Knowledge and Ignorance

Rafay Hiraj
5 min readNov 8, 2021


Knowledge is the the art of knowing something. It is a common misconception in the world that if a person has a lot of knowledge, knows a lot, he is wise and people would go to him/her for advice. But, that is not really how it works in the real world. See, there was a Russian novelist by the name of Fyodor Dostoevsky who raised an interesting point about this;

The cleverest of all in my opinion is someone who calls himself a fool at least once a month

Now, this does not mean that you start to grill yourself at anything wrong that you do. It represents the wise man. An important quality of a wise man is his continued thirst to learn and his constant humility despite being in high regard.

Consider this, if someone who is held in high regard by a group of people preaches that he knows everything and envelops himself in pride, that is in fact the death of him. Because, this will lead to him destroying his entire group. They would not doubt anything he says as he would be preaching perfection, they would not give their own opinion as they would consider themselves inferior and as he is considered the best, their opinion would be of no use to him as he already knows everything according to his belief. This way he will pollute the mind of his followers and end up being a rather terrible leader.

So how exactly does a wise man call himself a fool every month at least once. This does not mean that he has to go into the public and concede himself a fool because in that case there would be no unity amongst his followers. He has to keep this belief to himself; deep within. When he talks to people, be his followers or adversary or a neutral or a stranger, he must keep in his mind that the person in front of him has something he does not.

Let me give you a practical example to better explain this point. Let’s picture a glass that is full, what will happen if you pour water into it? It will overflow. Same is the case here. If a person believes he knows everything, faced with any learning opportunity, he will shun it or be unable to perceive it. A practical case here is one in which, if you are arguing with a person, he will disregard your point of view, maybe talk louder than you or maybe interrupt you. Do you know someone like that? Are you someone like that? If yes, try taking a more passive approach to arguments. Arguments are not supposed to be aggressive, they are simply meant to be a learning opportunity for people involved in it. If you approach every argument with the intention of learning something, you will not attack someone or get defensive whilst sharing your point.

Now that we have talked about certain characteristics of a wise man, lets look at the word knowledge more objectively. Knowledge is what YOU know, so it is never complete, which is why it is NEVER the truth. Truth, is where you want to reach through your knowledge. If you are not seeking to reach the truth then your knowledge is not your power by any means, it is just a baseless collection of information. Truth, as it is the objective is stationary where it is. But, for you it is constantly changing or evolving, let’s say. So when you gain more knowledge on a certain subject you find more about the truth. If the knowledge is true, it will get you to your truth. So being ‘true’ is the credibility of the path and the only way you know whether the knowledge is true is by walking on that path and seeing it through.

Now, let’s say you collect knowledge about a certain something, travel your path and get to your truth. Is knowledge the truth in that case? No, it still isn’t. It is just true, in that moment but at the next one, the true path may have changed and that knowledge becomes outdated or false again. For example, if you climb a mountain, are you knowledgable about the path of the mountain to its peak. Yes, you are. But, do you know the true path to get to the truth (Peak). No, you do not. Because the slightest change can affect the path. Consider snowing on the mountain blocking the path where you came from. Now your path is covered and you are as knowledgeable about the mountain as someone who has never climbed it. You get it. That is why knowledge can never be the truth.

So, how do you apply this practically to get to your truth. Let me give you an example. Consider what Dostoevsky did himself. He had a herd of believers and one day he told them to go their separate ways and make their own errors and travel by themselves. They were shocked at this and asked him why, as they had been with him for a long long time. He told them, that this was because they were believers not followers. A believer is someone who will believe you regardless of thought. So, their path is aligned by yours not because it is how it is supposed to be but rather because they believe you and what you say. So, it would be very easy to pollute their mind as mentioned before. His thinking behind this was simple, he wanted them to travel their own path, make their own errors and decisions and if after that, they reach back to Dostoevsky, then they are followers or else the truth they are seeking must be different to him, in which case they can look for it through trial and error. This way you can know, what your truth is, what you seek in the world through your own trial and error, through your own countless failures that must one day lead to success.

Consider your success like a mountain, let’s say the mountain peak is within arm length to you but you cant go further because the path is very slippery and impossible to stand on without falling back down. A fool, despite this understanding would jump on that path as he can see the peak and has reached it. What a wise man would do, is go back down and climb up through another path or make his own path but persist till he reaches the peak as that is his what he truly seeks. This also tells us that impatience is the enemy of progress which could most likely be the case.

If you are stuck while trying to learn something, the wise thing to do is to get back to the basics and work your way back up rather than making sense of something when it is just wrong. That is like miswriting an equation which now, wouldn’t balance. So in that case, track back and sit with an empty, and eager to learn mind and start again.



Rafay Hiraj

Self Improvement and Life Lessons