Meek's Loving to Know: Knowledge as Transformation

This is the third post I've written about Esther Nightcap Meek's book Loving to Know: Covenant Epistemology. The other posts I've written can be found here and here.


The second part of Meek's book is entitled "Transformation." The two chapters within it are entitled "Knowing as Subsidiary-Focal Integration" and "Knowing as Transformation." In a nutshell, she advocates that any act of knowing—the key epistemological moment, as it were—is not simply moving information around but rather a transformative event in which the knower organizes their perceived clues into a coherent whole to which they submit as a token of reality. Put another way, knowing is the "aha!" moment when the parts reassemble themselves into a pattern which itself points to something deeper and greater. The transformation occurs as the knower opens themselves up to the possibilities this pattern invokes and begins to live in light of them.

A frequent example Meek uses will be helpful here. Learning to drive can be a challenging experience. When you first sat behind the wheel of a car, everything felt odd. The gear shift stuck out way too far, the brake and accelerator pedals were too close to each other, and the steering wheel felt like a rubber inner tube. These are all the clues on which we focus, which truly constitute necessary information for driving the car, but knowing how to drive has not yet occurred. Knowing how to drive occurs later: After diligent practice your mind reorganized these distinct pieces into a coherent pattern, which you used successfully to practice and then navigate the test. But it doesn't stop there. You , the driver, are transformed as this knowledge opens up to a world of possibilities. Not only can you drive around the block to pass the driving test, you can drive across town to see a friend or even across the country. This epistemological event transforms you as you embrace new possibilities arising from your newfound knowledge.

This is the basic paradigm for knowing, drawn from Michael Polanyi and James Loder, that Meek advocates. Further clarification and expansion will follow in subsequent chapters as she develops her own spin with covenant epistemology. More to come as I continue to read.