The Annotated Art of War (Parts 13.4-6: Foreknowledge)
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Annotated Art of War > Parts 13.4-6: Foreknowledge
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XIII. The Use of Spies
|Sun Tzu said:
4. Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and
conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.
||Knowledge is at the
heart of all good decisions. Foreknowledge is knowing of future
events. When this is not fully feasible, you can learn to forecast
useful things such as the weather and the likely behaviors of opponents.
What you should seek most of all is their very real strengths, deployment and plans.
When you have real intelligence, this always beats vague guesswork.
|5. Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits; it cannot be
obtained inductively from experience, nor by any deductive calculation.
||You can be bold and
brash and have as much gut-feel as you like but if you do not base
your decisions on sound data you are simply gambling.
reasoning, if it is based on bad knowledge, will be fruitless.
'Garbage in, garbage out', as they say.
|6. Knowledge of the enemy's dispositions can only be obtained from other men.
||The enemy does not
want you to know anything about them, just as you will jealously
guard your own information and plans.
If you cannot get the
knowledge by fair means, it must be gained by subterfuge, including
the employment of spies and double agents.