Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding are all great qualities that every human should possess to live a more noble life. We go to schools to gain knowledge, hold on to our conviction to achieve wisdom, and reflect on our own doings to achieve understanding. We might be familiar with the meaning of knowledge and wisdom, as we usually hear people talking about them. Some people are even using them interchangeably in their stories and discussions.
But what really is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
What about the differences between knowledge, wisdom, and understanding?
One of the best ways to define and understand the meaning of something is to learn how to distinguish it among others. The more you recognize its unique distinctions, the more you understand its meaning.
To become knowledgeable, wise, and understanding, let’s analyze the meanings and differences of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. And to go higher, deeper, and further, let’s include insight, which might be their ultimate form.
So without further ado, let’s scrutinize them starting from their definitions.
On the meaning and definition
Knowledge is the collective information and facts acquired through education or experience. Knowledge is awareness. And yes, knowledge, itself, is power.
Wisdom is the quality of having a good judgement based on knowledge. It is popularly known as the ability to discern. If knowledge is power, wisdom is your choice to use or apply that power.
Understanding is the ability to understand one’s knowledge and choices. It is the realization of your decision. It is knowledge and wisdom put into action. If knowledge is power and wisdom is your choice to use that power, understanding is the execution of your choice to use that power. We develop understanding when we practice what we preach.
Insight is the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of one’s knowledge and choices. It is the ability to make your knowledge, decision, and action into a habit or a lifestyle. If knowledge is power, wisdom is your choice to use that power, and understanding is the execution of your choice to use that power — then insight is the consistent execution of your choice to use that power. Insight is related to our future. If we have insight, or if we are constantly putting our knowledge, wisdom, an understanding into actions, we become more confident of our future.
On how to obtain them
To gain knowledge, one has to spend time and effort to know things by reading, listening, seeing, experiencing, studying, and getting familiar with certain things. Without interest or passion, one can hardly acquire knowledge.
To gain wisdom, one has to have knowledge first, and then use conviction to make a good judgment out of that knowledge. Without strength, courage, and confidence to make a decision, one cannot gain wisdom. No matter how intelligent or knowledgeable a person is, if he cannot distinguish what is right or wrong, he cannot be considered as a wise person.
To gain understanding, one has to have both knowledge and wisdom first, and then put them into action. He has to know, make a choice, and then practice that choice he has made. Without practicing and executing one’s knowledge and choice, he cannot truly understand or realize them. In order to have wisdom, you have to walk your talk. You have to do what is right, not just know it or judge it.
To gain insight, one has to have all of the above: knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. By persistently practicing and reflecting on them, one can gain insight and have more certainty of the future. Without patience, self-control, perseverance, and consistency, you can hardly develop insight.
In short, you have to know to have knowledge, you have to make a knowledgeable choice to gain wisdom, you have to practice that choice to gain understanding, and finally, practice that choice consistently to gain insight.
On their applications in life
Knowledge can help you become more intelligent, earn higher school grades, have a more profitable business, have a healthier life, build lasting relationships, and survive most of life’s challenges. Knowledge is indeed a power which can make you stronger and more competitive in life.
Wisdom can help you choose to apply your intelligence, honor, profit, health, love, and strength the right way. In other words, wisdom is choosing to use your knowledge or power in a better way.
Understanding can help you become a more practical person. Since it is the ability to put your knowledge and wisdom into actions, it will help you walk your talk and achieve actual results. Understanding will help you execute your choice to apply your intelligence, honor, profit, health, love, and strength the right way.
Insight can help you become a happier and more confident person. Since it is the ability to consistently practice your knowledge and wisdom, it will help you become more certain of the future. It will remove your fears and insecurities, thereby attaining real happiness and completeness in life. Insight will help you to persistently and constantly practice your choice to apply your intelligence, honor, profit, health, love, and strength the right way until you become more confident of the future.
We need knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and insight to have a better life now and in the future. Insight seemingly appears to be the greatest among them, but the truth is, they all need each other. You cannot have wisdom without knowledge, you cannot have understanding without wisdom, and you cannot have insight without understanding. They are steps or stages which we need to complete to truly achieve happiness and success in life. We have to recognize their differences not to separate them but to learn how to connect them and walk the right path towards life’s ultimate achievement.
You may also read: 12 Ways to become Wiser