THE IDEA OF KNOWLEDGE

 

There are ways in which we do things and reasons why we do them but how do we know to do a said thing. How are we programmed to be conscious of the information we possess and use it to better our lives?

Norman, again, in his writing The Design of Everyday Things suggests that there are 4 types of knowledge, that fall into 2 pairs. ‘Knowledge in the world’ with ‘knowledge of the head’ and ‘knowledge of’ with ‘knowledge how’.

For example, knowledge in the world refers to the markings on a road; knowledge which physically exists on the face of the earth. On the other hand knowledge in the head would be your mental understanding of what these markings mean. Without one another knowledge in the world could be deemed meaningless and vice versa, they provide context for one another. They can also be transferred, knowledge that was once in the head can be given to the world, e.g. theories and understandings and what is in the world can be taken into the head through avenues such as reading.

Knowledge either exists in the world or in the head, therefore, is knowledge original, can it be created, or is it simply can extension of what already exists? In the same way of questioning whether any idea can ever be truly original, can any knowledge exist without once being either in the world or the head. In a similar instance, knowledge in the world does not have to be true or vast, it just has to be present. French philosopher, Descartes suggested that ‘…in which nothing that is perceived or sensed is necessarily true. The only thing that remains true that there is a mind or consciousness doing the doubting and believing its perceptions…’ (New Learning, no date) which led to the famous idea ‘I think, therefore I am’. If we were to strip away all knowledge in the head and in the world, would the only basic form of knowledge that we would be left with, be our ability to think and acquire thought?

The second pair of knowledge, ‘knowledge of’ and knowledge how’ considers the manner in which we acquire knowledge. Knowledge of is the transferral of knowledge instantly from one thing to another. This knowledge maintains its quality as it is passed from thing to thing. Whereas, in contrast, knowledge how requires more input from the receiver. This knowledge cannot be transferred, it is the knowledge that is required through practice. As an example, the scenario of a piano lesson would include both types of knowledge, knowledge of in the sense that the teacher tells the student which key is which but also knowledge how in that, despite the student knowing this information, he/she will not simply be able to automatically play the piano. I question whether there are levels of knowledge how? A piece written on Changingminds.org (2016) states (knowledge how)…’not only means the person knows how to do something; it also means that they are able to perform the job to a practical, operational level…’ I feel that it is a common belief that some people can pick up skills easier than others, but does this come down to past experiences, the traits we have or is it because we have advanced levels of knowledge how? This leads to question the issues within teaching. Can providing the same ‘knowledge of’ to a wide variety of people be deemed as unfair to then ask them to carry out the same ‘knowledge how’ task with the information they have received.

Knowledge, through these theories, can be expressed as a noun, a physical idea that can exist in a variety of contexts. However, is knowledge subjective? What exists in knowledge of one person may be considered even greater in that of another.

-ChangingMinds.org (2016) Four Knowledge Capability Levels. Available at: http://changingminds.org/explanations/learning/four_knowledge.htm .                             -New Learning (no date) Descartes: ‘I Think Therefore I Am’. Available at: http://newlearningonline.com/new-learning/chapter-7/descartes-i-think-therefore-i-am