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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2007

    Default I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff

    I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff

    I claim that comprehending is a hierarchy and can usefully be thought of as a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is awareness that is followed by consciousness, which is awareness plus attention. Knowing follows consciousness and understanding is at the pinnacle of the pyramid.

    Two aspects of this comprehension idea deserve elaboration: consciousness and understanding.

    When I was a youngster, probably seven or eight, my father took me with him when he drove to a local farm to pick corn for use in the café the family managed. We drove for a significant amount of time down local dirt roads to a farm with a field of growing corn.

    We went into the fields with our bushel baskets and filled them with corn-on-the-cob. Dad showed me how to choose the corn to pick and how to snatch the cob from the stalk.

    On the drive home I was amazed to observe the numerous fields of corn we passed on the way back to town. I can distinctly remember thinking to myself, why did I not see these fields of corn while we were driving to the farm earlier?

    Today I have an answer to that question. I now say that on the way to the farm I was aware of corn-on-the-cob but on the way back home I was conscious of corn-on-the-cob. There was a very significant difference in my perceptions regarding corn-on-the-cob before and after the experience.

    We are aware of many things but conscious of only a small number of things. We were aware of Iraq before the war but now we are conscious of Iraq. There is a very important distinction between awareness and consciousness and it is important for us to recognize this difference.

    To be conscious of a matter signifies a focus of the intellect. Consciousness of a matter is the first step, which may lead to an understanding of the matter. Consciousness of a matter is a necessary condition for knowing and for understanding of that matter. Consciousness is a necessary but not sufficient condition for knowing and understanding to take place.

    When discussing a topic about which I am knowledgeable most people will, because they recognize the words I am using, treat the matter as old stuff. They recognize the words therefore they consider the matter as something they already know and do not consider as important. Because they are aware of the subject it is difficult to gain their attention when I attempt to go beyond the shallowness of their perception. The communication problem seems to be initially overcoming their awareness and reaching consciousness.

    Understanding is a long step beyond knowing. Understanding is the creation of meaning. Understanding represents a rare instance when intellection and emotion join hands and places me in an empathetic position with a domain of knowledge. When I understand I have connected the dots and have created a unity that includes myself. I have created something that is meaningful, which means that I have placed that domain of knowledge within my domain that I call my self. I understand because I have a very intimate connection with a model of reality that I have created. It is that eureka moment that happens rarely but is a moment of ecstasy. As Carl Sagan says “understanding is a kind of ecstasy”.

    When I read I almost always read non fiction. I have tried to read fiction and to learn from reading what is considered to be good literature. However, my effort to read good literature fails because I thing that learning by reading good literature is a very inefficient means for gaining knowledge and understanding.

    I claim that I can acquire more knowledge in one hour by reading non fiction than I can while reading good literature for ten hours. That is, I claim that learning by reading non fiction is ten times more efficient than learning by reading fiction, i.e. good literature.

    Do you agree that acquiring knowledge by reading non fiction is ten times as efficient as from reading fiction?

  2. #2


    I didn't have you particular experiences, but I agree with most of that post, so I have little to add.

    For me, as I learn more about how the technology we interact with is made (and find out how many of the choices are made), I actually feel that people who complain about these machines are being designed by idiots (w/ advanced degrees) is more correct than incorrect.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  3. #3
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff
    [in sarcastic tone...]

    Bad consumer! You should just buy stuff, not try to comprehend it!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    [in sarcastic tone...]

    Bad consumer! You should just buy stuff, not try to comprehend it!
    I sometimes go to and just buy something to comprehend.

  5. #5
    Senior Member INTJMom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff ...
    Hi. I'm just testing out my type guessing skills. Would you happen to be an INTP?

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