Friday, June 14, 2013

An Aristotelian conundrum

     Okay, a fancy title, but it's still me with your "regular Joe" life-changing stuff. Anyway, here's Aristotle:

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. (from Nicomachean Ethics , bk II, ch I)

But really that's almost like a haiku, isn't it? The things we have to learn BEFORE we can do them, we learn by doing them. So what the heck is that all about?
     Beats me.
     But not knowing the answer to something has never stopped me before and it's not stopping me now. I just know that the FASTEST way to learn anything is to do it. So, knowing that (and we all do know that) we all just rush out and start doing the thing we need to learn, right?
     Wrong! Instead of doing the thing, we prepare, we study, we test, we plan, we investigate, we beat around the bush, and all the while we avoid the one thing that will get us what we want the fastest.
     Because we're afraid. And rightly so. (I'm not knocking anybody.) We're afraid because to learn by doing something means you're going to be approaching the thing with radically incomplete preparation. (And who likes doing that?) And it means we have to be willing to make a lot of mistakes. And perhaps costly mistakes too. And it means we may be humiliated. People may see our efforts and insult them or us. They may say we're stupid, lazy, unprepared, inadequate.
     So yeah, maybe learning by doing isn't the easiest way to learn, but it is the fastest. And so if you want to learn something fast, dive in there! Don't worry about the losers who might judge you. You'll soon be passing them by because you've got more courage than them.

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