Knowledge: The Secret Formula for Innovation
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Indeed, investing your time, energy, and efforts into obtaining knowledge can be a far more valuable investment than stocks, bonds, and even real estate. With profound knowledge on a subject, one becomes armed with the greatest asset necessary for success. Therefore, a deep understanding directly results in creative ideas and innovative businesses.
But what exactly is the concept of knowledge?
At first glance, it seems simple, because we all appear to be innately aware of what knowledge signifies. We will often look at an expert and say, “she is very knowledgeable in her field.”
However, when asked to delve deeper into what that knowledge entails, the subject quickly grows more complex.
In fact, an entire field of philosophy, called epistemology, remains solely dedicated to the study of knowledge and knowing what distinguishes belief from opinion. Before the emergence of epistemology, understanding this concept plagued even the great philosophers of Plato and Aristotle. Particularly, the latter came to understand knowledge through developing the discipline of logic.
Over the centuries, scholars and philosophers alike attempted to define what it means to truly know something. Through their contributed efforts, we define knowledge as follows:
Definition of Knowledge
A familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something (…) which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning.
In other words, we obtain knowledge through collecting information with our five senses and using prior knowledge of related topics to draw logical conclusions.
Obtaining Knowledge Through Observation
Epistemology, the study of knowledge, may trace its roots to the concept of syllogism. Which can be defined as, “[The] practice of drawing conclusions from two given premises that can be related to one another; and having knowledge of both premises leads to that shared conclusion.
For elaboration, here’s a simple exercise in logically obtaining knowledge through the premises of syllogism.
All animals have four legs. (Major Premise)
All dogs are animals. (Minor Premise)
Therefore, all dogs have four legs. (Conclusion)
Using this simple logical process, humans can quickly make assumptions and draw conclusions about the world as we perceive it. Thus, armed with the prior knowledge that all animals have four legs, and all dogs are animals, we logically reach the conclusion that all dogs naturally have four legs .
As we grow older and more knowledgeable, we are better able to reach more conclusions based on this syllogistic reasoning. In the above example, we know what a dog is based on our experience, education from others, and from perceiving (with our senses) how to categorize something as a dog.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Accordingly, we can categorize an animal as a dog because we recognize four legs, a fur coat, and a wagging tail. But in order to understand this as truth, we needed prior understanding of how fur feels, what paws look like, and what a tail is.
Thus, we must draw upon our experience that led us to knowing what legs look like and how they work. Therefore, we continue down this rabbit hole of drawing new conclusions based on premises that we understood through their own sets of logical reasoning.
Hence, the concept of knowledge represents a complete culmination of individual experiences, starting from the most basic of understandings (premises) which Aristotle defines as basic truths. Through this, we begin to understand the compounding value of acquiring knowledge. The more knowledge we have, the more those basic premises may interact with one another, allowing us to draw more conclusions.
This is the basic idea behind problem solving, which leads us to successfully accomplish projects and start businesses that address a need; identified through knowledge.
Apply Your Knowledge for Improved Satisfaction
Take a moment to think about something you’re knowledgeable in. Whether that comes in the form of your career, or through passions and hobbies such as yoga, gaming, or cooking.
In what areas do you consider yourself a knowledge expert?
How might you use that knowledge to create something innovative?
With increased awareness, this deeper self-knowledge may lead to new understandings about your own personal purpose and passions.
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