17 October 2009

A HancAquam Experiment

Leaving aside your dictionary for a moment. . .how do you define "information," "knowledge," "wisdom," and "truth"?

I mean, just in your day to day thinking and talking, how do you use these words?  Do you distinguish, say, information and knowledge?  Wisdom and truth? 

Is all information knowledge for you?  Are all truths wisdom? 


  1. My knee-jerk thoughts:

    No, all information is not knowledge. Information is the raw material of knowledge, but it has to be processed and at least begun to be understood before it could be called knowledge. There is an element of 'personal ownership' in knowing something versus merely being aware of its existence [ie, as information].

    The same dynamic is true for truth and wisdom. Truth needs to be first sought, then recognized, and then passed through the discernment of conscience to be 'owned' and integrated into a personality as wisdom.

    Such are my 6:30AM pre-coffee thoughts. God bless, Fr. Philip!

    PS. Are you familiar with Michael Polanyi's PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE? I haven't yet but this thought experiment may have me seeking it out ...

  2. I work in an environment where copious amounts of input must be scanned and processed into useful units for study. We have a "Maslow's hierarchy" that our algorithms work on, each more abstracted, but dependent on the layer below it.

    We start with "data"
    then compile upward to:
    knowledge, and then

    These have fairly specific meanings when doing this roll-up. I guess you could finally place "truth" at the top of the pyramid... but the more abstract the layer, the fuzzier the logic. When you get to the top, you get the closest you are going to get to A.I.
    It's my belief that the processing and discrimination-based reduction of the billions of data points on the internet looking to identify and track the next terrorist movement are where the political will and financial backing are going to come from to create an artificial mind. To see patterns in the static, we have to automate what the neural net in our head does everyday driving us down the highway...

  3. Anonymous2:23 PM

    Information: data, which must be analyzed and understood in relation to other data for its implications regarding what is or is not the case

    Knowledge: grasping what is the case or what is not the case, sometimes also including an understanding of why it is or is not the case

    Wisdom: understanding what is or is not the case, and why (as far as humanly possible), regarding things of the highest order (e.g. eternal truths) that subsume and integrate lower-level knowledge and understanding; grace will assist with this in some cases, although purely natural wisdom is attainable

    Truth: an accurate statement of what either is or is not the case

  4. Matt G12:54 PM

    In day to day use, these terms form a hierarchy. At the bottom is information, which is the accumulation of things I did not previously know. Knowledge is the information that is True, which I define as accurately describing the world around me. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge in service of God and others.

  5. Wisdom is the pursuit of truth. There are only two kinds of people: the fools who think they are wise, and the wise who think they are fools.