A Map Is Not the Territory

You are in a place you've never been before, equipped with a single map, and tasked with finding your way towards a given destination. You are going around and around, unable to find what you are looking for.

Indeed you've never been to this point in your life before, and you have a single model of the world with which you are trying to navigate towards your next career, a stable relationship, self-actualization, ...happiness. When you are unable to get there, how long will it take for you to consider that your map does not reflect the territory? How long will you go in circles convinced that your target is just around the corner? Will you claim that your observations must be wrong, since your model clearly isn't?

So what is it Epistemology, and why should you care? Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge: What is knowledge? What does it mean to know something? Why do you believe what you believe? In essence, Epistemology is the tool with which you inscribe your map of the world, that is responsible for leading you to your chosen destination.

In this sequence of posts I would like to share with anyone reading this a toolbox of sorts which they can utilize to model the world more accurately. Each post will draw wisdom from great philosophers of the past and present. I advise keeping an open mind and not getting too attached to old ideas when they no longer seem useful in understanding the world.

Further Reading

The Map Is Not The Territory on the LessWrong website.