Understanding 'The New Knowledge Management' LO30404

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 07/23/03

Replying to LO30397 --

Dear Organlearners,

Mark McElroy <mmcelroy@vermontel.net> wrote:

>This is all very neat, but it fails to (a) address the problem of
>how we know anything, and (b) assumes that all knowledge is
>subjective. This is all a step backwards, not forward. Your
>approach to knowledge is to coveniently side-step the question
>of truth versus falsity. You want us to say that we "know"
>something on faith, and that whatever you decide we express as
>explicit must be true because we say it is. Your approach to
>knowledge therefore leaves us devoid of any distinction between
>information and knowledge, and that is precisely why your
>approach and philosophy to the subject fails on its face. It
>immediately presents us with problems that it cannot solve. It is
>untenable. It dismisses truth versus falsity as an issue, and
>therefore fails its ost fundamental test, for if your defintion of
>knowledge cannot address that most basic question, of what use
>it to us? Where do we turn for that distinction? Or does truth
>not count in business, or in life for that matter?

Greetings dear Mark,

Wow, what a paragraph with so many handles in it to elaborate upon!

I will not again ride the horse that knowledge dwells in a person's mind
while information exists outside it.

But what intrigues me is the relationship between knowledge and truth. For
many years in the study of logic it was believed that truth can be derived
objectively so as to decide that a statement is true or not. But Kurt
Goedel threw a spanner in that works. We can know some true statements,
but we cannot derive them and thus decide that they are really true. It is
as if logic also has a tacit dimension to it like knowledge. How did it
come that we can know such undecidably true statements? Mathematicians are
baffled by it. A mathematician suddenly perceives a theorem, but then it
take ages for that mathematician to create a proof for it!

As for myself, I know that my knowledge often exhibits emergences when
parts of it interact so that some new knowledge emerge as a result of it.
But is this the truth? Sometimes that which has emerged is only a dim
suspicion. Does this already qualify as truth? Then it grows steadily
until it has become a firm conviction. Does it now qualify as truth? I
have learned that truth is as much becoming as being.

As for finding truth in information, that is quite a different thing. Most
important to me is that information is always formulated in some kind of
language, natural or artificial. I need to be well versed in that language
before i can decide on the truth of the information. Often the data in the
information is not enough to decide on its truth so that i have to search
for additional information. Sometimes i cannot find enough information to
make any decision so that i decide not to decide ;-) But when i make a
decision, what do i actually do? I try to fit the information into what i
know. This is very dangerous since what i know may not be the truth. But
for me it is far more dangerous to say information has truth in it so that
my knowledge must conform to it.

The older i become, the more i admire Goethe who claimed that truth is the
interaction between the "world-inside-me" (of which knowledge is a part)
and the "world-outside-me" (of which information is a part). Sadly, too
little is made of this interaction in KM.

At the site
< http://server3001.freeyellow.com/baty/Volume3chap20 >
i have found the following delightful information:

"Knowledge versus Information The distinction between knowledge and
information is, I think, fundamental. Information is the record of facts,
experiences, appearances, etc., whether in books or in the verbal memory
of the individual; knowledge, it seems to me, implies the result of the
voluntary and delightful action of the mind upon the material presented to
it. Great minds, a Darwin or a Plato, are able to deal at first hand with
appearances or experiences; the ordinary mind gets a little of its
knowledge by such direct dealing, but for the most part it is set in
action by the vivifying knowledge of others, which is at the same time a
stimulus and a point of departure. The information acquired in the course
of education is only by chance, and here and there, of practical value.
Knowledge, on the other hand, that is, the product of the vital action of
the mind on the material presented to it, is power; as it implies an
increase of intellectual aptitude in new directions, and an always new
point of departure.

Perhaps the chief function of a teacher is to distinguish information from
knowledge in the acquisitions of his pupils. Because knowledge is power,
the child who has got knowledge will certainly show power in dealing with
it. He will recast, condense, illustrate, or narrate with vividness and
with freedom the arrangement of his words. The child who has got only
information will write and speak in the stereotyped phrases of his
text-book, or will mangle in his notes the words of his teacher."

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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