4.0314 Follow-ups: Information and Knowledge; Holmes (2/46)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 23 Jul 90 18:50:36 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0314. Monday, 23 Jul 1990.

(1) Date: Sat, 21 Jul 90 14:57 CDT (28 lines)
Subject: Information vs. Knowledge

(2) Date: Fri, 20 Jul 90 12:50 EST (18 lines)
From: Jim Wilderotter <Wilder@Guvax>
Subject: Holmes

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 90 14:57 CDT
Subject: Information vs. Knowledge

Frank Dane's question about the difference between information and
knowledge reminds me of an exchange I had with a tutor for student
athletes. She had called me about a logic student of mine who would be
missing a number of classes because of an athletic road trip, and wanted
to know another way (aside from attending class) the student could "get
the information," using that phrase a number of times. The
presupposition was that the class fed information to the student, which
information the student could also get elsewhere, e.g. by reading a book

I finally managed to convince her that logic was more than information,
but instead was rather like tennis: you need information, but you need to
develop a skill, too, one that takes practice. Very good students
(which the one in question was not) could get the "knowledge" or
"know-how," the skill, from the book together with some practice on
their own, but most students needed the instructor, as does a tennis

Information, I think, has a purely passive, receptive connotation which
knowledge does not (necessarily) have. You may inform students that it
was Descartes who said, "Cogito, ergo sum," but I don't think they can be
said to "know" it until they know something about Descartes and the
background of his system. Understanding requires still more activity.
See the debates on "Erklaeren vs. Verstehen."
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------28----
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 90 12:50 EST
From: Jim Wilderotter -- Georgetown University Academic
Subject: Holmes

In keeping with the topic of Sherlock Holmes, here is a quote
that most Sherlock Holmes fans should remember:

"It had always been a maxim of Holmes's that whenever the possible
had been eliminated, the remainder - however improbable - was
the truth."

Dr. Watson (_The_Seven_Percent_Solution_.
New York: Ballantine Books.
[1974] page 18).

Jim Wilderotter