Aristotle’s three types of knowledge
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher (384 BC – 322 BC) and is one of the most important founding figures in western philosophy. He systemized a lot things and created comprehensive system of the western philosophy within the field of moral, logic, science and politics. He classified knowledge in three different types Episteme (scientific), Techne (Skill and crafts) and Phronesis (Wisdom).
- Episteme (Scientific knowledge) Episteme means “to know” in Greek. This is the kind of knowledge you get from for example books it tells you about the world and how it works, this is the theory of something. This is explicit knowledge that is easy to store and transmit to others. Good example of explicit knowledge (Episteme) is Wikipedia or encyclopedias.
- Techne (Skill and craft knowledge) The greek work Techne translates to craftsmanship, craft, or art. People are not often aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others. This kind of knowledge is not easy to share; you have to learn it yourself by practice. A common example is the ability to ride a bicycle if you have an easy written instruction set on how to ride a bicycle please send me a email so can I forward it to my four year old son. This type of knowledge is of very common in software development and comes with experience.
- Phronesis (Practical wisdom) Phronesis means practical wisdom in Greek, Aristotle distinguishes between sophia and phronesis. Sophia (translated to wisdom) is the ability to think well about the nature of the world, discovering systems why the world is the way it is. Sophia is the ability to find universal truths and theories. Phroneses is the ability to realize how a specific goals or value is reached. Phroneses includes aspects of a situation, critical analytical reflection and for scrutinizing knowledge systems, practices and impacts of goals which easily are take for granted. When having the needed “Episteme” and “Techne” of a specific domain you can develop the capability to find the “right answer” in a particular situation, which is what phronesis is about.
One of the interesting observation is that there is some knowledge that are easy to learn throw studies some that you have to practice yourself and some kind of knowledge are developed through reflection of the scientific knowledge and your craft knowledge of a specific domain which leads to a practical wisdom within that domain.
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