There are 2 types of knowledge:
- Knowledge of the ‘head’
- Knowledge of the ‘heart’
‘Knowledge of the head’ is what we typically think of as “knowledge”. Something like 1 + 1 = 2.
What’s “knowledge of the heart”?
Knowledge of The Heart
Imagine an obese, 50-year-old, alcoholic named John. John “knows” a piece of knowledge: “he will die one day.” He even understands that he’s expected to live for only 10 or so more years (not being the healthiest person). Yet, he ate fast food every day and exercised once every 3 months; he “acted” as if he would live forever.
One day, he gets diagnosed with cancer. The doctor tells him that he only has a few years left. All of the sudden, he stops eating fast food. He quits alcohol. He starts working out..
What happened? didn’t change much, at all! He already “knew” that he is going to die. Did he learn something new? No. But he finally understood, from the ‘heart’, that he’s going to die.
That day, when the doctor told him about his mortality, the ‘knowledge of the head’ became the ‘knowledge of the heart’.
‘Knowledge of the heart’ isn’t simply understanding, but beyond. It “hits deep”; it registers on an emotional level. It changes the way we act. Because we follow our hearts. Our emotions are powerful signals; reason is nothing compared to emotions.
Your entire worldview changes. Everything seems to affirm that “truth”. As a feminist, you see patriarchy everywhere; as an anti-feminist, you see feminism everywhere. As a communist, you see capitalist exploitation everywhere; as a capitalist, you see communist destruction everywhere.
Remember: ‘knowledge of the heart’ is powerful. Dangerously powerful.
- If the knowledge is “true”, it turns you into a superhero.
- If the knowledge is “false”, it turns you into a supervillan.
If a person truly believes that zebras are the “root of all evil”, and it registers emotionally, he would go kill all zebras.
Look at history, the most terrifying people were those who had false ‘knowledge of the heart’, most in the form of “these people are evil, therefore…”
The problem is that we don’t get to choose what becomes the ‘knowledge of the heart’. Something clicks, and boom, it’s there. By the way, you already believe it to be true. And not just “kind of” true; it would feel more true than anything else. The emotional signal is so strong, and the evidence is so “obvious”, that even questioning it seems like a waste of time.
But, you have to question them. Or else, it’s only a matter of time until you become completely delusional.
The knowledge has already become part of you. Nobody else can convince you. At that point, it’s only up to you to question the “truths”.
Yes, it’s difficult. But, it’s the only way: attack your ideas. As hard as you can.
“Really? Is that so?”
Good news: the harder you challenge the ideas, and they don’t break, the more ‘robust’ they are, the more likely they are ‘truths’. The more true an idea is, the less you need to protect it.
For most ideas…they’re not actually obvious. They seem obvious because you’ve only understood 1 chain of logic (clearly). You’ve been attacking the other chains this whole time.
Where ‘Knowledge of the Heart’ Comes From
Most of them come from direct experiences.
Most of the time, you have to do the things to know that they’re stupid. You have to buy the things to know that they’re not what you truly wanted. They’re mostly regrets.
Others come from indirect experiences.
Some of them are observations. You see other people through their lives and get the realizations.
Some of them are stories, from those who have made the mistakes themselves. Though, we often fail to internalize them (into the heart) because the stories don’t leave big impressions, unlike direct experiences.
I usually don’t listen to advice.1They’re usually very abstract, which means they’re very contextual(personal). The chance of somebody’s advice matching my circumstances is extremely low; if that’s the case, my path isn’t unique enough.But the ones I do listen to, are mostly regrets.
Wisdom(advice) in the form of “don’t do” is much more likely to be right (for me) than those in the form of “do”. In a world of infinite options, via negativa makes better sense.
Because the wiser decision leaves fewer regrets;
Because wisdom comes from regrets,
I listen to those who have many regrets.
Questions & comments are welcome!