Knowledge and its Representation
Language, Culture, and Knowledge in Context - A Functional-Cognitive Approach - Brian Nolan
Brian Nolan [+]
Technological University Dublin (retired)
In Chapter 7, Knowledge and its representation, we delve into elements of the theory of knowledge, and look at some of the characteristic questions including: what is knowledge? and what types of knowledge are there? We can distinguish, for example, between knowledge of propositions, or propositional knowledge, and know-how, or ability knowledge. The goal of a theory of knowledge is to clarify what knowledge involves, how it is applied, and to explain its characteristic features. Any discussion of knowledge must recognise some basic linguistic facts about the way that the verb know and its cognates function in discourse. In particular, it is important to recognise that to know has both a propositional and a procedural sense. This contrast is found in the matter of knowing that something is the case (THAT-knowledge) versus the practical knowledge of knowing how to perform some action to realise some end result (HOW-TO-knowledge). There are in fact more fine-grained insights into the many different kinds of knowledge. Declarative knowledge is to do with concepts, facts and entities. This type of knowledge describes what is known and includes simple statements that are asserted to be either true or false. This also includes a matrix of attributes and their values so that an entity or concept may be fully described. Procedural knowledge is to do with processes, rules, strategies, agendas and procedures. This type of knowledge describes how something operates or how a problem is solved, and provides directions on how to do something. Heuristic knowledge describes our experiential knowledge that guides the reasoning process. It is empirical and represents the knowledge compiled through the experience of solving past problems. Meta-knowledge is high-level knowledge about the other types of knowledge and how to use them, and describes knowledge about knowledge. We use this type of knowledge to guide our selection of other types of knowledge for resolving a particular issue. This type of knowledge is used to enhance the efficiency of our reasoning by directing the reasoning processes into the most promising area. Structural knowledge is to do with our sets of rules, concept relationships and concept to entities relationships. It describes actual knowledge structures within our overall mental models. Our mental model of concepts, sub-concepts, and entities with all their attributes, values, and relationships is typical of this type of knowledge.