Saturday, March 6, 2010

Knowledge and Judgement

When I was a young man and came to Lotus City to work, I was singled out by some older men after a while ,who told me that I may have current knowledge but that was no substitute for experience, from whence comes judgement. They, of course, had experience! I toiled away and by hook or crook got experience. We surely learn more from our mistakes than our triumphs and it is a leavening experience if you avoid operating by denial. Now that I am old, the young men that surround me are kind, but insist that experience as no useful substitute for current knowledge. What goes around, comes around! At the moment I am reading Harvey Cushing's "Life of Sir William Osler". It was a labor of love since they were contemporaries in the late 19th and early 20th century. The detail of Osler's professional life in the biography is profound. Osler addressed the relationship of knowledge and judgement in this aphoristic style. He said," To study the phenomenon of disease without books, is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients, is not to go to sea at all". You can substitute patients with farming, building, designing or any other work. We used to say in assessing physicians for registration that they should, " have the skill and knowledge necessary for the practice of medicine". At some point in order to assess judgement as well as knowledge it became necessary to change the phrase to read " bring the skill and knowledge necessary for the practice of medicine". A subtle word change but immense in application. I can recognize the point that Osler has made for me at this stage. I need now to sit on the sea shore, and watch the sailboats negotiate the charted seas.

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