Knowing is never enough

We consume thousands of books, documentaries, articles, compelling social media posts, and advice from people wiser than us.

But learning is never enough.  Knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.

So the question my friends, every time you learn something significant, is:  what are you going to start (or stop) doing?

3 thoughts on “Knowing is never enough

  1. I’m not sure about this. It is understandable that we look down on those who lose themselves in contemplation, inaction, analysis-paralysis so to speak. Over 200 years ago Edmund Burke famously said, “All that’s required for evil to conquer, is for good men to do nothing,” I agree. However, in today’s world, I think we have the opposite problem, too much action, not enough “self knowledge”. The transition from “Know thyself” to Nike’s “Just Do It” is complete. Our culture has embraced its obsession with instant self-gratification, afforded to us by faster technologies and power structures, as a virtue to be cultivated,…….when really it’s a ego-driven disease which is growing unchecked. Edmund Burke was correct, especially in his day, but now we have good men and women doing, doing, doing, frantically working, driven to “so-called pleasure”,….and rarely stopping to think rationally about what’s motivating all the action, whether it’s actually good or bad……and then conditioning/socializing/shaming each other into to do the same. “Know thyself” is ridiculed as “contemplating ones navel”, and the “man of action” is glorified first, before the virtue of the action is considered. This is more true today in the 21st century than ever before.

    Here I quote Erich Fromm: “Our contemporary Western society, in spite of its material, intellectual and political progress is increasingly less conducive to mental health, and tends to undermine the inner security, happiness, reason, and the capacity for love in the individual; it tends to turn him into an automaton who pays for his human failure with increasing mental sickness, and with despair hidden under a frantic drive for work and so-called pleasure.”

    1. You raise very good points Rob. The “knowing” I mention is intended in a much less philosophical and spiritual in nature than you’re reading it. I’m not advocating action over contemplation. I’m simply taking a stance on the old “knowledge is power” line, and saying it should be “application of knowledge is power”.

      Knowledge, not contemplation. Learning (acquiring knowledge) and then applying it is more important than just consuming information.

      If you “know” from watching the Fed Up documentary (for example) that sugar is dangerously unhealthy for human consumption, but continue to consume 100+ grams per day, it’s consequentially the same as not knowing. And you and your doctor will be discussing how to apply that knowledge during your first conversation about managing your new life with diabetes.

  2. Good clarification, and good example of a case in which knowledge without action is folly. This sugar think is driving me nuts. Absolutely you’re right about that one. Incredible how addictive it is. I just read a very good book on addiction called “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” and wrote this review:

    I’m concerned that many people I know are following a script, living with no contemplation or self-knowledge whatsoever. After reading this book, I’m convinced that many of them are actually “addicted” to the script because it makes them feel good in the short term, but may actually be doing more harm in the long term. They seem to be highly resistant to slowing down and asking the question: “Is this really a good way to live?” The obsessive accumulation of wealth and “respect” is a compulsion, not a conscious choice based on reflection, just like a drug.

    Funny, as soon as my 10-year-old daughter came home from school today, she told me about how the teacher explained that some people are nouns and some people are verbs. Then, she recited the three examples he gave, all of which showed the nouns in a negative light and the verbs in a positive light.

    I guess I still think that modern man suffers from way too much thoughtless action, not from too much actionless thought…… least this is the case with the people that I know, who are constantly saying, “I’m too busy,” which you already addressed very well in a previous blog entry of course.

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