PARABLE – the two French Philosophers – Knowing and Realizing


Knowing and Realizing


Most mornings, the two French philosophers would walk together to the Sorbonne. On this occasion, one of them bumped into a telephone pole and bloodied his nose. His companion laughed,

“We’ve walked this way often. Surely you knew the telephone pole was there!”

His friend replied, “Of course! I always knew it was there but I never realized it before!”


Is there a boundary or threshold between “knowing” and “realizing”  (is knowing all a machine (or zombie) is capable of?)  A Thing is known easily when the filters between it and the knowing of it are “inexperienced” (as in childhood) or when an immense need is energized (as in one’s spiritual quest) (Zen saying) [broken link]  


KNOWING [broken link]  


Artists often seem to be working from some indeterminate vision toward a specific satisfying representation of it: their work of art is realized.   The indeterminancy has crossed a threshold !  


Knowledge” of a phenomenon is sterile without a sense of its “meaning” which can be derived only in the mind of the student, and in a slightly different way in every individual.  Students move beyond “knowing” to “realizing” what the subject means.



“knowing” and “realizing” is at the heart of “Transformational Learning” (Sohn, Grenberg et al., 2016) … student experiences professors try to evoke in certain contexts to take them beyond mere assimilation of more data and construct new lenses through which all subsequent experience can be viewed.  Much of the pedagogy is aimed at creating a “Teachable Moment.”


 Are there layers of insight?  watch this excerpt from Robin Williams film,  “Good Will Hunting”

Sohn, B.K., Kristina Plaas, Karen Franklin, Tiffany Dellard, Branda Murphy, Katherine H. Greenberg, Neil B. Greenberg, Howard R. Pollio, Sandra P. Thomas. (2016) Freedom to Connect: Insight into the Existential Dimension of Transformative Learning in a Graduate Seminar.  J. Transformative Education.  14(3):178-199