2.2.4 Embrained knowledge

2.2.4 Embrained knowledge

            Embrained knowledge (individual-explicit) is a form of abstract or theoretical knowledge. It is practical, high-level knowledge, where objectives are met through perpetual recognition and revamping . Embrained knowledge is dependent upon conceptual skills and cognitive abilities determined by the ‘personal setup’ of the brain (Collins, 1993, p.7) and on conceptual skills (Blacker, 1995) which enable recognition of underlying patterns (Venzin et. al., 1998).

            As we know some aspects of our abilities/skills are contained in the body and are associated with the physical set up or physical functioning of our brain. For example explaining a theory to others, audience may understand the general principles but the physical linkages for recalling specific information will be different in everyone's brain. For Collins, knowledge is embrained just when ‘cognitive abilities have to do with the physical setup of the brain,’ where the term ‘physical setup’ signals not merely the ‘way neurons are interconnected’, but also factors to do with ‘the brain as a piece of chemistry or a collection of solid shapes’ (Collins 2000, p.182). Embrained knowledge so defined is an example of total implementation sensitivity and thus establishes vital materiality. And the evidence from Dale and Husbands that the spatio-temporal chemical dynamics of Reaction-diffusion RD systems, as plausibly conserved in animal brains, may generate minimally cognitive behaviour surely provides an example of cognitive abilities being to do with the physical setup of the brain, that is, of embrained knowledge.

            Fiol and Lyes (1985) relates it with ‘routine’ behavioral adjustment which they term as ‘high level’ abilities such as complex rules.  Argyris and Schon (1978) in their theory of “double loop” learning feature embrained knowledge and encourage and explicit recognition and reworking of unquestioned objectives. Prahalad and Bettis (1986) view embrained knowledge as schemas, mental maps and ‘dominant logic’  which represent the state of the organization or concerning world. They argue that in order to adapt to a new environment and to learn, the old schemas, mental maps or ‘dominant logic’ must be replaced with the new one through unlearning.

            According to Lemon & Sahota (2004) tacit knowledge may also be embrained, even though it is mainly subconscious. Foil and lyles (1985) distinguish between behavioural and cognitive development as a result of organizational learning. They believe knowledge is born in the brain by processing the external information and is a matter of logic. They argue that knowledge may be gained without any accompanying change in behavior.


Reaction-diffusion (RD) systems are distributed chemical mechanisms involving constituents that are (a) transformed into each other by local chemical reactions and (b) spread out in space by diffusion. There is evidence that RD systems explain how some unicellular organisms (e.g. slime molds) manage to co-ordinate bio-signalling between spatially distributed sensors and actuators (Yamada et al. 2007).