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To realize the difference

  1. Jul 5, 2009 #1
    Who is the wiser: they who realize what they know, or they who realize what they don't know?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2009 #2
    Is it possible to realize what one knows without distinguishing it from what one doesn't know? I don't really see how wisdom is derived directly from knowledge, but rather from the insightful application of knowledge.
     
  4. Jul 6, 2009 #3
    Thanks, Huckleberry.

    IMO, to realize what one knows involves enjoyment of wisdom at the intersection of reality and knowledge, while to realize what one doesn't know involves criticism by wisdom at the disjunction of reality and knowledge.

    This definition is more intuitive than rigorous. Definitely.
     
  5. Jul 6, 2009 #4
    In the learning process as in the field of research, both are needed and follow one another in time. This being said, it remains to clarify what you mean by "wise". Etymologically, the side of the process presented in your first proposition seemed to be favored. Practically, the two step process described above seems to me does happen linearly. We can identify easily the borders of our knowledge (extensive development) but we only achieve genuinely new knowledge rarely (intensive development). This also seems to attribute more value to intensive development (they who realize what they know).
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2009
  6. Jul 7, 2009 #5

    russ_watters

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    That implies a dichotomy where I don't think one exists, however...

    I've seen studies (we've discussed them here before - I'll see if I can find one...) where it has been shown that there is a direct corellation between intelligence and acceptance of ignorance. In other words, the smarter a person is, the more likely they are to realize what they don't know.
     
  7. Jul 7, 2009 #6
    An individual who realizes the boundaries of his knowledge would be in a better position to push those boundaries of knowledge further and lessen his ignorance on a particular subject(s). Like Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry) once said 'A man must know his limitations'. :smile:

    I think realizing what you know should gradually lead to realizing what you do not know. There seems to always be a boundary to push or a fact that may be misunderstood with respect to a particular subject.
     
  8. Jul 7, 2009 #7

    apeiron

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    Wisdom may best be operationally defined as generalisation - the forgetting of particulars so as to extract the universal principles.

    So the wise will know the rules and know that they don't know the particular details. But also know they have to gather those particulars to animate the rules.
     
  9. Jul 7, 2009 #8
    If there is a volume of the amount knowledge, then the associated ignorance should be defined as the surface of its border. That's how learning extends the amount of our ignorance.
     
  10. Jul 7, 2009 #9

    DaveC426913

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    It is comparatively easy to realize what you know. Imagine a tinsmith who knows everything about tinning, but is virtually ignorant of everythoing not tin-related.

    The set of things one does not know is always going to be much, much larger than the set of things one does know, therefore he who realizes what he does not know, knows more.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2009
  11. Jul 7, 2009 #10

    apeiron

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    But are wisdom and knowledge (and even intelligence) all synonymous?

    I think the words do try to get at actual subtle distinctions. So again, wisdom would be the process of generalisation - the forgetting of particulars. Intelligence by constrast would be the making of particular connections (applying rules rather than forming them). Knowledge is the accumulation of particulars. Useful if you don't want to have to look details up all the time, but not part of wisdom-making - except to the degree they are being forgotten (or generalised).

    Another way of looking at these distinctions is in the neural dichotomy, attention-habit.

    Wisdom is about generalisation and so the shifting of as much of thought to a habitual level. A wise person just knows what to do from long experience and finds actions automatic.

    Intelligence is instead attentive thought. It is making those particular connections for the first time. Novelty processing.

    Knowledge is a store of particulars you feel you have in memory that can be recalled to attentive awareness for particular use.
     
  12. Jul 8, 2009 #11
    It seems to me that you are asking a simple question. Socrates who said to be once the most wise/intelligent/smart/cunning/knowledgeable(Surly you cant have one of those traits without the other) man said:
    and
     
  13. Jul 8, 2009 #12

    DaveC426913

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    Logical fallacy: appeal to authority.
     
  14. Jul 8, 2009 #13
    Logical fallacy or not I think the story of The Oracle of Delphi is applicable here. I believe that is what Willowz is referring to? It was bound to be referenced anyway.

    I'm still trying to figure out what false clams are.
     
  15. Jul 8, 2009 #14

    DaveC426913

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    Yeah, it's just that it seems kind of circular. Loren is asking the very question that the story is about; it seems her question is directly inspired by it, or at least the adage "The only thing I truly know is that I know nothing." It seems answernig the question with the answer that inpsired the question would not likely satisfy her. I'm presuming she is looking for an argument by logical reasoning.


    :rolleyes:
     
  16. Jul 8, 2009 #15
    ...and die like poor Socrates? No thank's. "Authority" has a misconception that it knows all and should not be reasoned with.
    As for logical reasoning. I think the answer of this question is in Socrates life and teachings.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2009
  17. Jul 8, 2009 #16
    I had thought the same thing, but it might be helpful for others besides Loren to be aware of the story. I'm not sure there is an absolute answer to be had here. I think the benefits are the consequences of asking oneself the question. Loren's question invites us to question ourselves. Hopefully people don't read the story and think that because Socrates said it then it must be wise. (appeal to authority) That would be missing the point entirely.

    I know. So bad, right? :biggrin:
     
  18. Jul 8, 2009 #17
    The first is a contradiction that cannot exist because it is impossible to realize that one knows something, because the brain is fallible. There is no way to verify that one's thoughts are logical because your entire perception of the world is presented to you by your thoughts. Technically speaking, your vision, your psychiatrist, your entire life could be a hallucination. You might think that 1+1=2, but you do not truly know this even though it is a purely mathematical statement, because your brain could be incorrectly recalling the rules of mathematics. For example, I have had dreams where I was doing mathematics and had basic principles such as addition perceived incorrectly in my dream-state.

    It is possible to realize what one does not know, because knowing something implies a level of confidence in the information. Therefore, a person with low confidence in everything can realize that they do not know anything. For example, they could realize that they do not know if it is possible to realize that one does not know something...

    In my opinion a wise person is one who can make good decisions or determine truth in difficult situations -- a wise person is not simply someone who has memorized a lot of facts (although memorization of facts may be useful for making good decisions).

    In order to make good decisions, one must be able to predict the outcomes of their decisions. To predict the outcomes, one must have knowledge of the current state, which implies a method for storing and perceiving knowledge because it is impossible to make predictions without knowing a current state. These are the components of wisdom.
     
  19. Jul 8, 2009 #18

    DaveC426913

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    Oh puh-leeze.:uhh: The old you-can't-trust-anytihng-you-see-or-hear-because-it-could-be-an-illusion argument.
     
  20. Jul 9, 2009 #19
    For the sake of the story. The Oracle of Delphi was regarded as an omniscience being. Out of the boundaries of the word "authority".
     
  21. Jul 9, 2009 #20

    DaveC426913

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    How do you figure? The logical fallacy 'Appeal to authority' simply means 'this entity said X is true, therefore you should think so too'. The only requirement of the entity is that they are perceived to know more than you do about the subject i.e they are an authority on the subject.
     
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