24 June 2017

What are the differences among wisdom, knowledge, and skill?

Wisdom is about discernment. Discerning the right and wrong, the truth and lies, the benefits and harms, the intentions of the heart. Then it takes boldness or gut or courage to do the right things and punish the wrongs.

Knowledge is about knowing the facts and knowing the how to. How do things work? What are the causes and effects? What are the solutions? Identifying the problems come from wisdom. Deciding the harms and benefits from the solutions of knowledge come from wisdom. Tangibles belong to knowledge intangibles needs wisdom.

What then is a skill? Wisdom relates to the heart, knowledge relates to the mind, and skill relates to the body. I know the theory of music, the keys of pianos, but to play a beautiful piece of music, I need to practice on the pianos for hours and days to have the skill to play a good song.

So what?

Well, an engineer could be a very bad technician. He may be able to design a new air-cond but can't repair one. An educated Ph.D. may be a crook or a spoiled brat. So we can understand what is happening to people behavior and most of all, always try to discern the intentions of people and their values.

Confucius' teaching, summarized in 弟子规:
弟子规 ,圣人训: 首孝弟, 次谨信 。泛爱众 ,而亲仁 。有余力。则学文.

Get wisdom first, trained the heart to honor and love, then train the brain to get knowledge and then the body to get the skills to work productively.

Now we can see the problem of our modern education system. It inverts the order, teaching knowledge and skills first, and leaving wisdom as supplementary with little time given to its teaching.

Lim Liat (c) 24 June 2017
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