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Confusing the map with the territory simply means not knowing at all

I like that mental exercise, presented many times and in many ways, in which someone, let's say a man, knows all about colors. For example, the man in question knows the wavelength of each color and can anticipate the psychological impact that each color will have on the person looking at it.

But (and this is what this thought experiment consists of) the man who knows so much about colors has lived his whole life in a totally dark room, never having seen a single color. So how much do you really know about colors if you've never experienced a color?

This exercise and similar ones seek to separate propositional knowledge (that which is acquired, for example, by reading books or attending classes) from existential knowledge (acquired by experiencing what one wants to know.)

For example, you don't learn to swim by reading swimming books. You can only learn to swim by swimming in water. Everything one knows about swimming (history, statistics, styles, etc.) is useless when swimming. And you don't learn to drive a car either by memorizing the car's user manual.

In other words, as Anthony De Mello suggests more than once in The Song of the Bird, no one will get drunk by reading the definition of "wine" in the dictionary, and no one will increase their bank account by learning to define "salary."

In that same book, and using his always powerful stories, De Mello suggests that it is better not to give a "map" (propositional knowledge) to those who really need an experience (existential knowledge) for their life, because there is a risk that Someone believes that, by knowing the map, they have already had that experience.

This warning takes on a new urgency in our time in which everyone thinks they are "experts" in colors, even if they have never seen one in their life. And although such a claim is absurd, other examples illustrate the point we seek to underline, such as the case that someone, after watching a video on YouTube, already thinks they are a real estate agent or financial advisor.

In this context, it is useless to be really an expert (that is, to have dedicated time and resources both to know and to practice that knowledge), because suddenly everyone thinks they are experts in everything, by confusing access to information with wisdom.

And at the bottom of that scale of confusion I place those who, when presented with a topic of conversation, begin their response with “Yes, I know. I saw it in a movie”. It's like having a copy of a copy of a copy of the original map and, therefore, believing yourself to be a true explorer.

Be that as it may, in this time of profound, sudden and irreversible change, when even our own future existence as humanity is in doubt, we need not only knowledge, but wisdom, which is not acquired by reading a dictionary, watching a video, or searching for the answer on Google.

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