Mao on the importance of practice
Mao writes in detail about the conception of knowledge within the dialectical historical view in ON PRACTICE. To summarize some points briefly, Mao notes both perceptual knowledge (first hand experience, sense perception) and rational knowledge (logic) are necessary, and cannot be separated from each other like certain schools of thought (empiricists, among others) tend to do. We are not beings totally devoid of worldly experiences, or devoid of abstract thought either. Separating rational philosophy into a different school of thought is unwise, as sense perception grounds our very existence. And as material, social beings, our education relies on acquiring and distilling experiences. Thus “there can be no knowledge apart from practice” as “knowledge begins with experience–this is the materialism of the theory of knowledge.” Unpracticed theory is unfulfilled theory, hence Lenin’s statement that “Practice is higher than (theoretical) knowledge, for it has not only the dignity of universality, but also of immediate actuality.” Mao ends with a guide on how to start practicing:
Discover the truth through practice, and again through practice verify and develop the truth. Start from perceptual knowledge and actively develop it into rational knowledge; then start from rational knowledge and actively guide revolutionary practice to change both the subjective and the objective world. Practice, knowledge, again practice, and again knowledge. This form repeats itself in endless cycles, and with each cycle the content of practice and knowledge rises to a higher level. Such is the whole of the dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge, and such is the dialectical-materialist theory of the unity of knowing and doing.