“Knowledge cumulates in the sciences, but not in the humanities.”
“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it
in a fruit salad". ― Anonymous
"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I
understand" ― Confucius
The dictionary defines knowledge as
information, understanding or skills that is acquired through experience or education”.
Similarly, scientific knowledge is knowledge based on theories, principles and
laws based on observations in the world.
The study of knowledge is called epistemology where philosophers debate
and mediate its definition. The classical definition of knowledge begins with Plato who defined knowledge as “justified true
To simplify the bewildering ways to classify knowledge the Golden
Seat categorizes knowledge into three types: Personal, Conceptual and Procedural. Learning
knowledge can be generalized into two groups: Passive Learning (listening, seeing, reading) and Active
Learning (talking, writing, doing). All the three knowledge types use a mix of passive and active
learning with and emphasis of one over of the other.
Personal knowledge is knowledge by acquaintance or familiarity. For
instance, to know our next door neighbor, to know the city Florence,
Italy or when we say things like, “I know impressionistic
paintings”. Another name for Personal Knowledge is Situational
Knowledge. In "Personal Knowledge" Michael
Polanyi voices the idea that all knowledge claims (including those which are derived from
rules) rely on personal judgments.
The second type of knowledge is conceptual knowledge (also known
as ‘declarative’, ‘propositional’ or ‘descriptive’ knowledge). Conceptual Knowledge is a broad category
that includes facts, concepts and principles. In addition to Personal Knowledge, all knowledge starts
out Conceptual Knowledge. It is the “knowing of” something or “knowing why” something happens or
acts in a particular way.
In regards to the Physical
Sciences, an example of conceptual knowledge is understanding Newton’s 2nd law of
motion: the vector sum of the forces on an object equals the mass of the object multiplied by the
acceleration of the object (F=ma).
Procedural knowledge is “know how” or "know what" knowledge.
Cooking recipes or step-by-step instructions are examples of procedural knowledge. Other examples
include: learning to ride a bicycle, drive a car, play the piano, to hit a nail with a hammer or how
tight to make a bandage. The Procedural Knowledge ‘toolbox’ contains facts, skills, procedures,
algorithms or methods. It is very involved with the senses: hands-on experience like
On-the-Job-Training (OJT), practice at solving problems, understanding the limitations of a specific
solution. Philosophers refer to knowledge from experience as “empirical
knowledge”. When we claim to know how to juggle,
how to drive or how to create a web site, we are not simply claiming that we understand the theory involved,
but that we actually possess the skills involved to do those things.
Back to our knowledge of Newton’s 2nd law of motion, with this
concept, Procedural Knowledge could then be created to solve specific mechanical-energy problems.
Note: Conceptual Knowledge (and some personal) was required first.
“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they
are.” W. Somerset
In regards to the Humanities, translating
personal or conceptual knowledge to rule-based procedural knowledge can never be exact science.
Fortunately, that is a good thing. Poetry is said to be the great language, because poetry is the art of
saying of what can't be said – trying to describe the indescribable. In art, allegory is often the rhetorical device to illustrate complex ideas and concepts,
sometimes easily digestible and oftentimes the allegory is mysterious like the bird in Raphael’s
“Madonna of the
No doubt, there
is endless debate on that if a song, poem or novel is created with a process it is ‘tainted’. If one is
sincere and serious about their art then one should be free to use informal or formal processes, and most likely it
will be a mix to get that desired special result.