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Kinds of knowledge - Journal of Omnifarious

Feb. 16th, 2005

03:51 pm - Kinds of knowledge

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There is knowledge, and meta-knowledge. This distinction isn't academic, it's one we live with every single day. It's a constant source of frustration to many, and a reasonable portion of the mental health industry is devoted to helping people dealing with the distinction and barrier between the two.

A martial artist, for example, or a figure skater both have a strong knowledge of classical physics. This knowledge is a part of every move when they are practicing their respective disciplines.

Then, there is Sir Isaac Newton. Newton literally wrote the book on classical physics. But, it's very likely that Newton wasn't very good (in fact would probably have been awful) at martial arts or figure skating.

Knowing and doing aren't the same things. And while one can inform the other, they are fundamentally different kinds of knowledge.

These seem strongly related to the idea of a Universal Turing machine. A Universal Turing machine is a turing machine capable of running other turing machines. It's like a turing machine that has knowledge of what a turing machine is. But, that knowledge doesn't enable it to make perfect predictions about other turing machines.

For example, the 'halting problem', the question of whether or not a given turing machine will ever finish, can't be solved in general. You can't make a turing machine that can analyze a universal turing machine input (i.e. a description of another turing machine) and tell you whether or not that other turing machine will halt. I sort of liken that to Newton, though having a thorough understanding of classical physics, still not being a spectacular martial artist or figure skater.

Anyway, those are some thoughts I had while reading "The Emperor's New Mind".

Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative

Comments:

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From:agnosticfont
Date:February 16th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC)
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A martial artist, for example, or a figure skater both have a strong knowledge of classical physics. This knowledge is a part of every move when they are practicing their respective disciplines.

Really ? Every figure skater could explain F=ma or E = mc2 ? I cant believe that is true.

Maybe they know how to take advantage of classical phsyics thorugh their skating experiences but I dont think thats the same thing.

I know how to take advantage of Windows XP but dont ask me to explain it :p

Having said that, I strongly agree that doing isnt knowing. Thats why a lot of IT analysis and development is poor in my opinion. People know how to do something but not why they are doing it.
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From:omnifarious
Date:February 16th, 2005 07:24 pm (UTC)
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E = mc2 isn't a part of classical (i.e. Newtonian) physics. :-) But, that aside, the figure skater may not be able to express the principle of conservation of angular momentum in words, but (s)he knows it extremely well at an intuitive level. (S)he not only knows how to exploit it, but can improvise new techniques based on h(is/er) intuitive understanding.

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From:rosencrantz319
Date:February 16th, 2005 07:21 pm (UTC)
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From:omnifarious
Date:February 16th, 2005 07:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Have you considered transindental meditation?

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*chuckle*

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