Plato, a philosopher, defined knowledge as ‘justified true belief”. According to the American Psychological Association, knowledge is the range of one’s understanding or information. It refers to knowing facts or being aware of things and people. It is a theoretical and practical understanding of a particular field. This knowledge is acquired from memory, experiences, education, actual practice and more.
Knowledge is an essential part of our life. It is a concept that has supported humans to lead and further the civilization. It is responsible for various successes. A lot of you might even have read this quote, ‘Knowledge is power.’
There are various types of knowledge. There have been debates and controversies about types of knowledge. But, knowledge is a philosophical concept, and is relatively subjective, so every individual can have an opinion on it. Different types of knowledge are described below, in no order.
Characteristics Of Knowledge
- Knowledge is abstract in nature. It is a shared understanding between people, or mutual agreement of ideas.
- Knowledge is passed down from one civilization to another. In that sense, it is cumulative. It continues to grow and develop through different generations.
- It is also social in nature. It is developed through social experiences. It is built and developed through interactions between people. An individual can gain knowledge through his own experience as well as experiences of others.
- It is known as a means to reach the truth.
The philosophical study of knowledge is known as epistemology. Epistemology is an ancient Greek philosophy, associated with knowledge. It consists of 2 types of knowledge, namely, priori and posteriori.
Priori means from before, this knowledge refers to facts that we learn without actually experiencing it. These are inherent and based on reasoning.
For example, mathematical equations. These equations are not always learnt through real experiences, but from mental reasoning. This knowledge is non-empirical, as it is gained without any real experience.
Posteriori means from what comes later or after, referring to knowledge that is gained after experience. It is a result of our experiences. It is similar to empirical knowledge, in the sense that knowledge is acquired post experiencing through senses or observation.
For example, knowing that bitter gourd tastes bitter is posteriori knowledge. It is something you might have eaten in real life, and that experience fills your knowledge base.
The 12 Important Types Of Knowledge
- Procedural Knowledge
- Descriptive Knowledge
- Domain Knowledge
- Explicit Knowledge
- Implicit Knowledge
- Tacit Knowledge
- Empirical Knowledge
- Local Or Indigenous Knowledge
- Encoded Knowledge
- Metacognitive Knowledge
- Previous Knowledge
Types Of Knowledge – Explained With Examples
1. Procedural Knowledge
It is about how to perform certain tasks or skills. It is about an individual’s ability to do something. It is also called imperative, practical knowledge or know-how.
For example, how to swim or how to drive a car. These things require specific steps or a way of doing them. An individual does not have to verbally explain these tasks, but do them practically in order to prove that knowledge. For instance, cycling or walking.
2. Descriptive Knowledge
It refers to knowledge about facts that can be communicated through words or sentences. It is also called propositional knowledge or declarative knowledge. It is acquired through reading and memorizing, no particular practical experience is mandatory for gaining this knowledge. It can come under explicit knowledge as well, because one is aware and attentive when the knowledge is being processed.
For example, historical facts are a form of descriptive knowledge. We weren’t physically present for World War, but we know some details about it through different sources.
3. Domain Knowledge
It refers to expertise or knowledge about a particular field or topic, opposed to general knowledge. It is specific and narrow. People having domain knowledge on a specific field can be perceived as experts or specialists in that area.
For example, a person doing her majors in psychology might have more knowledge about the field of psychology. Other general knowledge might also be present, but specific domain knowledge could be about psychology. The domains can be history or physics or math.
4. Explicit Knowledge
It refers to things that can be documented or shown through writing or numbers. It refers to information that is structured. It is also known as expressive knowledge, as one can express it verbally or in a written form. It is something that can be verified as true or false.
For example, the fundamental laws of physics. This type of knowledge is easily communicated and can be transferred from one person to another. For example, reports, diagrams, excel sheets.
This type of knowledge is used to form an opinion, make an informed decision or share with others. Even dictating a food recipe is also considered as an example of a documented, explicit knowledge. Even scientific papers, encyclopedias, how-to guides or steps to do things are forms of explicit knowledge.
5. Implicit Knowledge
It refers to skills that are learnt by applying explicit knowledge to a situation. This type of knowledge is acquired through no explicit awareness that learning is occurring. Since it is not explicit, it is difficult to describe or teach through documentation. It happens internally or implicitly. It is expressed through behaviors, routines, responses, instincts, and habits.
For example, knowing how to play a musical instrument, or ride a bicycle. When one learns how to play a piano, that knowledge becomes embedded into their mind unconsciously. Another example is recognizing someone by their face. This knowledge cannot be explicitly described or explained, it is just something we know, implicitly.
6. Tacit Knowledge
It refers to unsaid rules or things that are learnt but cannot be taught very explicitly. It is intuitive, experience-based expertise. This knowledge is understood based on the context or situation. It is knowledge that is learnt through our social surroundings, and is informal and personal.
Experience and practice help in acquiring this knowledge. It can be influenced by our personal values or beliefs. It affects how we perceive and interpret the world around us.
Social norms and emotional intelligence are examples of tacit knowledge. Knowing how to express support to someone, verbally or nonverbally comes under tacit knowledge. To actively listen, empathy and communicate support non-verbally comes under tacit knowledge.
7. Empirical Knowledge
This knowledge is acquired through one’s senses (through seeing, smelling, touching, hearing and tasting). It is gained through direct perception of our surroundings.
Science, observation and research are examples of empirical knowledge. We can sense and prove these things. For instance, water, fire and snow are things that we can feel through our senses. The characteristics of these things (fire is hot) are saved in our empirical knowledge base.
8. Local Or Indigenous Knowledge
It refers to knowledge about practices and rituals developed and maintained by local communities. These communities could have a history with the natural environment.
This knowledge could be medicinal herbs, folk tales and traditions, old rituals. This knowledge is essential for maintaining cultural diversity and supporting sustainable development.
9. Encoded Knowledge
It refers to facts communicated through signs or symbols. It is also known as stored knowledge. It is more of a storage of knowledge, rather than being a type.
Examples include books, training manuals.
It refers to facts or information that we are aware of, but do not know the depth of. This information can be gained through reading or looking up on the internet.
For example, Janet knows that heavy metal is a music genre, but does not know any songs or any other information about it. She can look it up and find information to learn more, in this case.
11. Metacognitive Knowledge
It refers to knowing about your knowledge. This contains a learner’s knowledge about their own abilities and capacities. It has knowledge about their strengths, weaknesses as well as knowledge about particular tasks that they do.
For example, Jennifer knows that she can do mental math’s really well.
12. Previous Knowledge
It refers to knowledge that we have acquired previously or through our past experiences. This knowledge helps us during new experiences or to solve new problems.
For example, we learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide during primary school days. This knowledge then helps us solve complex algebra problems in high school.
Knowledge is power, literally. An individual should know about every type of knowledge so that he or she can apply it to different situations, whenever needed. Each type of knowledge mentioned above is essential for education, applying for college or job, conducting research or for daily life.
It is imperative to keep reading books or articles, to consume different forms of media, to listen to others and observe them, to interact with people from different cultures and to be active and aware of surroundings to acquire these different forms of knowledge.