What is knowledge?

We explain what knowledge is, what elements make it possible and what types exist. In addition, the theory of knowledge.

  1. What is knowledge?

It is very difficult to define knowledge or set its conceptual limits. Most of the approaches to what it is always depend on the philosophical and theoretical perspective that one possesses, given that there is knowledge related to all branches of human knowledge, and also to all areas of experience.

Even knowledge itself serves as a subject of study: the branch of philosophy that studies it is known as Theory of Knowledge.

Commonly, we understand by knowledge the mental, cultural and even emotional process, through which reality is reflected and reproduced in thought , based on various types of experiences, reasoning and learning . One or more of the following elements may be included in this concept:

  • Facts or information that learned by someone and understood through experience, education , theoretical or experimental reflection.
  • The totality of the intellectual content and the knowledge that one has regarding a specific field of reality.
  • The familiarity and awareness that is obtained regarding a given event, after having experienced it.
  • Everything that can be thought of using the questions “how?”, “When?”, “Where?” And “why?”.
  1. Knowledge elements

Four elements of knowledge are usually recognized, which are those involved in the acquisition or formulation of any knowledge:

  • Subject . All knowledge is acquired by a subject, that is, it is part of an individual’s mental or intellectual baggage.
  • Object . Objects are all recognizable elements of reality , which serve the subject to form knowledge, that is, to formulate ideas, understand relationships, make thoughts. The subject alone, isolated from everything and everyone, cannot gain knowledge.
  • Cognitive operation . It is a complex neurophysiological process, which allows to establish the subject’s thinking around the object, that is, it allows the interaction between subject and object and their intellectual formulation in knowledge.
  • Thinking . Thought is difficult to define, but in this area we can understand it as the psychic “imprint” that the cognitive process leaves in the subject regarding its experience with the object. It is a mental representation of the object, inserted into a network of mental relationships that allow the existence of knowledge as such.
  1. Types of knowledge

empirical knowledge
Empirical knowledge is obtained through direct contact with the world.

There are many ways to classify knowledge, based on your specific area of ​​knowledge (for example: medical, chemical , biological , mathematical , artistic , etc.), or on its nature and how it is acquired. According to the latter, we would have:

  • Theoretical knowledge . Those that come from an interpretation of the reality or experiences of third parties, that is, indirectly, or through conceptual mediations such as books, documents, films, explanations, etc. Of this type are scientific , philosophical and even religious beliefs .
  • Empirical knowledge . These are those that we obtain directly, from our experience of the universe and the memories that we have left of it. This type of knowledge constitutes the basic framework of “rules” on how the world operates, which in some cases may become non-transferable, such as spatial, abstract knowledge and that linked to perceptions .
  • Practical knowledge . These are those that allow to obtain an end or perform a concrete action, or that serve to model the behavior . They are usually learned by imitation or theoretically, but can only really be incorporated when they are put into practice. This is the case of technical, ethical or political knowledge .

Finally, we can also talk about formal knowledge: those that come from the course of a teaching institution , such as school, university, etc .; and informal knowledge: those acquired on the fly, in life , without involving a particular teaching dynamic.

  1. Knowledge theory

The theory of knowledge is one of the branches of philosophy, which focuses on the study of human knowledge , in its different meanings. Depending on the academic perspective of the study, the theory of knowledge can be considered as a synonym for gnoseology or epistemology .

In the first case, the very nature of knowledge is studied: its origin, its limits, etc .; while in the second case the historical, psychological or sociological circumstances that define the acquisition of knowledge are studied, as well as the strategies used to validate knowledge or, on the contrary, to invalidate it.

  1. Knowledge society

The term “Knowledge Society” arose from the tremendous cultural impact that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in contemporary human culture, formulated by Austrian Peter Drucker.

Knowledge societies are those that incorporate ICT and all its hyper communicative potential into the daily life of the social, cultural and economic relations of its community. This facilitates new schemes of total communication , which overcome the barriers of time and space.

However, this term should not be confused with that of the Information Society , given that the latter is only an instrument of knowledge, composed of facts and events. In other words, it does not necessarily cover the interpretation and understanding of information by people.

An information society is just one that allows information exchange, while a knowledge society is one that uses information to transform its social, economic and cultural reality in pursuit of a sustainable development model .

  1. Knowledge management

This concept comes from English Knowledge Management , and is used daily in the world of companies and organizations . Knowledge management is understood as the specific way of managing information and knowledge resources .

Its objective is that specialized knowledge is transferred to the place where it will be used or put into practice, that is, that it does not remain only in the place where it is generated.

This organizational perspective has the advantage of understanding knowledge as one of the most valuable assets of an organization. Therefore, it proposes its dissemination as a way to promote the development of business skills.

Consequently, as knowledge flows, it generates new structures of knowledge and brings new powers to the organization. For this reason, knowledge should be administered based on tactical, operational and strategic precepts within a given company.

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