It is said that “a little learning is a dangerous thing”. It means that ‘superficial knowledge is worse than ignorance’. A person with little or no learning is very often seen to be vain, as he tries to show that he knows more than he does. He attempt is to pass for a scholar in polite society.
We should try to understand its true essence of the proverb. No knowledge, whether great or small, is bad. A man with little education is much better that an illiterate person. It is not the little knowledge but the pride (vanity or egoism) of learning that poses danger to a person.
If a person is humble enough to accept the fact that he knows little, then such learning is of much benefit for him and for the society. Such person who seek advice of learned people, are not dangerous people.
The importance of the proverb is highlighted as follows:
- Humility. This proverb reminds us to be humble about our learning.
- Encouragement. The proverb encourages us to keep on learning.
- Caution. Do we really know enough to take action?
- Perspective. Knowing just a few facts gives us a skewed perspective on the world.
- Explanation. The proverb helps to explain why some people do dangerous things: they have the illusion that they know more than they do.
It must be noted that a little learning is not harmful in itself, but if it seeks to pass off for great learning, it deceives and misleads the world. It is this pretension that turns a person with a little learning into a quack, who is always a danger to society.
Of course, learning, though very little, is better than no learning at all. Learning, whether great or little, is always a beneficial thing. The pride of learning, however, is a very dangerous thing.