18.559 knowledge, wisdom, data, information

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 08:00:39 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 559.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Charles Ess <cmess_at_drury.edu> (43)
         Subject: Re: 18.553 knowledge, wisdom, data, information -

   [2] From: "Franklin, Rosemary (franklra)" (4)
         Subject: RE: 18.553 knowledge, wisdom, data, information

   [3] From: robert delius royar <r.royar_at_morehead-st.edu> (19)
         Subject: Re: 18.553 knowledge, wisdom, data, information

         Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 07:08:22 +0000
         From: Charles Ess <cmess_at_drury.edu>
         Subject: Re: 18.553 knowledge, wisdom, data, information - addendum


first of all, my thanks to everyone else who commented on this topic
(including the correction of my flagging memory - Zappa, eh, not Moon Unit?
oh well...)

Speaking of faulty memory - the remarks further reminded me that T.S.
Elliot used a similar distinction in his "Choruses from the Rock" (sometime
in the 1930s, I think):

The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,

The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.

O perpetual revolution of configured stars,

O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,

O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!

The endless cycle of idea and action,

Endless invention, endless experiment,

Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;

Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;

Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.

All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,

All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,

But nearness to death no nearer to God.

Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries

Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

-- T.S. Eliot, "Choruses from the Rock"

FWIW: I used this poem in conjunction with Dreyfus' taxonomy of knowledge,
as developed in his _On the Internet_ - one in turn that draws on
Kierkegaard, including the distinctions between the ethical and religious
spheres. Roughly, Dreyfus argues that knowledge, and certainly wisdom (in
the sense of _phronesis_) are part of the ethical and religious spheres (in
contrast with the aesthetic sphere) - and involve a move from the skills of
handling information to the skills of handling knowledge.

T.S. Elliot as a forerunner of humanities computing? On that happy

Charles Ess

Distinguished Research Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Drury University
900 N. Benton Ave. Voice: 417-873-7230
Springfield, MO 65802 USA FAX: 417-873-7435

Home page: http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html
Co-chair, CATaC: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

         Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 07:09:08 +0000
         From: "Franklin, Rosemary (franklra)" <FRANKLRA_at_UCMAIL.UC.EDU>
         Subject: RE: 18.553 knowledge, wisdom, data, information

I believe Menken said: "knowledge without wisdom is like an ass bearing
books". Perhaps that could be expanded to say: data without information is
like an ass bearing books without knowledge?

Cheers, Rosemary Franklin

         Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 07:09:43 +0000
         From: robert delius royar <r.royar_at_morehead-st.edu>
         Subject: Re: 18.553 knowledge, wisdom, data, information

Wed, 2 Feb 2005 (06:24 -0000 UTC) Naomi Standen wrote

>Data consists of very basic statements about perceptions of what is "out
>there", ranging from isolated notes that on this day this person sold this
>cow for this many beans, up to series of population statistics. Processing
>has happened in each case (of course), but the range varies considerably
>from unselfconscious writing down (or speaking or other form of recording)
>of something as someone perceived it to have happened, to more or less
>sophisticated (re)arrangement of material culled from one or more sources.

I believe by this point we are already facing information. Data is
ineffable. As soon as we describe a datum, we have have poesis. I am not
certain that language can be data except as it be analyzed in some
elemental form. Even then, I admit I do not know what it is I mean by
that. I cannot conceive of letters and certainly not words that do not
spontaneously convert into information as soon as I become aware of them,
even in languages I do not read.

Dr. Robert Delius Royar <r.royar_at_morehead-st.edu>
Associate Professor of English, Morehead State University
                      Making meaning one message at a time.
Received on Thu Feb 03 2005 - 03:49:39 EST

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