Discrimination is one of those words that automatically brings to mind a cultural and historical definition, usually associated with prejudice. When people use the word out of context, one usually assumes it refers to some kind of racial discrimination and often, hate-related actions. This is not the kind of discrimination I am talking about.
I’m referring to the ability of the individual to be able to discern necessary and relevant things from those that are not essential to the subject being considered. The ability to know what’s important from what’s not, as if discrimination is a part of wisdom we gain from learned experience or from some instinctual sense of what is right or wrong.
Very often, examinations that test reading comprehension or the ability to use facts (such as graphs) present the student with more facts than necessary to pick the right choice. So whether the correct choice is picked or not is directly associated with the students ability to discriminate not only the choices given but also the proper facts he needs to consider those choices.
In a previous essay – What Can I Know? How Much Can I Ever Know– I came to the conclusion that I should try to know what is necessary for the tasks at hand. To want more would only litter the landscape with more information than I need and make it easier to camouflage the things that are most relevant.
Many books of an esoteric nature, convey secrets that are hidden within a larger context of facts and details, intentionally placed to distract the reader from easily discovering those secrets. The basis of that reasoning is that wisdom is comprised of the ability to discriminate between what is important and what is not. What is Reality and what is Illusion. What is happening around us as opposed to what we think is happening around us.
Discrimination also relates to the ability to prioritize things and know how and when to change our priorities because events warrant a re-evaluation and an overall capability to navigate through information that give us what we need to establish our understanding of what we are navigating through.
Most of the crucial insights we remember are not the ones that were spelled out for us or were told to us by someone else. The ones with the most significance are those we got on our own, many of which involved some kind of discriminating line of thinking. It is important to remember discrimination as a higher principle, and not let the baser prejudices sway us from using its higher form whose intent is in transforming knowledge into wisdom.