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Jul 27, 2019 21:51:04

Doing X for understanding, but what is understanding for?

by @5plus6 | 256 words | 🐣 | 239💌


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Recently, my two big aha share in common structure: doing X for understanding.

  • Reading for understanding.
  • Writing for understanding.

But after aha moments, there are questions left.

  • What is understanding for? 
  • How to understand and be understood? 
  • Exploration or exploitation, which one helps me understand better?


Today,  The Multidisciplinary Approach to Thinking by Peter Kaufman suddenly hits me:

To understand is to know what to do.’ 
Could there be anything that sounds simpler than that? And yet it’s a genius line, to understand is to know what to do. How many mistakes do you make when you understand something? You don’t make any mistakes. Where do mistakes come from? They come from blind spots, a lack of understanding.  
Why do you need to be multidisciplinary in your thinking? Because as the Japanese proverb says, ‘The frog in the well knows nothing of the mighty ocean.’ You may know everything there is to know about your specialty, your silo, your “well”, but how are you going to make any good decisions in life…the complex systems of life, the dynamic system of life…if all you know is one well?

So back to the three questions in the beginning:

  • What is understanding for? 

   -  Making good decisions in life.

  • How to understand and be understood? 

   -  Be a multidisciplinary thinker, be open.

  • Exploration or exploitation, which one helps me understand better?

   -  Exploration. Jump out of your 'well'.

  • 1

    @5plus6 - I resonate with this topic. The nuance is not quite there for me.

    e.g. How many mistakes do you make when you understand something?

    It’s easy to come up with simple-language counter examples.

    I know not to burn the food. I got distracted. I know not to eat or drink too much. I still make mistakes.

    I know sleep is important, yet I’m awake - made a mistake with the eating or drinking or scheduling.

    Now, if by understand, you mean to understand the ‘dynamic systems’ effecting us AND understand exactly how to operate this human machine we inhabit - then maybe we’re getting closer. I just don’t understand that deeply.

    Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Jul 27, 2019 07:26:20
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      @brianball -I think much of our unhappiness comes from "know it but don't understand it".
      - "know it" is a 0-1 issue, neither black or white.
      - "understand it" is the mixture of black and white, it's grey.

      I like the criminal mentality. I know I won't commit a crime in my life (till now), and I know why and how the murder killed the poor victim from the news. But I want to understand more, the grey areas.
      Most of the rule-breakers know the rule (e.g. killing is illegal), but don't understand how to solve the problem more properly.
      If we could understand human, such a complex dynamic system, other than being satisfied with knowing "that's right, that's bad", the world would be a better place.

      5plus6 avatar 5plus6 | Jul 28, 2019 17:47:00
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      @5plus6 - I subscribe to the idea that our unhappiness is thinking what is ( reality ) should be different ( hopes and dreams ).

      The easiest way to change the world is to stop thinking it needs to be changed. The reason better doesn't make sense is because of TIME. With each second, the world is what it is. A river. You can't step into the same river twice because the river you had stepped into is now downstream, further along. The world you see now is simply not the same world you'd compare it to.

      The 5plus6 after reading this is not the same as the 5plus6 before reading it.

      A visual example:

      1 + 2 = 3

      Can I make 1 + 2 better?

      Can I make 3 better?

      1 + 1 + 1 = 3 ( is that better ) is 1 + 1 better than 2? Is having to use + twice better?

      When I change something, I'm not making it better, I'm making it different. The only thing that can be better is our perception of a thing.

      200words with the new event updates on the side is not a better 200words -- though an individual may have a experience. To a person who doesn't use the site, they just aren't the same thing.

      Killing -- is an interesting example. It's a crime. Unless the people who make the rules do it.

      Best to make up the rules. No? At least then you have options.

      Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Jul 28, 2019 07:28:07
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      @brianball - I remained this page open in my browser, there are words to say but I couldn't organize my ideas well now.

      5plus6 avatar 5plus6 | Jul 29, 2019 23:25:12
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      "When I change something, I'm not making it better, I'm making it different."
      This line hit me and I got two day's reflection.

      I've been out of my comfort zone to think more "big" questions for a while, I read, think, and write (though not very much), but the fact is that I still "just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back" (from Charlie Munger).
      So if someone or some question got me, the only thing I could do is to squeeze out some pieces from the memory of my reading, but I can't have them together as my answer.
      It makes me upset.

      My reflection: I want to control myself in a micro-level, making changes has exhausted me. Every day is a new day, but I only happy for it's a better day.
      Thanks for your insightful words.

      5plus6 avatar 5plus6 | Jul 31, 2019 15:11:25
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      @5plus6 - maybe allow your margins to be percentages of success. E.g. - control a thing within a range. Know that some days, unknown and unknowable variables play a role.

      For example, instead of trying to write 200 words every day at 5pm. Say you'll write between 200 - 250 words between 4pm and 6pm. This margin for error doesn't mean you're making errors. It means you're being realistic.

      Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Jul 31, 2019 08:21:27
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      @brianball -Can't express how appreciated I am for your great advice.

      Could this be an open discussion for my updateing experience?

      It seems that I'm trapped in "silence of aha": too many aha moments to express my feelings. I'm learning and growing from these aha, but I become kind of speechless.

      Thank you again.

      5plus6 avatar 5plus6 | Aug 02, 2019 00:01:40
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      @5plus6 - take your time.

      Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Aug 01, 2019 13:00:22
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