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Thanks for the post. 

Your concerns are quite similar to Michael Polanyi's ideas about the primacy of tacit knowledge, how the explicit knowledge we have — is built on a layer of hard-won tacit knowledge.

It gets even harder when the material you're working with is other human beings, because there one doesn't have quite as crisp a 'reality' to juxtapose with your own understanding. 

I tried to express that in this piece which, mentions ladders — which lines up nicely with your stairs ;)

If you — or anyone else — is still keeping an eye on this thread, I'd be interested in your reaction.

It's also a pity these posts haven't kept going. I loved this one.