2.1 Introduction

2.1 Introduction

            In previous chapter we have covered some of the hidden complexities related to the term ‘knowledge’. Even explaining some of the essential feature of this term, we ought to acknowledge that the word “knowledge” is significantly ambiguous. Sometimes it is related to various kinds of abilities like cognitive abilities that result from learning like how to walk on stilts; how to give a rousing speech, how to use the library, etc. Sometimes it is associated with  acquaintance, familiarity, personal experience, and corresponding recognition abilities like knowing a former friend by name or by sight;  knowing fear, love, or disappointment, etc.  Sometimes it is correlated with context and meanings like facts gathered by study, observation, or experience and conclusions inferred from such facts. This type of knowledge is sometimes known as knowledge-who, knowledge-what, knowledge-when, knowledge-that and so on. For example, “Tom knows who wrote the Declaration of Independence”. It means that Tom has the knowledge that Thomas Jefferson was the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence. Even this discussion has not answered the question "What is knowledge?”.

            In fact, “knowledge” is very abstract concept and usually defined adopting close world assumption which presumes that what is not currently known to be true, is false. For example, when we talk about knowledge what we mean is knowledge about some objects which may be either physical or abstract. Some examples of abstract objects include love, hate, memory, the future, and even knowledge itself. Reany (1988) argue that ‘we naively believe that our knowledge of reality is direct, but this is a mistake. Our experience with physical objects is actually indirect. We do not directly mentally experience physical objects; we mentally experience only our concepts of them.’ He further says, ‘I define knowledge as a relation between two or more concepts, where concepts are mental objects. But these concepts do not exist apart from a conceptualizer, an intelligent being. Thus human knowledge is subjective and has no absolute meaning. However, we may postulate the existence of an all-knowing, eternal, perfect God that acts as an absolute standard of knowledge and truth, and though there are many reasons to do this we must admit that any definition of an absolute standard is both subjective and logically arbitrary’ (Reany,1988).

            Reany (1988) gone up to the extent that he show concerns regarding absolute knowledge. He argue that the fundamental problem in believing in absolute knowledge is found in the dichotomy between what is and how we characterize what is, which in philosophical terminology is the difference between metaphysics and epistemology. For example, we grant that matter exists in some kind of Absolute state. How we characterize that state depends on our habits of reasoning, our particular mode of experiencing the physical realm through our senses, and our requirement to found all characterizations on arbitrary definitions. We have no way to defend beyond all doubt the way we reason, i.e., the logic we adhere to. In fact, from mysticism to Zeno's Paradoxes to Quantum Mechanics we find grounds to doubt the infallibility of so-called Western logic. Ultimately, barring the use of intuition and revelation, our only means of characterizing the world is through our Knowledge Formation System (KFS). It seems to do a fair job in helping us deal with the world, but that's no guarantee that there are no other sentient beings with radically different sensory capabilities and KFS that can also deal effectively with the same world. We cannot prove that our way of forming characterizations of the world is absolute, so we cannot prove that the definitions we adopt to characterize the world in accordance with the KFS are absolute.

            In above paragraphs, we have tried to explain the hidden complexities associated with the concept ‘knowledge’. The exploration about the general nature of knowledge is very important for an effective knowledge management initiative. Therefore, without going into the philosophical differences and similarities of different schools of thought, in this chapter we will discuss about different types of knowledge which have been reported in knowledge management literature.  The aspects covered in this chapter will provide a foundation for the later chapters.


Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience of and even communion with a supreme being.

Zeno's paradoxes are a set of philosophical problems generally thought to have been devised by Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 - 430 BC) to support Parmenides's doctrine that "all is one" and that, contrary to the evidence of our senses, the belief in plurality and change is mistaken, and in particular that motion is nothing but an illusion. It is usually assumed, based on Plato's Parmenides 128c-d, that Zeno took on the project of creating these paradoxes because other philosophers had created paradoxes against Parmenides's view. Thus Zeno can be interpreted as saying that to assume there is plurality is even more absurd than assuming there is only "the One". For further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno's_paradoxes