The Hierarchy of Knowledge & Truth

Suffice it to say I have had the “fortune” to have learned more than my fair share of important, hard lessons firsthand. On top of that, I have had the “opportune” position to watch my peers do the same in even more spectacular fashions. As a result of these first and secondhand perspectives, I wholeheartedly feel that learning from one’s experiences and subsequent missteps, shortcomings, and mistakes made along the way is a critical part of both personal and societal development.

That being said, I don’t believe that these lessons must always be learned the hard way. In nearly each and every one of my personal blunders, as well as those I have witnessed or had confided in me, the mistakes made were not in their inaugural debut. Therefore, I postulate it should have been possible to potentially have avoided these mistakes, or at the very least have decreased the magnitudes of their ramifications.

I feel that as a society we habitually add undue friction to the process of finding truth and understanding by missing opportunities to better learn lessons along the way. To make things even worse we often misinterpret these lessons due to the limitations of our individual contexts as well as our subsequently biased perspectives. Needless to say, I feel this to be one of the most tremendous detriments to human potential. Yet if we become better at scaling on the experiences of both our predecessors and peers we stand to not only accelerate the journey to our goals, but also increase the efficiency with which we effectively reach them. Therefore, making sense of the myriad of information available (in the aptly named age we live in) is the key to doing more faster with less.

The problem thus becomes [both effective & efficient] mass information transfer that results in understanding. Basically, how can one bestow upon others a richness and depth of explanation that allows it to resonate just as true in another?…so much so that it becomes a gutturally embraced truth to them as well?

As a student of both the world and Maslow I have come to believe that hierarchies are a powerful tool for making sense and order of the cacophony of variables that comprise our reality. Consequently, I have codified what I believe to be a contextually optimal way of looking at how we learn and gain understanding with the Hierarchy of Knowledge & Truth:

Theory is a postulate of thought.
Knowledge is empirical experience produced by personal actions.
Wisdom is a compounding of knowledge into sense.
Insight is clarity distilled through layers of wisdom.
An Epiphany is an internal actualization of the real truth.

When this hierarchy is represented mathematically we can begin to realize the power of communicating at particular levels of the hierarchy in order to bridge the communication gaps we are all too often faced with in the information age:

Theory= Thought1 + Thought2 +Thought3
Knowledge= Theory x Action
Wisdom= Knowledge1 x Knowledge2
Insight= (Wisdom1 x Wisdom2)1/n
Epiphany= Insight1 + Insight2 + Insight3

Upon inspection of the throughputs and their magnitudes there is vastly superior information density at the bottom of the funnel. Therefore it is advantageous to aim for effective communication of insights, especially rich insights with a large magnitude of both distillation (n) and compounded wisdom. By communicating in this fashion we increase the propensity for epiphanies, which are unique in the fact that they are extraordinarily difficult to transfer in full translation due to being built upon massive foundations of individually internalized information.

It is important to note the pivotal nature of context and nuance, which are more likely to be lost in translation at the bottom of the funnel. That is unless key pieces of the prerequisite distillate are properly understood by the receiver. Think of it this way: have you ever heard an adage or idiom that never quite made perfect sense until specific experiences made it evermore relatable and consequently pertinent to you?

Context also necessitates making a concerted effort avoid false truths by filtering through bias or opinions as they are often misattributions that can distort the truth. The best way to remedy this shortcoming is to gather multiple perspectives in order to better discern the truth signal from the noise caused by the contextual shortsightedness and other inherent limitations derived from our personal experiences.

Socratic mindfulness forces you to challenge assumptions when it comes to one’s experiences (and the subsequent wisdom gleaned), increasing the likelihood of a true epiphany in lieu of the embracing of false truths. So isn’t it about time we started to question why we believe the things we do in order to better understand the true nature of our reality?