WISDOM GAINED THROUGH FAILURE, ADVERSITY AND ARGUMENT
Collision Learning is the act of gaining wisdom through failure, adversity and argument
Wisdom is practical insight with spiritual implications, which is more and different than just knowledge. While it is important to know things, like (for instance) that a tomato is a fruit, it takes the practical insight provided by wisdom to understand why you shouldn’t put one in a fruit salad.
Knowledge without wisdom is bloodless—you can’t do anything with it
Knowledge resides in the brain, like facts on file, but wisdom lives in the heart. It’s one thing to know that you will die from hyperthermia if you are exposed to extreme cold for a prolonged period—that’s a fact. But that knowledge will do you little good if you car breaks down in backwoods North Dakota on a dark and frigid January night. To survive until dawn will take the practical insight that can only be gained through failure, adversity and argument.
Failure is an undesirable outcome that increases wisdom by exposing knowledge to the harsh reality of the known and unknown world
When I was learning to fly, I was taught that the lack of a visible horizon causes spatial disorientation. That was just another fact in my head until the first time I accidentally flew into a cloud—that was a failure. The nauseous panic that nearly overcame me until I made it back to blue skies was the undesirable outcome of that failure. If that cloud had been bigger, it might have killed me rather than just scaring the hell out of me. The resulting practical insight (that focusing on my instruments in the cockpit rather than the nonexistent horizon was the only way I would survive) lodged itself in my heart as wisdom that made me very careful about flying in marginal conditions.
Adversity is a challenge created by an obstacle
Obstacles foster durability because the act of overcoming them increases one’s physical and mental toughness. That’s why the Army uses obstacle courses to train soldiers. The physical aspect is obvious—navigating the obstacles increases stamina and strength—but the mental aspect is no less important. The act of overcoming an obstacle that he previously regarded as insurmountable teaches the soldier something important about himself and his capacity to withstand pain and chaos. It makes him emotionally durable in addition to just physically tough and emotional durability is an indispensable trait for any man seeking wisdom rather than just mere knowledge.
Argument is the forceful juxtaposition of opposing viewpoints in order to persuade
It is through argument that ideas are tested, sharpened and advanced—or exposed as meritless and abandoned. A judge relies on the opposing arguments of lawyers to make a just determination of a motion in a case. Voters use the arguments made during political debates to decide which candidate is better suited for office. Without argument, the accumulation of wisdom is impossible. Whenever someone says to me “hey, I’m not looking for an argument here” I always think: then I guess you aren’t seeking wisdom either—so why bother?
Which leads me to the purpose of this blog
My purpose in launching The Collision Learner is to chronicle the search for wisdom by courting failure, seeking adversity and engaging in argument. If that search makes you uncomfortable, good—me too. That's the point.