical and positive knowledge and information tends to be disorganized and fragmented and thus reflect a disorganized and fragmented mind, existential and phenomenological knowledge and information are organized and “unitive,” and thus reflect an organized and unitive mind. What enables the pivot from empirical and positive knowledge and information towards existential and phenomenological knowledge is philosophy and religion.

            Thus, there is a “Hierarchy of Knowledge” to borrow from the Islamic philosopher and scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr. On one hand, there is knowledge and information that is organized and unitive, which in turn leads to the “Highest Origin” of organized and unitive knowledge and information through philosophy and religion, to borrow from the medieval Persian and Islamic philosopher and scholar Mulla Sadra. And on the other hand, there is disorganized and fragmented knowledge and information which in turn are a reflection of a disorganized and fragmented mind due to the lack of philosophical and religious underpinnings.

            Seyyed Hossein Nasr received his degrees from MIT and Harvard many decades ago, before serving as an adviser to the monarchical Iranian government which preceded the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1970’s. After the overthrow of the monarchical government which he advised by revolutionaries who later established the Islamic Republic of Iran, Nasr came to the United States and became a prominent professor and religious scholar in the Washington DC-Metropolitan Area. Nasr is still a professor and lecturer at George Washington University, and he regularly frequents the same Persian restaurant and café in Northern Virginia – Friends Kabob – which I frequent on a regular basis at around noontime and early afternoons.

Nasr is always accompanied by a circle of admirers and students during his afternoon excursions to this Persian restaurant and café. Despite his advanced age – eighty-eight years to be exact – Nasr retains an incredible sense of humor and a cogent mind. After offering my greetings and salutations to the professor himself, I often engage with his admirers and students at this Persian restaurant and café when I am not preoccupied by the Al-Jazeera livestream on YouTube or with reading and writing. My mornings begin with two mugs of coffee, the perusal of American news media and the BBC, and then a noontime and early afternoon excursion to this Persian café and restaurant. My evenings consist of going back home to prepare for what is now a fairly early dinner, followed by extensive meditation and prayer before going to bed.

In a sense, success and stability in one’s daily affairs revolve around a continuous and stable routine and regiment. Churchill, for example, was known to have eaten the same food and worn the same clothing every single day. In turn, my daily routine and regiment is quite rigid and stable, despite the fluidity and flexibility of the method I use for research in terms of book writing and blogging. Although repetition can be tiresome at times, there is perhaps no point in fixing what is not broken.

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