By Bob Acebedo | Published: November 21, 2020
The Persian apothegm, “Men Are Four”, succinctly goes:
“He who knows not and knows not that he knows not – he is fool, shun him;
He who knows not and knows that he knows not – he is simple, teach him;
He who knows and knows not that he knows – he is asleep, wake him;
He who knows and knows that he knows – he is wise, follow him.”
This apothegm tells us of the four classes of people – not excluding ourselves – that we ought to avoid, teach or extend a hand to, awaken or inspire, or follow so that we can act accordingly.
- The fool: Those who are ignorant but do not realize or admit their ignorance; those who claim (or, worse, boast) to “know” but in reality they don’t; they are the “unconscious incompetent”. We should shun them, or avoid being counted among them.
- The simple: Those who are ignorant but admit or realize their ignorance; they are the “conscious incompetent.” We should teach them, or if we ourselves are in this category, we should be willing to be taught.
- The fast asleep: They’re not ignorant, but they have yet to discover or realize their potential; they are the “unconscious competent.” We should awaken them, or perhaps ourselves, in order to discover and develop whatever potential there is among us.
- The wise: Those who know and are discerning enough in using or exercising what they know. We should follow them, or we should aspire to be one of them and be able to lead others by example.
A Far Greater Thing
Distinctively, knowledge is one thing, but wisdom is a far greater thing.
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; but wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”
In sum, knowledge is the acquisition of facts and information; but wisdom is discerning and acting appropriately according to what we know.
Let us aim for wisdom, not just knowledge.