Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

— Aristotle

In order to understand what truth and knowledge is, we have to understand the hardware that we’re using to seek truth. The purpose of the brain is primarily to seek truth, but instead to ensure good outcomes for the body. Generally, learning more helps us create good outcomes for out bodies, but this only lasts up to a certain point. We take the sensory input from our eyes, ears, nose, and skin and process it and determine the actions that we want to send to our muscles. Eventually we reach a place where learning more will no longer improve our material condition and may actually start to hurt it.

Through our lives, most of us have have encountered individuals who are very intelligent - or perhaps you have been that person. When these intelligent individuals interact with those around them, they can be hard to interact with; this could be because others don’t know how to have a good conversation with them, feel inferior and therefore insecure around them, or feel like they are trampling on social norms. For most people, their thoughts are derived from their physical needs and ensuring that they can keep those needs meet.

Remove yourself from the equation.

Therefore in order to seek truth of a world that is larger than our immediate surroundings, we must separate our thoughts from out physical desires. We have to quell the thoughts of seeking food, sex, fame, wealth, or other personally beneficial goals in order to seek the nature of the universe. This concept arises in many different cultures and religions. It exists in meditation. Monks and nuns pursue a life of chastity in order to seek understanding. Christianity talks about thinking of the kingdom of heaven and pursuing the will of God instead of chasing earthly pleasures.

  • 20-40 watt power consumption
  • 86 billion neurons
  • 3 pounds (1300-1400 grams) on average
  • 140mm wide by 167mm long on average
  • 6-8 hours of sleep recommend per day


Over time we have developed technologies that have given us more time. Every advancement has allowed us to escape the tedium in order to pursue something better. As we domesticated plants and animals we were able to leave the life of the hunter-gatherer, a life of consistently packing and unpacking in order to follow our game and forage for food. As we developed irrigation and other technologies we were able to dedicate a larger portion of out time to

We want to learn more. In Silicon Valley, companies realize how valuable the purity of thought is; many do all that they can to take away the daily hassles from their engineers’ lives so that they can concentrate solely on the technical problems at hand. They can get a haircut or massage at the office. They can request oil changes and car maintenance while they are at the office. Their food is provided by excellent chefs.


Alas, there are bounds to which our knowledge can reach. With our speech and sight, we can only take in so much information. Our minds can only rewire itself at such a rate before exhaustion. And most of all, our lifespan is limited. If we look across our society, we can see how much effort it takes just to encode the basic set of knowledge - language, mathematics, history, art. We spend the first 18 years of almost every child’s life teaching them the same things.

These are the people that end up being our leaders and dictating policy. They have the same amount of time as us. And even if they keep learning throughout their lives, the amount of knowledge and accuracy of their perception of reality is at most an order of magnitude better than ours.

Further Reading