The poverty of understanding


In Namibia, it is very unfortunate that our education curriculum has ruthlessly only provided us with a one line perspective in understanding the order and the meaning of things such as the order of time, politics, society and humankind as a whole.

A reflective person would put understanding as a foremost element in critical scrutiny, as in philosophy nothing is sacrosanct and in the realm of critical thinking there is no entertainment of the actualised way of understanding the order of things as this result in a poverty state that creates a naïve society.

The word poverty is a multifaceted concept which takes the form of economic, political and social perspectives and therefore its understanding is not limited only to economics.

The poverty of understanding can therefore be a state of intellectual insolvency and social deprivation about how we as human beings place our minds on certain state of affairs without objective scrutiny and understanding of such state of affairs.

As we try to explain this philosophical posture of the poverty of understanding, the Omni temporality of truth or rather the temporal changeability of truth values will guide us to digest this narrative using time as a competent example.

To understand how the concept of understanding has evolved particularly in the world of logical propositions, logic has it that the word “exist” can be used in a timeless sense in three phases namely; what “exist” now, what “once existed” in the past and what will come to “exist” in the future.

Whether this has been true, is now or never will be, is determined by the movements of propositions becoming true as all propositions turn out to be Omni-temporary true or false.
In one of the conversations with other students, we argued whether time does exist or not, surprisingly, one student philosophically argued, that everything is imaginable and that includes time. Another said the understanding that time exist in a linear fashion does not hold logic but rather that it is our very own understanding of time that is linear.
That is where we diverted as far as what “understanding” meant.

Human perception of time in a linear fashion does not make time linear. What is linear here is not time itself but human perceptions. Time is an independent variable whereas our understanding of time is dependent on our cultures, religions, and varies in accordance to our geographical locations on earth. Understanding is a logical interpretation of the order and the meaning of propositions either literally or figuratively.

Understanding is a state of cognisance that help us to digest conversations in a comprehensible manner. If one cannot understand a proposition, there is likely to be misunderstandings as understanding means to grasp the order of meaning and reason.
For example, In Africa, the understanding of time is a western interpretation of the meaning with the order of time notoriously understood in things such as seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries.

The use of the Gregorian Calendar/Western calendar in Africa is one example that effectually influenced our understanding of the order of the phenomenon of time.

Reflectively, our understandings and misunderstandings of certain state of affairs do not imply the impossibility of such state of affairs or any other possible state of affairs.
There was a time when our ancestors understood that the earth was not round, this misguided perception is no longer valid as modern scientific literacy has proved the possibility of the earth being round.

Yet, the understanding of the impossibility of the possibility of the earth being spherical was in no way limited by our ancestor’s inability to comprehend it.

The changeability of truth-values also contributes to our understanding of the state of affairs. For instance “if it is true now that you will do A tomorrow then tomorrow when you do A you are not choosing to do A, you are not responsible for doing it, you are doing it because it was destined that you should do it”.

But on the other hand, this argument’s literal interpretation puts the cart before the horse because it is not a proposition’s being true which make us do something tomorrow.
It is rather that our doing something tomorrow accounts for the proposition, which ascribes that particular action to us tomorrow.

The poverty of understanding is a concern in a public discourse and needs sharp discussions and a good amount of critical intelligence in order to radically change the distorted versions imposed upon specific societies and create new logical understandings devoid of western influence that create false consciousness of universal laws of nature and social existence.

• Shivute Kaapanda is a critical theorist from Eyanda village.


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