Jack Uldrich
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The First Principle of Unlearning

Posted in Wisdom

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” –Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman, the Nobel-prize winning physicist, who uttered these wise words also kept “a notebook of things I don’t know.”

One way to remain open to the need for unlearning is to similarly keep “a notebook of ways I have been fooled.” If you’re more daring you may even wish to label it “a notebook of ways I have fooled myself.”

My own journey down the path of unlearning had its origins in an innocuous file. Over time the file grew thicker and thicker and, as a result, I became more and more humble–and more open to unlearning.

Which brings me to that other famous saying: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

If, like me, you have found yourself fooled by yourself more than once, the onus of minimizing this deplorable state of affairs rests squarely with you.

And, if you have never fooled yourself, count yourself blessed. Alas, I fear you may only be kidding yourself. As Shakespeare wrote centuries ago: “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Who knows, by keeping a notebook of ways you have fooled yourself, you may become a little wiser.

Interested in other wisdom from Richard Feynman or William Shakespeare? Checkout these older posts:

A Notebook of Things I Don’t Know

Shakespeare on Unlearning

20 Quotes on Unlearning

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