About being stupid

George Pruteanu had a show on TV. At one time, he spoke about a letter he received, in which he was praised for being “wise”.

I think he mentioned something like this as a reply:

“He that knows not,
and knows not that he knows not
is a fool.
Shun him

He that knows not,
and knows  that he knows not
is a pupil.
Teach him.

He that knows,
and knows not that he knows
is asleep
Wake him.

He that knows,
and knows that he knows
is a teacher.
Follow him.”

(Arabic proverb)

NEIGHBOUR R (1992) The Inner Apprentice London; Kluwer Academic Publishers. p.xvii (Source)

He said that he has found specific words in certain industries of which he knows little about. So, there are words in the dictionary which are only vaguely familiar to him. As a youngster, he used to read a book and underline unfamiliar words. He read a book at an older age, and found out more words were unfamiliar to him at the older age, because at that time he had more requirements from himself. Thus, he said, he only now knew that he doesn’t know much.

My thoughts on this:

  • You can’t know well every word in a dictionary. It’s an impossible task. George Pruteanu was a linguist, yet no one in this world can truly understand 100,000 words. You can only know a few things of most of them.
  • Even if you do know well a specific field, you are still an amateur in a dozen other fields.
  • I still think that, for creativity purposes, one person should know a small number of things from a lot of fields.
  • If you want to know whether you’re wise or not, it suffice to find out what you know in different fields.

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