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For the study of London undertaken by prospective taxi drivers, see The Knowledge.
Image:Efez Celsus Library 5 RB.jpg
Personification of knowledge (Greek Επιστημη, Episteme) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey.

Knowledge is what is known. Like the related concepts truth, belief, and wisdom, there is no single definition of knowledge on which scholars agree, but rather numerous theories and continued debate about the nature of knowledge.

Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association, and reasoning. The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject, potentially with the ability to use it for a specific purpose.


[edit] Defining knowledge

Main article: epistemology

The definition of knowledge is a live debate for philosophers. The classical definition, found in Plato<ref>Plato, Theatetus</ref>, has it that in order for there to be knowledge at least three criteria must be fulfilled; that in order to count as knowledge, a statement must be justified, true, and believed. Some claim that these conditions are not sufficient, as Gettier case examples allegedly demonstrate. There are a number of alternatives proposed, including Robert Nozick's arguments for a requirement that knowledge 'tracks the truth' and Simon Blackburn's additional requirement that we do not want to say that those who meet any of these conditions 'through a defect, flaw, or failure' have knowledge. Richard Kirkham suggests that our definition of knowledge requires that the believer's evidence is such that it logically necessitates the truth of the belief.

In contrast to this approach, Wittgenstein observed, following Moore's paradox, that one can say "He believes it, but it isn't so", but not "He knows it, but it isn't so". <ref>Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty, remark 42</ref> He goes on to argue that these do not correspond to distinct mental states, but rather to distinct ways of talking about conviction. What is different here is not the mental state of the speaker, but the activity in which they are engaged. For example, on this account, to know that the kettle is boiling is not to be in a particular state of mind, but to perform a particular task with the statement that the kettle is boiling. Wittgenstein sought to bypass the difficulty of definition by looking to the way "knowledge" is used in natural languages. He saw knowledge as a case of a family resemblance.

[edit] Knowledge management

Main article: knowledge management

Knowledge management seeks to understand the way in which knowledge is used and traded within organisations and treats knowledge as self-referential and recursive. This recursion means that the definition of knowledge is in a state of flux. Knowledge management treats knowledge as information within some context. Knowledge in this context consists of information augmented by intentionality (or direction). This conception aligns with the DIKW model, which places data, information, knowledge and wisdom into an increasingly useful pyramid.

The main objective of knowledge management is to ensure that the right information is delivered to the right person just in time, in order to take the most appropriate decision. In that sense, knowledge management is not interested to manage knowledge per se, but to relate knowledge and its usage. This leads to Organizational Memory Systems.

Rapid Knowledge capture tools are being combined with knowledge management to transfer knowledge easily and effectively from one person to another.

[edit] Situated knowledge

Situated knowledge is knowledge specific to a particular situation. Imagine two very similar breeds of mushroom, which grow on either side of a mountain, one nutritious, one poisonous. Relying on knowledge from one side of an ecological boundary, after crossing to the other, may lead to starving rather than eating perfectly healthy food near at hand, or to poisoning oneself by mistake.

Some methods of generating knowledge, such as trial and error, or learning from experience, tend to create highly situational knowledge. One of the main benefits of the scientific method is that the theories it generates are much less situational than knowledge gained by other methods.

Situational knowledge is often embedded in language, culture, or traditions. Critics of cultural imperialism argue that the rise of a global monoculture causes a loss of local knowledge.

[edit] Partial knowledge

A discipline of epistemology is focused on partial knowledge. It states that in most of realistic cases, it is not possible to have an exhaustive understanding of an information domain, but that we have to live with the fact that our knowledge is always not complete, that is, partial. Most of real problems have to be solved by taking advantage of a partial understanding of the problem context and problem data. That is very different from the typical simple math problems that we solve at school, where all data are given and we have a perfect understanding of formulas necessary to solve them.

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