ⓘ Blog | Knowledge - Knowledge, History of knowledge, Outline of knowledge, A Causal Theory of Knowing, acquisition, Activity theory ..

Knowledge

Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. Knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit as with practical skill or expertise or explicit as with the theoretical understanding of a subject; it can be more or less formal or systematic. In philosophy, the study of knowledge is called epistemology; the philosopher Plato famously defined knowledge as "justified true belief", though this definition is now thought by some analytic philosophers to be problematic because of the Gettier problems, while others defend the platonic definition. However, several definitions of knowledge and theories to explain it exist. Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, communication, and reasoning; while knowledge is also said to be related to the capacity of acknowledgement in human beings.

History of knowledge

The history of knowledge is the field covering the accumulated and known human knowledge created or discovered during the history of the world and its historic forms, focus, accumulation, bearers, impacts, mediations, distribution, applications, societal contexts, conditions and methods of production. It is related to, separate from the history of science, the history of scholarship and the history of philosophy. The scope of the history of knowledge encompass all the discovered and created fields of human derived knowledge such as logic, philosophy, mathematics, science, sociology, psychology, data mining etc.

Outline of knowledge

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to knowledge: Knowledge – familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts, information, descriptions, and/or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit as with practical skill or expertise or explicit as with the theoretical understanding of a subject; and it can be more or less formal or systematic.

A Causal Theory of Knowing

A Causal Theory of Knowing is a philosophical essay written by Alvin Goldman in 1967, published in The Journal of Philosophy. It is based on existing theories of knowledge in the realm of epistemology, the study of philosophy through the scope of knowledge. The essay attempts to define knowledge by connecting facts, beliefs and knowledge through underlying and connective series called causal chains. It provides a causal theory of knowledge. A causal chain is repeatedly described as a sequence of events for which one event in a chain causes the next. According to Goldman, these chains can only exist with the presence of an accepted fact, a belief in the fact, and a cause for the subject to believe the fact. The essay also explores the ideas of perception and memory through the use of the causal chains and the concept of knowledge.

Knowledge acquisition

Knowledge acquisition is the process used to define the rules and ontologies required for a knowledge-based system. The phrase was first used in conjunction with expert systems to describe the initial tasks associated with developing an expert system, namely finding and interviewing domain experts and capturing their knowledge via rules, objects, and frame-based ontologies. Expert systems were one of the first successful applications of artificial intelligence technology to real world business problems. Researchers at Stanford and other AI laboratories worked with doctors and other highly skilled experts to develop systems that could automate complex tasks such as medical diagnosis. Until this point computers had mostly been used to automate highly data intensive tasks but not for complex reasoning. Technologies such as inference engines allowed developers for the first time to tackle more complex problems. As expert systems scaled up from demonstration prototypes to industrial strength applications it was soon realized that the acquisition of domain expert knowledge was one of if not the most critical task in the knowledge engineering process. This knowledge acquisition process became an intense area of research on its own. One of the earlier works on the topic used Batesonian theories of learning to guide the process. One approach to knowledge acquisition investigated was to use natural language parsing and generation to facilitate knowledge acquisition. Natural language parsing could be performed on manuals and other expert documents and an initial first pass at the rules and objects could be developed automatically. Text generation was also extremely useful in generating explanations for system behavior. This greatly facilitated the development and maintenance of expert systems. A more recent approach to knowledge acquisition is a re-use based approach. Knowledge can be developed in ontologies that conform to standards such as the Web Ontology Language OWL. In this way knowledge can be standardized and shared across a broad community of knowledge workers. One example domain where this approach has been successful is bioinformatics.

Activity theory

Activity theory is an umbrella term for a line of eclectic social sciences theories and research with its roots in the Soviet psychological activity theory pioneered by Lev Vygotsky, Alexei Leontev and Sergei Rubinstein. These scholars sought to understand human activities as systemic and socially situated phenomena and to go beyond paradigms of reflexology and classical conditioning, psychoanalysis and behaviorism. It became one of the major psychological approaches in the former USSR, being widely used in both theoretical and applied psychology, and in education, professional training, ergonomics, social psychology and work psychology. Activity theory is more of a descriptive meta-theory or framework than a predictive theory. It considers an entire work/activity system beyond just one actor or user. It accounts for environment, history of the person, culture, role of the artifact, motivations, and complexity of real-life activity. One of the strengths of AT is that it bridges the gap between the individual subject and the social reality - it studies both through the mediating activity. The unit of analysis in AT is the concept of object-oriented, collective and culturally mediated human activity, or activity system. This system includes the object or objective, subject, mediating artifacts signs and tools, rules, community and division of labor. The motive for the activity in AT is created through the tensions and contradictions within the elements of the system. According to ethnographer Bonnie Nardi, a leading theorist in AT, activity theory "focuses on practice, which obviates the need to distinguish applied from pure science - understanding everyday practice in the real world is the very objective of scientific practice. The object of activity theory is to understand the unity of consciousness and activity." Sometimes called "Cultural-Historical Activity Theory", this approach is particularly useful for studying a group that exists "largely in virtual form, its communications mediated largely through electronic and printed texts." AT is particularly useful as a lens in qualitative research methodologies. AT provides a method of understanding and analyzing a phenomenon, finding patterns and making inferences across interactions, describing phenomena and presenting phenomena through a built-in language and rhetoric. A particular activity is a goal-directed or purposeful interaction of a subject with an object through the use of tools. These tools are exteriorized forms of mental processes manifested in constructs, whether physical or psychological. AT recognizes the internalization and externalization of cognitive processes involved in the use of tools, as well as the transformation or development that results from the interaction.