Empathize - Understanding
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"Yearn to understand first and to be understood second." - Beca Lewis

"Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand." - St. Augustine

"We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it." - Sir James M. Barrie

"Our feeling Heart is our key
That opens our door of our whole me
To really and truly feel and see
Into the infinite universal oneness
Of what I call the "we within me"!

As I bask in this infinite light
It all comes so fully into sight
And I truly feel in my heart what I see
That we really are all one within me!

Fully being me in the all that I now see
Includes being all of you
Felt in my heart to be so true!

What is true within you that I see within me
Is that as I do unto you,
I actually do unto the you of the "we within me"!

It truly is magic in the highest degree
This love from our heart of the "we within me".
It connects us all in every way
Inviting us to join in the ultimate play.""
-- by Charles of www.youtube.com/user/Positive777

Understanding is characterized by or having comprehension, good sense or discernment. It is being compassionate or sympathetic. Understanding is the quality or condition of one who understands; comprehension. It is the faculty by which one understands; intelligence. It is a reconciliation of differences, an act and/or a state of agreeing between parties regarding a course of action: accord, agreement, arrangement, bargain, compact, deal or pact, such as "They finally reached an understanding." It is a disposition to appreciate, share and/or to have sympathy with the feelings and thoughts of others. Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.

An Understanding is the limit of a conceptualisation. To understand something is to have conceptualised it to a given measure.

To have a word, a picture, or any other object in one's mind is one thing, but to understand it is quite another. A major target of the later work of Wittgenstein is the suggestion that this understanding is achieved by a further presence, so that words might be understood if they are accompanied by ideas, for example; Wittgenstein insists that the extra presence merely raises the same kind of problem again. The better suggestion is that understanding is to be thought of as possession of a technique or skill; and this is the point of the slogan that ‘meaning is use’.

Some Examples of "Understanding" are:

  • 1. One understands the weather if one is able to predict and to give an explanation of some of its features, etc.
  • 2. A psychiatrist understands another person's anxieties if he/she knows that person's anxieties, their causes, and can give useful advice on how to cope with the anxiety.
  • 3. A person understands a command if he/she knows who gave it, what is expected by the issuer, and whether the command is legitimate, and whether one understands the speaker (see 4).
  • 4. One understands a reasoning, an argument, or a language if one can consciously reproduce the information content conveyed by the message.
  • 5. One understands a mathematical concept if one can solve problems using it, especially problems that are not similar to what one has seen before.
Is understanding definable?

It is difficult to define understanding. If we use the term concept as above, the question then arises as to what is a concept? Is it an abstract thing? Is it a brain pattern or a rule? Whatever definition is proposed, we can still ask how it is that we understand the thing that is featured in the definition: we can never satisfactorily define a concept, still less use it to explain understanding.

It may be more convenient to use an operational or behavioural definition, that is, to say that somebody who reacts appropriately to X understands X. For example, one understands Swahili if one correctly obeys commands given in that language. This approach, however, may not provide an adequate definition. A computer can easily be programmed to react appropriately to commands, but there is a disagreement as to whether or not the computer understands the language (see the Chinese room argument).

According to the independent socionics researcher Rostislav Persion:

    In the cognitive model presented by MBTI, the process of introverted thinking (Ti) is thought to represent understanding through cause and effect relationships or correlations. One can construct a model of a system by observing correlations between all the relevant properties (e.g. The output of a NAND gate relative to its inputs). This allows the person to generate truths about the system and then to apply the model to demonstrate his or her understanding. A mechanic for example may randomly, or algorithmically probe the inputs and outputs of a black box to understand the internal components through the use of induction. INTP, ISTP, ESTP, and ENTP all use Ti and are usually the best of the 16 types at understanding their material environment in a bottom-up manner. These types may enjoy mechanics and digital electronics because of the 1 to 1 correlation between cause and effect relationships in these fields. Understanding is not limited to these types however as other types demonstrate an identical process, although in other planes of reality; ie. Social, Theological and Aesthetic. A potential reason for the association of understanding with the former personality types is due to a social phenomenon for asymmetrical distribution of gratification. In the field of engineering, engineers probe or study the inputs and outputs of components to understand their functionality. These components are then combined based on their functionality (similar to computer programming) to create a larger, more complex system. This is the reason why engineers attempt to subdivide ideas as deep as possible to obtain the lowest level of knowledge. This makes their models more detailed and flexible. It may be useful to know the formulas that govern an ideal gas, but to visualise the gas as being made up of small moving particles, which are in turn made up of even smaller particles, is true understanding. People who are understanding (through the use of Ti) usually value objects and people based on usefulness, as opposed to the people who use extroverted thinking (Te) who view people or things as having a worth. In order to test one's understanding it is necessary to present a question that forces the individual to demonstrate the possession of a model, derived from observable examples of that model's production or potential production (in the case that such a model did not exist beforehand). Rote memorization can present an illusion of understanding, however when other questions are presented with modified attributes within the query, the individual cannot create a solution due to a lack of a deeper representation of reality.
Another significant[citation needed] point of view holds that knowledge is the simple awareness of bits of information. Understanding is the awareness of the connection between the individual pieces of this information. It is understanding which allows knowledge to be put to use. Therefore, understanding represents a deeper level than simple knowledge.

Gregory Chaitin, a noted computer scientist, propounds a view that comprehension is a kind of data compression. In his essay 'The Limits of Reason', he argues that 'understanding' something means being able to figure out a simple set of rules that explains it. For example, we 'understand' why day and night exist because we have a simple model - the rotation of the earth - that explains a tremendous amount of data - changes in brightness, temperature, and atmospheric composition of the earth. We have 'compressed' a large amount of information by using a simple model that predicts it. Similarly, we 'understand' the number 0.33333... by thinking of it as one-third. The first way of representing the number requires an infinite amount of memory; but the second way can produce all the data of the first representation, but uses much less information. Chaitin argues that 'comprehension' is this ability to compress data.

The concepts of comprehension, thought and understanding are also used in the short science fiction story Understand by Ted Chiang.

Understanding in the Kabbalah or Cabala "Tree of Life" of Judaism:

Binah, (meaning "Understanding"), in the Kabbalah of Judaism, is the second intellectual Sephirah on the tree of life. It sits on the level below Keter (in the formulations that include that Sephirah), across from Chokmah and directly above Gevurah. It is usually given four paths: to Keter, Chockmah, Gevurah, and Tiphereth (some Kabbalists place a path from Binah to Chesed as well.) In an anthropomorphic visualization, it may be alternatively related to the "left eye", "left hemisphere" of "the brain" or the "heart."

Binah is "processed wisdom," also known as deductive reasoning. It is davar mitoch davar -- understanding one idea from another idea. While Chockmah is intellect that does not emanate from the rational process (it is either inspired or taught), Binah is the rational process that is innate in the person which works to develop an idea fully.

Binah is associated with the feminine. This feminine association is not just used amongst the modern movements. “For you shall call Understanding a Mother.” This point was reflected in the Jewish Kabbalistic work Bahir. Classical Jewish texts state Binah yeterah natun l'nashim ("an extra measure of Binah was given to women").

In its fully articulated form, Binah possesses two partzufim: the higher of these is referred to as Imma Ila'ah ("the higher mother"), whereas the lower is referred to as Tevunah ("comprehension"). These two partzufim are referred to jointly as Imma ("the mother").


  1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
  2. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
  3. Chaitin, Gregory (2006), The Limits Of Reason
  4. Bahir, translated by Aryeh Kaplan (1995). Aronson. (ISBN 1-56821-383-2)
  5. Wikipedia.org - the free encyclopedia


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