About Sapience

Sapience is the quality of being knowledgeable, intelligent, or wise. Development of this quality in the highest sense is this site's reason for being.


Sapience Knowledge Base

The major portion of this web site is the Knowledge Base, which is an encyclopedic, topically organized, cross linked outline of knowledge. The best way to become familiar with it is to use it and follow the links. It is necessarily incomplete and superficial in many details, and the emphasis is in content rather than form. In many subjects, there is more outline than content and coverage is superficial. It is a work in progress, and the work of linking and adding connections and information will continue.

The principles of the web site include, first, a hierarchical organization of knowledge. I find it useful to begin with a general overview before going into the details of a subject: As one follows the links, knowledge of an area becomes more specific and specialized. Since all areas of knowledge are related, (although not necessarily directly), I also include with each subject connections to aids, which may help the studies of particular areas. Sometimes, the aids are more extensive than the original area. Another principle is an ordering of subjects. Wherever possible, subjects are organized from more complex to simpler and more fundamental.

Independent Learning Forum

A discussion board for self-educators: Presently inactive.

From the Ground

From the Ground is my blog, an on-line semi-intellectual journal.

What's New

As new features are added and policies adopted, I will attempt to include reference to them.


The desire to read, study, and learn has been one of my governing desires since my earliest memories. When I was bored in school, I browsed the textbook. If there was nothing else to read, I went to the dictionary and the encyclopedia. When I couldn't afford to pay tuition, I went to the library.

I had an early interest in science and engineering. In high school I found I was good at mathematics and logic, and developed an interest in computer programming in BASIC. I attempted to major in Chemical engineering and studied calculus based physics and university level chemistry. I worked in surveying for a year, gaining some experience with practical applications of mathematics, and spent 2 years on an LDS mission in Bolivia and gained some fluency in Spanish, as well as some familiarity with non-US culture.

When I found difficulty with employment, I began a more serious program of independent study. I had limited access to an Apple II Computer and began digging into the operating system and 6502 assembly language programming, which was followed by studies of Motorola 6800 programming on the Atari ST, and 80x86 programming on the IBM PC and its successors. I also taught myself the basics of Pascal and C, and did more formal study of C++. I also began reading in mathematical logic, set theory, and mathematical structure, and studied astronomy, earth science, and chemistry, and other areas of knowledge, following my curiosity wherever it led me. I found myself increasingly frustrated by the fragmentation of knowledge, when my curiosity led me into the literature of specialists that I lacked the vocabulary and concepts to understand.

Efforts to decide on an occupation expanded from a classification of occupations to a more general classification of culture, to a more general outline of knowledge. I continued studies into computer programming, mathematics, mathematical logic, into sciences, and various other subjects.

In December 2003, the first version of the knowledge base went up on the Web.

In June 2006, a second version was begun, and development continued until about February 2013. A computer failure and the temporary loss of working data led to a complete rewrite. The third version was published in July 2014 and has had several updates. This will gradually be merged with the information on the (second) version.

Self education

Education is a journey. In the beginning, there are the pioneers of knowledge, who are exploring an unknown wilderness. There are dead ends, thickets, bogs, sharp rocks and sticks, pitfalls and traps, irritating pests, and sometimes dangerous predators. All of these physical dangers have intellectual equivalents.

As the explorers learn the safe paths through an unknown wilderness, they, or others, may take the trouble to make things easier for themselves or others who follow. They make maps and guides. They follow and mark routes that avoid the dangers, or they clear out some of them, and organize a subject so that it becomes easier to learn and master. Some become guides, leading others, singly or in groups, through the wilderness.

Eventually the wilderness becomes civilized; there are roads and even highways, along which crowds of people travel. Formal education, then, consists of groups of students led by a teacher traveling together along such a marked path. Often, just off the well marked path, there is still wilderness. Solitary exploratory behavior such as running ahead, lagging behind, and taking side trips is discouraged. Groups progress in a linear fashion: they don't often have the luxury of backtracking to review a particular point. Finally, they ignore many possibly interesting side roads.

Furthermore, if knowledge is like a countryside, there are towns and villages. Those who reside in or work in a given area are more or less familiar with the local dangers, and know how to avoid them, whereas a newcomer and a stranger does not. Much of this knowledge is not included in guides. Veteran explorers use guides and maps, but they also know their limitations.

This guide, too, has limitations. It is incomplete and always will be, although it is in many respects a living, growing thing. It offers a unique combination of linear organization, building from the simple to the more complex, and the freedom to jump around. For one who gets lost following the crosslinks, there is always a way back to a known starting point. Since everyone brings different interests, experience, needs, and willingness to expend effort to learn, I cannot possibly prescribe a curriculum or course of study. The best I can do is provide a starting point and suggest ways to connect what you already do know to what you would like to know.

Self education is not for the idle or the casual. The analogy to exploration is quite real: It can be lonely, difficult, frustrating, and filled with nuisances and setbacks. Progress is often slow, and it's easy to get lost and confused. It is one thing to read a book, something else to write one. It is one thing to read a map, something else to make one. It is one thing to become familiar with a subject, something else to master it. Although this site may be helpful, in the end, learning is useless unless it can be translated into action.

I invite you to browse. Explore. Think about things. Ask questions. Take responsibility for your own education. Be sapient.


If you find errors on this site, please let me know: I am only human, and it is human to err and not know it. If you have a differing opinion, let me know: I've been wrong before and no doubt, will be again. If you have a question, ask: I may know more than I have been able to put on the site. If you don't find what you want, let me know, and your request will get a vote in the development process. If you have a suggestion, make it: Your idea may be better than anything I could come up with. And, if by chance you have something nice to say about the site, it won't hurt my feelings.

Products and services

Although this is primarily an educational site, it needs to be as self supporting as possible. There are three possibilities I am prepared to offer, and ideas for others are gestating.

One is the possibility of providing space for advertising, provided that it is on a reserved "commercials" page and visitors have the choice to see it or not. At present my advertising policies are unwritten and informal.

There are other more specialized subjects I have some experience with, which the site has not caught up to. I have several years of experience tutoring algebra and trigonometry at the high school and college level, up to and including calculus.

I am also willing to consult on the organization of smaller, more specialized knowledge bases.

For more detailed information or arrangements, see the Contact Sapience page.

© 2014 - 2015 Thad Coons
Latst updated 22 Apr 2015