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The 3 knowledge realms for problem solving

2,000 years ago, Aristotle explained that distinct types of thinking are required to address problems in three realms of knowledge: Techne (Craft, Art), Episteme (Science, Knowledge), Phronesis (Wisdom).

If you’re a software engineer implementing an agile process, you’re in the techne realm. If you’re an astronomer wondering why galaxies rotate the way they do, you’re in the epistemic realm. If you’re a policymaker deciding how to allocate limited funds, you’re in the phronesis realm.

Every time you face a problem, make sure to bring the right kind of thinking to solve it. If not, you’ll occasionally be left fruitlessly analyzing scientific data when what’s desperately needed is a values-informed judgment call. Or, just as bad, you’ll trust your instincts on a matter where a straightforward data analysis would expose how off-base your understanding is.

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