Deep wisdom, good advice

… metacognition



Have you had a conversation with someone on a subject you did not quite know much about, or read a write-up on a subject on which you have limited expertise, and subsequently remarked “Now, that is deep”. Better even, have you asked someone for advice regarding something you did not know how to handle, and subsequently remarked “That is good advice”. I have, and recoiled at the metacognitive gaffe. (Subsequently, the occurrences of my these utterances have diminished.)

(In order to know that the wisdom is deep, your own wisdom of the subject matter must be deep. In order to know that the advice is good, you must have a way to judge good and bad solutions.)

I think perhaps, this is explainable as a matter of terminology:

– When one says “This is deep”, one doesn’t really mean that one can gauge the depth of the wisdom. One just means that the wisdom is/was sufficiently nontrivial, that one’s mind could imagine that the path to it must be hard.

– When one says “This is good advice”, one perhaps doesn’t really mean that one metacognitively examined the quality of the advice against other solutions and realized its superiority, but instead means

  • the solution given meets some desirability criteria (known a priori) that would be common to unknown solutions to the problem at hand.


  • the solution to the problem makes one feel emotionally good.

Or is this another thing to be expected of the status seeking missiles that are humans? i.e. upon encountering depth, or quality, humans want to signal themselves and others that they possess the metacognitive ability to evaluate it? Or is this just an ack, to make the other person feel better?


  1. unawoken said:

    “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.”
    Amos Bronson Alcott quotes

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