In this ongoing exploration of knowledge, the time has come for me to offer an explanation of what I mean by an interpretive grid, that perhaps rather nebulous thing that seems to come between the individual and the cosmos. The following is an attempt to answer the fourth question raised in response to my original question about knowledge. Links to previous discussions are provided below.
4. What is an interpretive grid and what does it do to the raw data? Is there a non-metaphorical way of talking about the “cooking” of the raw data? Perhaps more importantly, if there is “cooking” going on, what is the nature of our access to IT (the cooking)? Do we watch it happening? Infer that it is happening? If we watch it, what does it “look” like? If we infer it, from what premises?
By interpretive grid I mean that collection of beliefs, experiences, desires, dispositions, and propensities to act which determine the manner in which an individual thinks about and responds to external inputs and data. The interpretive grid determines the categories with which an individual might collect and sort the data he receives. It enables him to see and/or understand things as such-and-such; it is the means by which raw input is ordered and interacted with by the individual.
It seems that the operation of the individual’s interpretive grid on the raw data is observable, to some degree at least. Through introspection, a person can take stock of many of his beliefs, desires, and dispositions and analyze the ways in which those beliefs are operating on the new data which is being presented to him. However, the interpretive grid does not seem to be completely accessible to the individual because some portion of it is in use as long as the individual is thinking, experiencing, analyzing, or observing. The means by which an individual interprets the world is a part of him, a part of his thinking, analyzing, and understanding and must be turned in on itself in the act of introspection.
The problem created by the existence of the interpretive grid is not that it necessarily bars one from knowing the truth about the world, however it does seem to bar one from knowing that he has true beliefs. In other words, the individual cannot compare his beliefs about X as such-and-such with X itself; he does not have access to the thing itself due to the mediation of his beliefs, dispositions, etc. which arise between his self and the object. This seems to create a situation in which the individual is tragically isolated from all other things, imprisoned behind a grid that at best is a very clear window, and at worst is a wall of stone through which no light can peek.
Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush: Foundational Principles of Knowledge
1. Mulberry Pickin’s: The Relationship Between Being Foundational and Being Unassailable
2. Mulling on Mulberries: The Significance of Differences in Belief Among Intelligent People
3. What’s A Mulberry (To You)?: The Limits of Perspective on Obtaining Objective Truth