Published:  12:33 AM, 29 September 2018

Knowledge on knowledge

Knowledge on knowledge

Protiva Rani Karmaker

Sir Francis Bacon first attributed to the phrase 'Knowledge is Power' long ago.  As human being we search for knowledge for empowering our understandings, capability of thinking, doing, and researching, talking, loving and living style. There is no end of knowledge. From birth to death we experience the need of knowing knowledge though it is not easy to define it in specific words.

Most dictionary definitions of knowledge also do not do justice to the concept of it. Actually the word 'knowledge' has been derived from the verb 'to know'. Loosely defined, knowledge consists of all that a person knows and believes to be true, helpful, rational, pragmatic etc. 

With the incessant changes as well as novel implementations of societal activities and life style, necessities of knowledge in versatile areas have emerged. Likewise, the knowledge of information and communication technology including social media and networking sites like face book, twitter, instagram, WhatsApp, e-mail, fax etc. has attained importance.

Personal knowledge differs from one person to another.  It is subjective.  Person acquires knowledge sometimes on specific subject, specific work and specific profession. He or she tries to pass this knowledge to the succeeding generations or followers. 

Some of us receive knowledge on education, manner, lifestyle, culture, religion from family as well as from school. Some learn them from experience. Learning from experience lasts long. That is why, we should not lament over bad experience rather be thankful to it as it provides us the chance to be more pure and perfect.

We should remember that the concept of knowledge expresses our standards, ideals, and tastes about the rightful exercise of our hidden skills or genius.  Knowledge is, therefore, concerned with how we come to know; what are our approved standards of competence - in performance, in inquiry and in criticism.

On the other hand, according to the rationalistic tradition, knowledge is derived through deductive reasoning based on self-evident basic truths. Knowledge, according to the rationalists, does not strictly depend upon experience; it depends instead on reasoning. Rationalists consider mathematics to be the ideal science.

Mathematicians do not conduct experiments and surveys. Yet through reasoning, they arrive at truth that does not depend on experience for its confirmation.

There are many types of knowledge based on traditions as follows:

Empirical Tradition: According to the empirical tradition, all natural phenomena can be known only through experience and not through deductive reasoning or intuition. Empiricists assume that our mind has the power to compare, combine, analyze and generalize upon whatever is provided to it by experience.  Mind is power as knowledge stays there.

Pragmatic Tradition: The pragmatic tradition emphasizes the experimental character of the process of acquiring knowledge. The pragmatic tradition stresses that merely carrying out logical operations on basic truths is not enough; one needs to go beyond the generalizations about observed phenomena. Pragmatists are in favor of experimentation based on controlled observation of environment and events.

The process of generating and testing knowledge is, according to Dewey, the process of "trying and undergoing" - trying an idea in practice and learning from observation of the consequences of the trial.

Declarative knowledge: According to Biggs (1999), knowledge is of many kinds. Chief among these is declarative or propositional knowledge. This knowledge refers to knowing about things or 'knowing - what'.

Functioning knowledge: Functioning knowledge is concerned with 'how to do things' and it involves performance based on understanding.

Procedural knowledge: Procedural knowledge is essentially skill -based. Procedural knowledge goes hand in hand with appropriate competencies in a particular area.

Conditional knowledge: Conditional knowledge is a combination of both procedural and higher level declarative knowledge. It informs us of what one should do under given circumstances and why. At end it can be expressed that nearly we all have the power to know.

The person who is selling ice-cream may have some primary knowledge on storage system, selling manner etc. What he needs more! He needs more in-depth knowledge on the subject to be successful what will in turn provide him the power to move ahead  So, knowledge is power.


The writer is Director & Associate Professor (English) of Institute of Modern Languages of Jagannath University.

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