What Are the Differences Between Knowledge, Wisdom, and Insight?
By Royale Scuderi
Knowledge, Wisdom, and Insight may sound like synonyms, but they are not.
Though they all refer to the mind and an accumulation of thoughts and experiences, they have some very real differences in the essence of their meanings and their applications in our life.
Insight is the deepest level of knowing and the most meaningful to your life. Insight is a deeper and clearer perception of life, of knowledge, of wisdom. It’s grasping the underlying nature of knowledge, and the essence of wisdom. Insight is a truer understanding of your life and the bigger picture of how things intertwine.
In a nutshell: If knowledge is information, wisdom is the understanding and application of that knowledge and insight is the awareness of the underlying essence of a truth.
Sadly we can gain a lifetime of knowledge, yet never see the wisdom in it. We can be wise, but still miss the deeper meaning.
Christopher Reiss does a great job of summing up the differences on Quora…
Knowledge is measuring that a desert path is 12.4 miles long.
Wisdom is packing enough water for the hike.
Insight is building a lemonade stand at mile 6.
Knowledge is knowing how to manage your money, budgeting, spending, saving.
Wisdom is understanding how money impacts the quality of your life and your future.
Insight is realizing that money is simply a tool to be used, that it has no inherent meaning beyond its usefulness.
Knowledge is learning how to paint and using that skill to cultivate a livelihood.
Wisdom is expressing your passion through painting and understanding that art is a form of communication that touches the lives of others.
Insight is perceiving that all things can be art and that creating your art contributes to the understanding and the expression of the essence of the world around you.
Knowledge is knowing which things, practices, people, and pleasures make you happy.
Wisdom is knowing that while those things may bring you pleasure, happiness is not derived from things or situations or people. It’s understanding that happiness comes from within, and that it’s a temporary state of mind.
Insight is knowing that happiness is not the purpose of life, that it’s not the marker of the quality of life—it’s merely one of the many fleeting states of mind in the spectrum of full emotions. Those emotions don’t make up our lives; they are merely experiences.
Knowledge, wisdom and insight all are valuable and all have a place in our lives. The difficulty lies in the fact that many of us are unclear as to their differences, often percieving the terms and their application to be interchangeable. Being clear and consciously aware of how our minds are engaged may be important to getting the most out of all three.
While acquiring and applying information is valuable in and of itself, we also need to distill and judge that information, and ultimately find the deaper meaning and relevance to the whole of our lives. Perhaps the truest form of knowing is in acquiring all three, and understanding how they each enhance the quality and experience of life.