What is Knowledge

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It's extremely difficult to define knowledge or establish its conceptual limits. Most of the approaches to what it is, always depend on the philosophical and theoretical perspective that one has, since 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's 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 someone has learned and understood through experience, education, theoretical or experimental reflection.
  • The totality of the intellectual content and knowledge that one has regarding a specific field of reality.
  • The familiarity and awareness that is obtained regarding a specific event, after having experienced it.
  • Everything that can be thought using the questions "how?", "When?", "Where?" and because?".

Knowledge elements

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

  • Subject: All knowledge is acquired by a subject, that is, it's part of the mental or intellectual baggage of an individual.
  • 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, can't obtain knowledge.
  • Cognitive operation: It's 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 its intellectual formulation in knowledge.
  • Thinking: Thought is difficult to define, but in this area we can understand it as the psychic “trace” that the cognitive process leaves on the subject regarding her experience with the object. It's a mental representation of the object, inserted in a network of mental relationships that allow the existence of knowledge as such.

Types of knowledge

There are many ways of classifying knowledge, depending on its specific area of ​​knowledge (for example: medical, chemical, biological, mathematical, artistic knowledge, etc.), or its nature and the way it's acquired. According to the latter, we would have:

  • Theoretical knowledge: Those that come from an interpretation of reality or from the 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: It's about those that we obtain directly, from our experience of the universe and the memories that remain of it. This type of knowledge constitutes the basic framework of "rules" about how the world operates, which in some cases can become non-transferable, such as spatial, abstract and perceptions knowledge.
  • Practical knowledge: These are those that allow to obtain an end or perform a specific action, or that serve to model 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, you can also speak of formal knowledge: those from the course of an institution of education, such as school, college, etc.; and informal knowledge: those acquired on the go, in life, without involving a particular teaching dynamic.

Knowledge management

This concept 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'll be used or put into practice, that is, that it doesn't remain only in the place where it's 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 must be managed based on tactical, operational and strategic precepts within a given company.

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