The Daily Stoic for May 19th. “Learn, Practice, Train”
“That’s why the philosophers warn us not to be satisfied with mere learning, but to add practice and then training. For as time passes we forget what we learned and end up doing the opposite, and hold opinions the opposite of what we should.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.9.13–14
While it’s true that education means freedom, there’s also the flip side of the coin. There are people who are constantly reading and learning but without really experiencing what they learn.
Now, we are not guilty of that. This is the way we’ve been raised and educated. At least, in western countries.
Do you remember when you were in school and you had to learn all the names of the rivers, mountains, valleys, and lakes of your country? How many of them can you name right now? If you are anything like me… very few. Our educational system enforces us to absorb data as if information equaled knowledge.
Learn, Practice, Train
That flawed educational system accompanies us well beyond college. For example, if you are a developer, the more languages you know, the better. They look good in your resumé. And that’s the problem. Nobody cares if you are really good at any of those 27 programming languages you list on your LinkedIn profile.
I’m not saying here that you should not learn new programming languages, or new skills, or new abilities that are required by your area of expertise.
I’m telling that knowledge means not just learning something by heart, or reading a book. It means practicing it, training your mind or body, and experiencing it. Only then you can affirm you “know” something.
We place way too faith on books. Books are a great place to start, but the real life is not inside them. It’s out there. I’ve met people that affirm that books are better sources of knowledge than real life or experience. Life has shown me that’s not true at all.
Of course, that absolutely applies to philosophy. I understood that in the stoic There Is Philosophy In Everything.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Learn, Practice, Train”, teaches us a very important lesson. Books and words are the base of knowledge, but that’s just the beginning. We need to learn, practice and train to really get to “know” something in depth. That also applies to philosophy,