Only firsthand experience can validate or challenge our intuitions

“Saint Augustine declared that “the world is a book, and those who have not traveled have read only one page.” Only firsthand experience can validate or challenge our intuitions, giving us confidence about risky political decisions in a complex world of instant feedback loops and unintended consequences. During travel, perception and thought merge; a contradiction can emerge as a truth to be revealed, not some exception to be disproved. Such ambiguity is the corollary of complexity, after all. Reality is famously resistant to theories that measure the world according to what it should be rather than how it really is. Instead, exploring the patterns of the second world aesthetically, honoring the value of purely sensory judgments — this exposes characteristics that are common to the entire second world; differences are revealed to be more relative than absolute.”
–Parag Khanna, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (2008)

Posted by | Comments (8)  | June 29, 2009
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

8 Responses to “Only firsthand experience can validate or challenge our intuitions”

  1. Chris Says:

    Yes. If you try to reduce your experience of others or the world to your own theoretical projections, you miss out on the wild, evolving, pulsing, living, and often beautifully complex truth of “what is.”

  2. Cath Duncan Says:

    Great quote. I’ll look out for the book.

    I think the world is now too fast-paced for us to continue to place so much emphasis on theory and knowing before we start living and doing.

    The most successful in this era are those who prioritise action and real-world feedback over perfect plans and research on paper.


  3. Louise King Says:

    Hi…I know it sounds a bit randomn, but what page is this quote from in Khanaas’ book? I need it ASAP for an assignment as I want to use this quote. Please reply!

  4. Rolf Says:

    This section of Khanna’s book was excerpted at World Hum: