Letters To Seneca – Letter 19

Dear Seneca,

Today I want to share some thoughts about the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge. I’m sure as you know the main difference is that tacit knowledge is experienced (i.e. building, programming, etc.), while explicit knowledge is easily transferred (i.e. books, conversations, etc.).

I realized that explicit knowledge only gets you so far while reading about the Stoic and Buddhist practices. I’ve understood this in the past, but it was an intellectual understanding, not an experiential one. Through the practice of dissociating myself from my chaotic mind, I’ve begun to truly understand and experience this tacit knowledge.

I decided to name my brain Alfred (hat tip to Batman). You may ask, why. By naming my mind it allows me to create more distance at the moment when observing my thoughts. I’m giving that other entity a label, something to draw a line between me and my mind.

Whenever I’m observant of my thoughts I thank Alfred for his input, then just observe. I don’t try to ignore him, remove them, or anything else, I just observe. This practice of observing my thoughts randomly throughout the day has transformed from explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge.

As a person that’s focused and placed more weight on explicit knowledge throughout his life, encountering this shift to tacit knowledge has been interesting. The learning happens where no one else can see, it’s just me and Alfred. That’s a special experience.