I have been considering a concept of late, which i call directed statements. These are descriptions of future states of the world; they are directed in that they represent a vector of sorts, one that begins here & now and ends in a future state of the world. There are many kinds of such directed statements: desires, hopes, faiths, goals, oughts & shoulds.
One very important subset of directed statements are those that are true, which i define as possible, attainable future states of the world. These statements i call directed knowledge. They have, i believe, a very special and important property: insofar as they are true, when we accept them as such they rearrange our basic picture of the world, correcting it, and thereby showing us how to attain that future state starting from where we are here & now.
As such, directed knowledge is a leverage point in the future from which we can lift ourselves into new & better people. This knowledge of what could be is a mechanism of the world, a force within human beings which we can use to become the people we would not otherwise have been able to become. It is also my attempt to translate the salvific power of the Christian’s faith that e is already saved.
How can one know that a directed statement is true, hence directed knowledge? Some such statements can be verified by the natural sciences. For example, we can be quite certain that the sun will come out tomorrow, barring very large asteroids or some horrible oversight in the theory of gravitation. However, most of the statements about the future provided by science are regrettably not of immediate import to our lives. Moreover, the important ones have mostly been already incorporated into our basic pictures of the world (the ever re-rising sun certainly has). Only those directed statements are useful to us that are novel and which we have to be accepted, thereby changing our world pictures. So we must look for a different way of finding true directed statements.
Another category of such true statements are those that have been verified not through science but through other people’s lives. If a statement has worked for enough people in the past, we can be (almost) sure it will work for us now. That you can overcome your harmful instincts and emotions and learn to control them is such a tried and true statement, verified over and over again by the sages of the world and many another successful and happy soul. This is truly directed knowledge, and if accepted by anyone, will transform how e* sees the world and lives within it. Hence, directed knowledge is certainly amenable to experimental verification, though usually of a more practical than scientific nature.
(Good directed knowledge is clearly another important and further subset of directed statements, one which can be defined as possible & desirable future states of the world. Of course, there are many, usually conflicting, ways to define what is desirable, and perhaps none that will ever be entirely satisfactory. For my part, i have settled on that which you truly want in the long run and all things considered. This definition only applies to individuals in the context of an ethics, and probably cannot be fruitfully extended to groups, let alone the planet, that is, to politics. Good directed knowledge might not therefore be a very useful concept on its own as it is nothing more than the conjunction of two otherwise very useful ideas: directed knowledge and the good.)
* For more information on the non-gendered third person singular pronoun “e” see here.