Second Layer Knowledge

In Todd Tressider’s interview with Cal Newport about his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Tresidder introduces the concept of second layer knowledge. Tresidder says that first layer knowledge seems obvious and we want to belive that the way indicated by first layer knowledge is correct. However, when scrutinized, first layer knowledge breaks down and gives way to second layer knowledge which is more complicated. It’s truths are not readily apparent but acquiring second layer knowledge gives one a competitive advantage. Deliberate study is needed to understand some of the principles underlying second layer knowledge but once acquired they are well worth the effort.

Often times, cracking the shell of the first layer to get to the second layer of knowledge you can gain wisdom in the process.

One may find interesting the distinction that George Kinder makes between knowledge and wisdom:

“Knowledge is not wisdom, which remains deeply truthful despite the passage of time. Knowledge is impermanent; it changes; drifts away, fades, like fog or smoke.” (The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, pg. 180).

Consider that wisdom is a way of being and knowledge is a way of doing or acting.

This is merely the difference between techne and episteme. However, the important thing is knowing that or having the wisdom that techne is the important thing over time in a tinkering environment. This is with a nod to Taleb as he says some of his friends who were traders were not sophisticated guys but they understood optionality and were thus rich. So in failing to be erudite, they at least understand optionality better than the learned professors of academia who remained less well heeled than “da guys from Brooklyn.”

On Learning

Let’s consider what learning is…

Learning is about connecting unknowns with knowns.

Connections must be made between things or concepts already understood with whatever the object concept is.

All things can be understood by their relationship to something else or by defining something by what it is or is not. It bears repeating that it may be useful to understand new concepts by what they are not. That is, to define limits or set boundaries for them.

Much like when a child learns that animals with four legs are called “dog” yet finds out he is wrong when he calls a cow a “dog.” He must learn the limits of the subsets of the class “quadruped.”

Whether you agree with the following quotes, you may gain something from contemplating them:

“Socrates believed that learning occurred when a teacher presented a concept, the student challenged it, and the teacher replied to the challenge. Together, the teacher and student created the learning. Ultimately, the teacher developed a deeper understanding of the concept or abandoned it if he couldn’t defend it.” (Borrowing Brilliance, p. 196)

In The Culture Code, Clotaire Rapaille credits Henri Laborit with “[drawing] a clear connection between learning and emotion, showing that without the latter the former was impossible.” (p. 6)

De Brevitate Vitae

Maior pars mortalium, Pauline, de naturae malignitate conqueritur, quod in exiguum aeui gignimur, quod haec tam uelociter, tam rapide dati nobis temporis spatia decurrunt, adeo ut exceptis admodum paucis ceteros in ipso uitae adparatu uita destituat…