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JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Have you ever reached a point in learning something where you see that it can never be fully learned?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5779points) March 2nd, 2010

I’ve arrived in an interesting place in my guitar learning… I’m learning many skills from someone that I can only describe as a master guitarist who has learned from other master guitarists around the world. I realize that I’d be considered an amazing guitarist by a 10 years younger me, or to a layman. But I also see what is still ahead of me and that I could play every day for the rest of my life and still never know it all. Similarly, my teacher could say the same thing, even though he’s leagues ahead of me in terms of skill. Have you encountered this as you strive to master a skill – that at least in your own mind, you can never truly be a master?

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31 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Yes, this is true of any discipline worth study.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@marinelife I would bet that’s true.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Not yet.At least not with my art.Learning and dicovering new things are what brings fun and excitement to it.There are things however,that I have just stopped caring about as much.

DarkScribe's avatar

Is this an oblique reference to Women’s studies?

njnyjobs's avatar

As time passes, things evolve that demand constant enhancement of one’s knowledge to continue learning and practicing whatever that discipline may be.

CMaz's avatar

Some people have a gift. Some are just good at it.

davidk's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre
Wow. Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I play the guitar as well, and it certainly is a good example of “the more you learn, the less you know.” I do think that people who tend not to see it the way you’ve described, those who are satisfied at some point along the way, stagnate in terms of their skill-set.

This really applies to all learning, as well as people’s attitude regarding learning. The people who think they know it all, have really just dead-ended themselves.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille See, I had a similar thing for a while where I thought, oh I know all I want to know about this. But then I got into a bit of a box where I was great at select range of guitar, but couldn’t really branch out. I’m not sure if that happens in other arts as much… like maybe there are less limitations to begin with so it’s not a bad thing to ignore other parts. I never thought I’d care about classical guitar, for example, but now I’m getting into it and it’s improving my overall practice so much that I can’t believe I’d ignored it for so long.

@DarkScribe Ha!

@njnyjobs I think about this in terms of the growth of individuals as well as humanity’s growth… how we go about passing on knowledge and what we leave behind.

@ChazMaz and some hate their gift… or at least the ways it’s usually expressed. Guitar is not the thing I’m best at, but I don’t really enjoy what I do best.

@davidk I think that’s really true… Maybe some of us will just never be satisfied, and that’s a self critique to an extent, but one with a positive result.

ETpro's avatar

Web development technology. It expands faster than I am able to absorb all the stuff out there. It’s a fun ride, though.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DarkScribe yeah, he is not the kind to passive aggressively mention subjects – if he wants to talk about Women’s studies, he just will

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well I realize that when it comes to tango, I will never be as good as the person who is my favorite and an inspiration – this is because she dances Tango for a career and I am going to be a sociologist for my career – I understand that in order to be as good as her, I’d have to devote my life to dance and that is not what I have chosen to do – so I strive to improve on my own skill but it doesn’t bother me that I will never reach the levels that some can.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@ETpro Yep – that’s true, there you definitely run the risk of falling behind at much greater speed, at least until this web thing becomes mundane like TV.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I wonder what she thinks – if she sees herself as a master or if she looks to someone else… and even if you’re the best in the world… does that just inevitably frustrate you, that to further your skill might be impossible, or does it cause you to reach out to other masters and bring the art in a new direction?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre I don’t think anyone thinks they are the absolute expert – I think everyone always has another person that they hold in esteem – usually an older master.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Probably true, but that implies that we’re losing knowledge from one generation to the next, when I know that’s not true… I might be making accidentally stumbling into a new question…

ucme's avatar

Women,just when you think you’ve got them figured out.Learning all the time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre No, it’s not true – people perceive themselves to have less skill when they actually have it and more when they don’t.

Cruiser's avatar

I think that is the point in ones pursuit of an art or discipline that would be called “enlightenment” much in the same way a “master” becomes a master of that art. That point in the learning process where you realize the inherent limitations of being able to learn or master everything there possibly is to learn and become accepting of your own abilities to be the best they will be of that art or discipline.

mattbrowne's avatar

Oh, yes. Above all, quantum physics.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Cruiser I suppose we naturally hone in on things we feel we can do, and then sometimes we get pushed out of our comfort zone and realize there’s a big world out there… very much could be described as an enlightenment moment.

liminal's avatar

Yes. When I reach for knowledge and experience I am not reaching for completion, but immersion and expansion, to my mind, this has no end.

I think the mark of a master is as you stated: understanding that one can immerse themselves in something for a life time, never know it all, yet never stops discovering, pushing, reaching. Mastering something isn’t necessarily a hierarchal climb, it is a living breathing process steeped in passion, openness, determination and wresting. Some are masters simply because they have gone deeper than us.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Thanks @liminal GA, as I’ve come to expect from you.

liminal's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre I can say the same of you.

noelasun's avatar

I also believe that this is true in all quests to master something; ¬†and I also believe that the greatest contributions to whatever field of study can happen only after a person has reached this point. When you learn everything of a study that can be taught, and then go on to ask your own new questions to challenge or push what we know or don’t know- that is when someone truely deserves to be called a master. (it’s also when new knowledge can be brought into the field.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre @liminal you two can get a room..in my house

thriftymaid's avatar

Theology and law.

Christian95's avatar

That’s why a vast skill is divided in subskills
e.g You can never say you know everything about Physics but you can meet people who can say they know everything about Newtonian Mechanics or Thermodynamics etc
I think it’s exactly in the guitar skill you can never say you know everything about playing guitar but if you can say you know everything about playing pentatonic scales

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@Christian95 Or at least say I think I know everything about the pentatonic mode. Then someone comes along and shows you something new.

ninjacolin's avatar

awesome question but no, i’m pretty sure i know everything there is to know about anything. :)

mrjadkins's avatar

If you look at Wikipedia – it is the social encyclopedia recording the human history. Will it ever be “complete”? Nope. Each day there are new stories written from new authors contributing to the growing history taking place on the frontside and backside of the wiki.

I work in education and I encourage teachers and students to use Wikipedia not just for the information that defines certain articles; but to access the “discussions” taking place by the authors submitting their facts for the articles.

As part of a social and growing collaboration network, we can never learn everything. The best thing we can do is encourage the passion to keep learning anything.

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