All of us have heard these expressions:
“He has a shallow understanding of the subject” or “He is a shallow thinker”
“He has a deep understanding of the subject” or “He is a deep thinker”
But what does it mean when someone says: “He has a shallow understanding of the subject” or “He is a shallow thinker”
And what does it mean when someone says: “He has a deep understanding of the subject” or “He is a deep thinker”
How does one determine if an understanding is shallow or deep? How does one determine if an individual is a shallow or deep thinker?
There is a negative connotation to the former. Being labeled as having a “shallow understanding” or a “shallow thinker” is not something to be desired. So it would be useful to know what these expressions mean.
I will now try to characterize shallow versus deep understanding and thinking.
1. Understanding the interconnectedness: few (if any) things live in isolation. Press here and it affects things over there, and they in turn affect things down there, and so forth. A shallow thinker does not fully realize the impact of a decision or action on other things. A shallow thinker just looks at first-order effects (i.e. “press here and it affects things over there”; that’s as far as the shallow thinker goes, he doesn’t continue with how “the things over there in turn affect things down there, and so forth”). Conversely, a deep thinker looks at the whole chain of impacts.
2. Read a book once and you have a shallow understanding. Read a book multiple times, take notes, summarize each key concept … now you have a deep understanding.
3. Many things have general characteristics. For example, Democrats are in general pro-life and the Republicans are in general pro-choice. Making a decision or judgment based on generalities is shallow thinking. Making a decision or judgment based on specifics is deep thinking. For example, judging a politician based on the party he belongs to is shallow thinking; judging based on his specific viewpoints is deep thinking.
How else would you characterize shallow versus deep understanding/thinking? I invite your (deep) thinking on this subject.