How to know if you've truly understood something


That's a difficult question as learning something doesn't necessarily mean understanding it.

At school, we test children by examination of their knowledge; they have to show that they remember some physical laws, for example. They have to be able to compute the speed of an accelerating car and so on... But does that mean that they really understand the subject? They mostly don't, I dare say.

Understanding is best shown when you can independently use the knowledge to solve a problem you've never seen before. Not a "textbook example", but a real-life problem you couldn't study beforehand. Still, even that may be because you only spotted a pattern, not because you really deeply understood the problem, or you simply got lucky trying things out. That might be filtered out by repeating such a test with different instances and measuring consistency of the outcome, though. Still, that's only statistical evidence, not a proof.

So how do we know? We probably never do, but based on the outcome, we may assume. That's typically enough.


There are two surefire ways to know whether or not you understand something:

  1. prove it using first-order logic or some other formal sysem;
  2. implement it in software.

If you can do one or the other of those, then, chances are, you understand it!


Although we usually think that we need to understand things intellectually, with our minds, in truth it is not so.

We are primarily sentient creatures, driven by the desire for pleasure. We perceive the world around us through "emotional mapping", building a "love-hate" relationship with anything we get into contact with.

Our mind, intellect is secondary, only acting as a sorting, cataloging, analyzing device over the emotional impressions we receive.

So we truly "understand with our hearts". We understand something when we live through it, immerse in it through complete, emotional involvement. Pure intellectual "understanding" is simply philosophy without substance.

When The Heart Understands | Laitman.com

Make Your Heart Understand | Laitman.com


Hello Jim ! The old adage goes, (Be sure, that you're Sure, that you're Sure) ! This is a Fail safe Reaction to ensuring that you've Got something ! This is very important in that, Depending on What Determines the LEVEL of attention that needs to be put into something to be sure. But when You've got that Gut Feeling, You're 100% right on, and You're point on, and Got that 2nd clarification, Then you Have GOT IT!


You will know  that you have completely understood something when:
  1. You can explain it thoroughly to others.
  2. You will try to go ahead and know more about it.
  3. You can easily give seminars and presentations on it.
  4. Most importantly, You can confidently make it understand to a person who has zero knowledge about it.

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