Learning from contradiction

The word, contradict, comes from the Latin terms ‘contra’ and ‘dict’. It literally translates as ‘speak against’. History is chequered with several famous contradictions:

Socrates spoke against the social conventions of his time, and was forced to end his life by consuming hemlock.

Nearly 2000 years later, the Catholic church condemned Galileo Galilei when he spoke out against what the Catholic Church ordained to be true about the solar system.

Ignaz Semmelweis, the Hungarian doctor who pioneered antiseptic surgery blamed doctors for the death of mothers and new-born babies due to their poor hygiene. He was hounded by his peers for the rest of his life.

Albert Einstein’s thought experiments led him to imagine scenarios where the laws of classical physics would break down. He was a Swiss clerk who dreamed of moving at the speed of light even as his tram ambled along the streets of Bern.

Daniel Kahneman, the most influential psychologist alive today, uncovered secrets about the human mind by studying systematic errors in judgement. He has taught us much about the human mind by observing where it slipped up.

Learning happens at the boundaries between the known and the unknown. It takes perception to observe where this boundary lies, curiosity to venture outside it and courage to speak out against what the world holds to be true.

2 thoughts on “Learning from contradiction

  1. Loved this statement “Learning happens at the boundaries between the known and the unknown. It takes perception to observe where this boundary lies, curiosity to venture outside it and courage to speak out against what the world holds to be true.”

    Liked by 1 person

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