Monday, December 30, 2013

Changing your mind

To learn is to change your mind.

This is a paraphrase of a remark by Luhmann. It may seem paradoxical to those who think of learning as the accumulation of knowledge. On this line of thinking, each new piece of knowledge lines up more or less neatly next to the old pieces, as in a well-organized warehouse. Flashes of insight merely illuminate the goods from different angles. Learning in this sense requires no ability to take stock.

But learning can be looked at in another, additional way. By the definition of "new", when you run into something new it can't be an extension of what you already knew. To incorporate it into what you already know, you must change your mind about its being new, or change your mind about what you thought you knew. Learning in this sense requires an ability to take stock and reevaluate.

If these considerations are new to you, you may have learned something - depending on how you look at it.

No comments: