Confucius Analects – Knowing and Not-Knowing
2.11 Knowing and not-knowing
The Master said, ‘You [Yu], shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it;– this is knowledge.’
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What do we know? At the absolute level, Laozi pointed out that no “one” actually know any “thing” (see earlier blog discussion on Daodejing Chapter 71). At the more ordinary and worldly level, Confucius said knowledge is: when you know something, you can declare you know it (to your best information and ability); when you don’t know of something, you admit it. Honesty, is an important quality to cultivate to succeed (spiritually speaking) in life: in external interactions, honesty brings credibility; in internal reflection, it brings self understanding. Lack of honesty brings confusion; be honest, and you will proceed in truth.