Philosophy?? Maria Style

An interesting precursor to my thoughts.

How does knowledge become yours? When do thoughts move from something you learned or something you heard to something that you know? It’s my recent conundrum, and, at the same time, not so recent of a conundrum.

If I read a book or newspaper, I assume those ideas into my base of knowledge. I use information from them as if it is my knowledge; I do not give credit to the authors of the work.

Yet when there is information I have received from someone then I always credit that person when I use the information. Why is that? It might be that I have not verified the information and am taking their word as the truth. They could be an expert in their field and giving me information they have researched. For example, my fiance is a sports journalist and the most knowledgeable sports fans that I know. Yet every time I surprise my peers with a sports tidbit, I always mention that I don’t “actually” know that but my fiance informed me.

These two ways of gaining information are not different–not really, but there is a standard with printed information that there is some truth and validity to the information. In theory, I can find a primary source and see that the information is true. I never do, but I can. When someone tells me something, I often assume they are making it up or speaking from their knowledge base which I never credit as being that wide or professional. The information someone gives me is just as easy or just as difficult to verify as information that I read. But there is not that unstated trust between speaker and listener that exists between author and reader. The relationship has a different dynamic. 

In reality, both ways of acquiring knowledge are limited and less than ideal. Ideally, all knowledge gained would come through first hand experiences and encounters. However, since most people don’t have the time nor inclination to repeat every experiment and verify truth in all knowledge, these secondhand ways of acquiring knowledge become the most commonly used. 

So the question really remains: at what point does external knowledge become my knowledge? At what point do I get to state information from an informed opinion and impart knowledge onto others as my own?

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One thought on “Philosophy?? Maria Style

  1. Ooh, interesting thought.

    Yeah, there really is an interesting difference in the way we move from understanding the things we learn as someone else’s discovery to seeing them as our own intellectual property.

    I read books filled with baseball data collected over dozens of years, and even though I infer certain original ideas from the data, it’s strange to stop and think that I consider myself to know or to have produced that idea, when obviously the most difficult work was the compilation and intelligent presentation of the information in the first place.

    Spoken word is entirely different, too. It’s as though we are somehow both more uncertain of what we learn verbally, and more afraid to claim that knowledge as our own lest the original speaker who passed it on to us be ticked off.

    Mind-bender. Good stuff.

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