Cognition, Knowledge and Paradigms

In science, two fundamental objects are assumed to exist in the real world, matter and radiation or in terms of two types of particles, atoms and photons. A scientist believes that all of the possible observables in the universe can be interpreted in terms of atoms and photons. It is understood that sometimes these particles can be interpreted as more or less classical and sometimes more or less as waves, depending on the kind of observation that is made. How do we “know” that this is “true”? The answers if that scientists agree that “true” simply means a certain level of agreement between what we know and therefore what we expect from an observation and what is observed experimentally.

Cognition may be defined as that which becomes to be known through the creation of knowledge as the result of awareness, learning, reflection, perception, reasoning,intuition, judgment, and wisdom. Cognitive skills are built up thorough a process of creating intellectual arrangement, which can be considered in analogy to the process of creating molecular structures: starting with components (composition creation), connecting the components (constitutional creation), placing the constitution in a define space (configuration). Higher levels of structure include the dynamics of interconversion of the global structure and interactions between a given structure and other structures.

The scientific process of creating these structures can be considered as the systematic and self consistent creation of intellectual and experimental structure through the hierarchical process that starts with (1) observations which are converted into data (observations organized for analysis or used to reason, make decisions, etc); (2) the data is then placed into one or more structures that converts it into information (data organized for processing, storing , transmitting or analyzing); (3) the information is then transformed a paradigm which allows it to be transformed into knowledge (the psychological result of applying information through reflection, learning and reasoning); knowledge is then transformed through the application of the paradigm into judgment (application of knowledge to justify a logical basis for an action or belief); (4) judgment is then transformed through systematic application of the paradigm into wisdom(the intellectual capacity to consistently discern what is important, true, corrrect and fundamental).

Observations ---> Data ---> Information ---> Knowledge ---> Judgment ---> Wisdom

Thus, knowledge differs from data or information in that for an individual new knowledge must be created from preexisting knowledge using some form of representation or structures and a systematic process of logical inference. There is intellectual value added at each step of the above process. Anyone can make and report observations. However representing observations as data is an acquired skill that is taught by the paradigm, which teaches that certain representations are more useful and superior to others. The conversion of data into information may be viewed as the attachment of meaning to the data, and again the paradigm teaches the student what this meaning is. Having taken observations from the level of sense perceptions and measurements to that of information the paradigm then teaches how to process the information to create new knowledge for the individual who then begins the process of learning and moving up the ladder from novice to expert within the discipline ruled by the paradigm. The process of information and adjusting beliefs to accommodate the new information within the logic and rules of the paradigm represents the creation of new knowledge for the student. If there is no change in the way the individual processes information there is no new knowledge created.

Content, Context and Cognition

Knowledge may be considered in terms of content (factual where, who, what, and when kind of knowledge) and context (factual information embedded in a connected space which provides the knowledge with meaning and provides the knower with a logical inferential basis for making wise judgment before acting or accurate predictions based on factual information). The novice can readily pick up content knowledge, which is the material of text books, but in the absence of context and experience the novice has difficulty in making judgments in the application of the content knowledge. The student finds a context for content knowledge by developing researching skills in which to embed the content knowledge and through experience becomes an expert in making judgments. Cognitive skills are learning skills by which students becomes able to create their own knowledge and apply it judiciously.

Content (what, where and when knowledge) = teaching skills
Context (how to connect knowledge) = researching skills
Cognition (how to create knowledge) = learning skills