imperfect knowledge…

Nothing is certain, nor should we expect it to be. What can we know about China (for example)? For me, it’s far away. I’ve visited China – but only Hong Kong and Macao. I’ve read about China, but only a couple of dozen books. I have studied T’ai Chi, but only for 10 years, and only one form of it, and dabbled in some others. I have eaten Chinese food and cook it myself. I have made some attempts to learn Mandarin. I have watched Chinese films. I have watched documentaries about events there, about Chinese history, Chinese wildlife. I’m sure we would agree that this is a vanishingly small, teeny-weeny, smidgen of what there is to know about China. However, it my best attempt at becoming informed about the place, its people, its history. It is my approximation at knowledge about China. It is, of course, highly imperfect. Composed of a few fragments, glimpses, and all of these moderated and channelled by my perceptions, my prejudices and errors, and those of the people who have delivered information to me. At any given moment, I can only occupy a single viewpoint in space and time. I am subject to moods. I will only live for a brief period. Set up against this is the world around me – vast and ever changing – and that’s only the part we can perceive with our senses, our probing instruments. So let’s not fool ourselves that we know what’s going on – that we can ever know what’s going on. The best we can do is to do the best that we can do. And that will have to do…

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