What is knowledge

Knowledge is the action and effect of knowing, that is, of acquiring valuable information to understand reality through reason, understanding and intelligence. It refers, then, to what results from a learning process.

Knowledge can be referred to in several senses. In its most general sense, the word knowledge refers to the information accumulated on a certain topic or subject. In a more specific sense, knowledge is defined as the set of abilities, skills, mental processes and information acquired by the individual, whose function is to help him interpret reality, solve problems and direct his behavior.

The word knowledge comes from the Latin knowformed by the prefix withwhich means ‘all’ or ‘together’, and the word ignore.

As a phenomenon, knowledge has been studied since Classical Antiquity, and it is an important area within philosophical, psychological and scientific studies in general.

Characteristics and properties of knowledge

  • Knowledge is always cultural, that is, it forms culture.
  • Knowledge is usually capable of being expressed and transmitted through language.
  • In this sense, knowledge is codified, that is, it requires a code or language for its communication.
  • It guides the thinking, behavior and decision-making processes of human beings.
  • It is a complex phenomenon determined by biological, psychological and social variables.

How is knowledge acquired?

Knowledge is built from early childhood and accompanies the person’s development process, influencing their behavior and ability to solve problems. Knowledge originates through sensory perception, from where it reaches understanding, and from there it passes to the rational process of analysis and coding of information.

We must say, however, that the process of building knowledge is extremely complex and attends to many variables, which is why there are various schools dedicated to the formulation of a theory of knowledge. Some of the authors who have studied this phenomenon in our era are Jean Piaget, through his theory of cognitive development, and Lev Vygotsky, through his sociocultural theory.

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It is recognized that, on a general reading, the following elementary ways to acquire knowledge can be recognized. Let’s see.

  1. The authority: authority figures are an element for the transmission of knowledge, since they generate a vote of confidence in the social group. Applies from parents to children, from teachers to students, or from specialists in front of a curious audience.
  2. The tradition: knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation, and in this way it is consolidated in tradition. Thus, the individuals of a certain social group acquire knowledge through traditional social practices.
  3. The intuition: it is a kind of immediate understanding of an emerging issue, which allows you to decide appropriately.
  4. The experience: to the extent that the subject gains experience, he records and learns new information that allows him to face similar situations in the future.
  5. Scientific research: the exercise of seeking information in a systematic, structured and methodical way, that is, based on a scientific method, is a way of acquiring knowledge.

See also: sociocultural theory and abstraction.

Types of knowledge

In general terms, it can be said that there are two main types of knowledge: knowledge a priori and knowledge a posteriori.

  • Knowledge a priori: knowledge can be a priori when it is based on the process of personal reason or introspection to formulate, without being verified in experience.
  • Knowledge a posteriori: we speak of a posteriori knowledge when it arises from an experience, and that same experience becomes a validation of learning.

However, it is also possible to talk about other types of knowledge according to the learning method or the area of ​​knowledge. Let’s see some cases.

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Philosophical knowledge

Philosophical knowledge is obtained through speculative reflection on reality and dialogue, and is aimed at understanding the being and being of the subject. It can be said that it is rational, analytical, totalizing, critical and historical.

Empirical knowledge

Empirical knowledge is what is obtained through one’s own palpable experience, although it does not imply a method of study but rather awareness of the order of what is lived or experienced. Although it arises from concrete experience, it is modified by the universe of cultural values ​​of the subject.

Scientific knowledge

Scientific knowledge is that which is acquired through the planned design of an investigation, which implies a systematic and methodical process. Scientific knowledge is verifiable and demonstrable. At the same time, it pretends to be critical, rational, universal and objective. See also: Science.

Theological knowledge

Theological knowledge is based on the acceptance of a set of values ​​and beliefs derived from a spiritual revelation. In this sense, it has a symbolic character, since processes of construction of meanings through symbols operate in it.

See also