Knowledge is a delicate thing to determine, and is often misunderstood to be the same as information. This past week I have struggled to try and define the blurred line that separates the two ideas in a sensible order.
At the beginning of my conquest I had assumed that information laid hand in hand with knowledge. I though by holding one, you must also have the other. This path swiftly fell apart as I came to see the plot holes within my own theory. Information itself is defined by merriam-webster.com as
“facts provided or learned about something or someone”
I am unsure whether this is the most accurate definition of information, I feel it is a general statement that could be applied to all information therefore valuable for the understanding of this post. This definition proves to be problematic for my assumptions, as knowledge reaches far beyond facts. Though the definition of knowledge is arguable itself, I would like to give a rough definition labelling it as an applicable understanding. This would mean not all knowledge requires information, nor does all information result in knowledge.
This is the revised version of how I have come to understand the process that defines simple information from knowledge.
Premise One – if information is only useful when stimulated
Information may lay stagnant in many ways. whether in books, genetics, or muscle memory; unused information is not constructive. By stimulating information, or creating a need for it, information soon becomes important. A book on how to replace lightbulbs may lay unread in a library for years, until someone needs to learn how to put in new lights creates a need for the information stored, and reads the book. This works in all aspects of life, whether it is a fight or flight reflex that exists in all generations of humans and may not be used for years on end, or the muscle memory of how to ride a bike, once the information is needed, it becomes useful.
Premise Two – if knowledge is applicable information
a metaphor for knowledge?
This statement is where I could find the distinction between information and knowledge. To help explain this point am using an example used by Mr.Jackson in class the other day about building furniture. Pretend you have just bought a chair from Ikea, and now need to assemble it. in this scenario, we are going to pretend you have no prior experience to the function of nor building process of chairs. your chair has come with an instruction manual and you therefore have all the information you need to set up said chair. Knowledge when you have a full comprehension of how to build your chair. For some people this may require building the chair (learning kinesthetically), whereas others have a full understanding by in depth studying of the manual and internal comprehension. Either way you now have knowledge of how to build your chair because if you were required to build a duplicate chair you could.
Information is not to the same level of comprehension. In this example, I am going to use the manual once again as information. Now the manual is in a foreign language. All the information is in front of you, but you are unable to build the chair and apply this information because you cannot understand it, and have no prior exposure or information. this creates a theoretical situation where due to the inapplicable information, we cannot create knowledge.
Conclusion – Then, for knowledge to be gained, information must be stimulated and applied.
When information is applied, it becomes knowledge, but before this basic step happens, information first requires stimulation. By inquiry or necessity, a need for information is stimulated, and the conquest to turn this information into applicable learning and eventually knowledge will begin.
One of the reasons I am comfortable with this statement has a lot to do with the philosophies of Kant, and his view on how we gain knowledge. Kant believed that most of our aposteriori ( gained after birth) knowledge comes from exposure to new experience. This closely relates to the way my conclusion states knowledge must come from a stimulation. without the need for new knowledge in new experiences and environments, a lack of inquiry leads to no new stimulation nor exposure to new information. With no new information needed or stimulated, we do not gain knowledge.
Looking back on my previous work, I can see how this truth of knowledge has changed my life, without me even recognizing it was there. In my Plato’s cave post I had talked about how I arrived on Hiada Gwaii and was put into complete culture shock as the common poverty and different ways of life had completely changed my perspective. This not only included my views on how others less privileged than I live, but also how we could support their culture and aid in making Canada and overall better place for everyone who lives here. By exposing myself to this new experience and stimulating inquiry of the world around me, I could gain a better knowledge of how to be respectful and helpful to the community.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and the knowledge I gained along the way.it is important to remember that without the inquisition and stimulation that comes with new experiences, it is difficult to apply what you know and gain knowledge.