Confucius is correct with this description of people who focus on learning or thinking much more than the other. It is necessary to both think and learn, and to understand the reasons for why we need to. When one only learns but does not think about what one has learned can make the knowledge confusing, misleading or useless. One who learns a lot but does not think for one’s self how to apply it and how it is important to them will not fully understand how that knowledge works. When one does not fully understand the knowledge, they can get confused as to what the outcome of the learning process was to be.
I know this to be realistic because when I learn about stem cells in biology class, I am also taught the uses of stem cells, which leads me to think about how ethical it is to create embryos to research their embryonic stem cells and then to destroy the embryos. I understand the importance of the knowledge I learned better and am able to remember the knowledge more easily because it was a relatable and clear idea that I could apply to my day-to-day life, because I thought about the application of the knowledge.
Learning in addition to thinking is better than to only learn or to only think. To only think and form thoughts without first obtaining information about the subject of those thoughts can offend others who have learned and given thought to the subject. One who solely thinks but does not try to learn facts to make their thoughts reasonable has a high possibility of getting into disagreements with people who have facts to back up their thoughts, if one expresses their thoughts.
When someone with their own thoughts, who has also learned of reasons to support these thoughts, meets someone who has set beliefs that aren’t based on anything they have learned, the person with no facts to back up their argument will be, as Confucius said, “in great danger” of losing the argument. In classes like History and Social Studies, we, the students, have to learn about current events and history in order to make reasonable opinions about the material and issues. I have been in and have witnessed debates where there must be textual or factual evidence in order for the opinions to be solid.
The learning involved with proving thoughts to be more correct or convincing is beneficial when utilized in fair amounts. A wholesome balance comes from learning about what one thinks, and thinking about what one learns in fair amounts. It is not healthy to have an excess of one thing and not another that would help balance it out, as proven by science and demonstrated by many health problems such as cavities from an excess of sugar. As learning and thinking are both important, it is important to balance out these two actions.
Learning to form thoughts, and thinking about what we have learned are two things that work like a cycle. If you learn, you should think, and if you think you should also learn about what you are thinking of, which cancels and balances each other out. Even so, in some cases, these two do not balance as well as they should. Although to learn and think simultaneously has its advantages, it also has disadvantages. When a person is to learn in addition to think, they may become biased or distracted in their processing of the knowledge for use.
A wildlife biologist who studies wildlife in Africa may learn a great deal of the animals and the environment. Eventually, they learn about the warning signs and data that display that the wildlife is dying. If this wildlife biologist thinks too much about how sad this is, and is emotionally impaired from continuing their duties and helping with the improvement of the environment and living conditions, they could stop working in that field of science. A person who thinks, but does not learn as much as they think, is more free to form genuine opinions uninfluenced by what they could learn as the correct, acceptable mindset.
Learning the common mindset could be a result of conformity, and not for the good of the thinker. To both learn and think isn’t absolutely the best but is relatively better than to be ignorant and unconscious. It is important to understand why we should learn about what we think, and to think about what we learn. It makes us more knowledgeable. It helps us defend ourselves better. It creates a healthy balance between our focus on absorbing knowledge and our focus on how this knowledge will help us and the world. To learn and to think is to be educated, and education is necessary in our world.