What is understanding?

What is understanding?

I have for some time been interested in trying to understand what ‘understand’ means. I have reached the conclusion that ‘curiosity then caring’ is the first steps toward understanding. Without curiosity we care for nothing. Once curiosity is in place then caring becomes necessary for understanding.

Our first experience with ‘understanding’ may be our first friendship. I think that this first friendship may be an example of what Carl Sagan meant by “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy”.

I also think that the boy who falls in love with automobiles and learns everything he can about repairing the junk car he bought has discovered ‘understanding’.

I suspect many people go their complete life and never have an intellectual experience that culminates in the “ecstasy of understanding”. How can this be true? I think that our educational system is designed primarily for filling heads with knowledge and hasn’t time to waste on ‘understanding’.

Understanding must come in the adult years if it is to ever come to many of us. I think that it is very important for an adult to find something intellectual that will excite his or her curiosity and concern sufficiently so as to motivate the effort necessary to understand.

We have little comprehension of ‘understanding’ because our schooling has taught us only to know. Understanding is a step beyond knowing and our society which values production and consumption has little use for understanding. Those who make public policy do not want a population that cares about understanding. The bull that understands will hook at the Matador rather than the cape.

Understanding is generally not valuable in our society and so we have little comprehension of what it is. However there seems to be one application for understanding. I have on several occasions heard a professor say that “you never really understand a subject until you try to teach it”. Here is one occasion that people can begin to comprehend the meaning of the concept. I suspect we all have a sense of what the professor is saying. So here is a ‘use’ for understanding and in this example we who only value that which is ‘useful’ can begin to gain a comprehension of the concept.

We imply that reason can be depended upon as a guide but we do not help the individual understand what reason is. The problem is that our schools and colleges are only now beginning to teach CT (Critical Thinking), which is the art and science of how to think. We adults were never taught how to think we were only taught what to think. If we do not learn how to think and how to help others learn how to think then we are giving only empty words. We are as ignorant of what reason is as those we wish to give up dogma for reason. Until we learn the art and science of reason we cannot help others to learn how to think.

Search for meaning through self-actuated study can provide a purpose similar to the purpose believers find in religion. Understanding resulting from study, leading to meaning and purpose, is perhaps a legitimate foil to dogma.

I agree and I would add that it is the family that must put the effort into teaching how to think, resolve problems etc. Parents give in to kids wants far to easy. But, then a parent would have to discipline that child and teach self discipline. Look around, not many parents do that anymore.
Parents have little time to allow a child to resolve problems so they resolve it for them. This takes away from the kid.

Parents are now afraid to discipline their kid in public for fear of having child protective service called. They are not told or taught how to resolve crucial discpline problems unless they cough up money for lessons. Yea, right, most parents struggle just to feed the kids, clothe them and make sure they stay healthy physically, let alone try to pay for expensive lessons or books.

Still, it is the parent who needs to take the time and allow Jr. to think. Since society creates laws on bad parenting, then maybe society needs to offer up free ways to be a good parent. They freely tell you what not to do but, learning what to do cost bucks. Maybe city programs need to be inacted in neighborhoods for parents.

Society has latchKey kids in every walk of life, parents do need some help. Shcools may fit the bill but, then they are their just to program kids.

Resolutions on teaching kids how to think may end up just being the parents job. Which is where it should lie if we want a free thinking society.

parents can’t raise their kids anymore… trust your government agent, errr “teacher,” to raise your child now. now go back to work to pay your taxes, we’ll raise your child for you and he’ll grow up to be a good tax payer… you want him to be able to think for himself? who has time to think, you need to work and pay taxes to keep the wheels of the LEVIATHAN grinding everyone equally…

brought to you by your “friends” at the DNC.


Imp, before making fallacious statements such as this, you should research the Republican billed “No Child Left Behind” programs, a mind destroying collusion between the NEA and … ?

Here’s a pragmatic definition of ‘understanding’:

Read the stuff I write when I’m responding to Obw.

Generally speaking, understanding is the opposite of that.

there was nothing fallacious about it. the nea has been notoriously liberal socialist democRAT for decades and continues to be so. the no child left behind only makes the teachers give the illusion that they are working in educating the children. who do you think sets the standards and writes the tests?


I think that understanding happens when there occurs a confluence of emotion and intellection about a particular matter. Empathy, as I understand it, happens when such a confluence happens. Empathy is a good definition of understanding. To be empathetic one must try to create an analogy that will help him or her to comprehend deeply the target of the empathy.

Understanding can be seen as assimilating or absorbing.
One understands what he has absorbed into his becoming and made it familiar and a part of this process.

It is time for the parents to become self-actualizinf self- learners. It is adult intellect that is being unused.