Sunday, November 28, 2010

What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

Image originally published in the December 1982 issue of THE FUTURIST.
By Beat Schwendimann

Knowledge and wisdom are ambiguous terms that are difficult to define. I find the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom (DIKW) model a pragmatic working definition.
  • On the first level is data: I define data as unsorted numbers or letters. Data on its own carries no meaning. In order to become information, data must be arranged meaningfully.
  • The second level is information: Information consists of isolated concepts that represent patterns (perceived regularities) found in data. For example a trend or average in statistical data, or words (concepts).
  • The third level is knowledge: For information to take on meaning, it must be interpreted by putting it into context with other concepts. Knowledge is a network of inter-connected concepts. This definition of knowledge is different from the classical philosophical understanding as"justified true belief". I understand connectedness as the central criterion for knowledge (without judging its truthfulness). People can hold concepts of varying truthfulness in their mental network.
  • A fourth (and epistemologically different) level is wisdom (also called meta-knowledge or strategic knowledge): Means knowing when to use knowledge.

Also see previous blog entry for further discussion.

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