First, juxtapose the two concepts: knowledge; understanding. Chew on it for a bit. What’s similar? How are they differentiated?
Here’s a second bit of homework. Juxtapose truth and honesty.
Done yet? Don’t continue unless you’ve given your best at distinguishing each set.
Alright, ready? Understanding subsumes knowledge (or makes of them anti-knowledge), and honesty subsumes truths (or renders them half). In other words, if you strive for honest understanding, knowledge and truth are just part of your dirty-face, ugly stepchildren (sometimes they’re good, sometimes bad). Accounted for.
Why make a distinction? Simply, because knowledge and truth can be easily taken out of context and manipulated for gain; understanding and honesty cannot.
It’s actually pretty simple. Let’s take the former set, first. Let’s do a trial setting.
- John Doe killed 8 people.
- John Doe premeditated the killings.
- He devised a plan, executed it, and killed them.
The above is 100% truthful; meaning, no lie is being told—and this is precisely how the legal profession works to its own gain. If—given powers that be: political environment, public opinion, or how Fox News or CNN pundits judge ratings potential—this could be the only facts the jury sees, you have a certain conviction. If you think that’s far fetched, look into the innocence project. Here’s a purported truth: if you’re innocent, you have nothing to worry about. But it’s a dishonest statement.
In voire dire now, it’s a clandestine fight between prosecution and defense to sneak in jurors who will be truthful in terms of what they’re fed, but dishonest in terms of demanding full context and accounting (both sides want dishonest, malleable jurors in many cases). It’s a fight to get “their best” past the judge…and perfunctory gift cards.
It’s also a fight on the part of the prosecution to weed out anyone who won’t follow the judge’s instructions as to application of law (jury nullification). This is the game of criminal prosecution. It’s a match over who can get the most loyal folks willing to look only at a given set of truths. Neither side wants honest jurors. They get them anyway, since we’re still left with the human condition, and conscience is a crazy evolutionary adaptation that has caused lots of people to be ultimately unsatisfied with packages of truth handed down from professional predators. In other terms, the State is always in battle against evolved human conscience.
So, via a process of jurisprudence—some of which involves motions and objections to allow or exclude convenient or inconvenient truths (depending on the flow of tidewaters)—some defendants—often turning on skin pigment—don’t get other truths admitted: such that dishonest people sitting on a jury can just do their jobs, civil duty, or whatever excuse they can muster for being dishonest and inhumane.
- The setting was WWI, 1945, Allied invasion of Germany.
- John Doe was a regular solder, found himself separated from the rest of his unit, who were pinned down in a ravine by German gunfire.
- John planned and executed, surreptitiously flanking those German gunmen, killing them from behind, saving his entire platoon.
It’s just an object lesson and you could construct it in any way you like. In this case, everyone understands that John Doe is a hero in the context of the time (he was a WASP, too), not a premeditated murderer.
Hey, how about a bunch of SWAT raiding a house of colored people who like to grow herbs, smoke them, engage in trade for what they don’t use themselves? Eh?
How about when a baby gets a shock genade in his crib?
None of that ever faces honest justice, either way. But there will be no lies told, either way.
…Knowledge is touted. Understanding is not.
Knowledge is to understanding what truth is to honesty. Or, knowledge is to truth what understanding is to honesty.
Update. Afterthought, but what if Richard is a friend of a Japanese philosopher who got only the Eastern way, but educated himself more widely? He knows Ayn Rand (with significant respect) more than you do. All the Greeks, too. He integrates; i.e., honest man.
We had a mutual friend that influenced both of us, now deceased.