We explain what knowledge is, the types that exist and how it is obtained. Also, what are its characteristics and why is it important.

What is knowledge?

Knowledge is the process by which reality is reflected and reproduced in human thought . It is the product of different types of experiences, reasoning and learning. It is a complex concept, which has been dealt with by many traditions of thought throughout history , and which has always been, to say the least, elusive.

In fact, it is very difficult to concretely define knowledge or establish its limits, since it always depends on the philosophical and theoretical perspective from which it starts . Thus, there is knowledge related to each branch of human knowledge, and even to each area of their experience. The branch of philosophy that studies knowledge is the theory of knowledge.

It is not easy to come up with a concept of knowledge. It is traditionally known that knowledge belongs only to the human being . It depends on the reason that distinguishes us from animals , which is a complex way of acquiring knowledge of the environment.

Although all living beings can obtain information from the environment, only the human being can memorize, transmit, apply to other specific areas of life and submit to logical or deductive operations.

Generally, by knowledge it refers to:

  • Facts or information that a person learns and understands through experience, education , theoretical or experimental reflection.
  • The set of intellectual content that refers to a specific field of the universe .
  • Familiarity or awareness regarding an event in reality, which a person acquires after having experienced it.
  • Everything that can be thought from the questions how? When? Where? and because?

Difference between knowing and knowing

Although they are verbs of very similar use, they do not apply to the same idea interchangeably, but differ with respect to a subtlety that is explained below:

  • Know. It is to obtain a product of knowledge, that is, it incorporates an experience or evidence to a previous set of accepted knowledge, using memory or experience. Which is to say that we know something when we experience it and find it again, or when we refer to it as part of the memories we have of something lived.
  • To know. Add to the above a justification that incorporates the experience or evidence into an ordered system of knowledge, based on reality and that exceeds the specific conditions of the moment. In simpler terms, we know something when we not only know it, but we can explain it, account for it and know to some extent the reasons why it occurs, or we can link it to other aspects that apparently would not have to do, for example.

Types of knowledge

Types of knowledge

There are numerous classifications of knowledge. For example, it could be classified by area of knowledge, thus having medical, chemical, biological , mathematical , artistic knowledge , etc. But they can also be classified into:

  • Theorists. Those that imply an interpretation of reality, derived from the communication of third parties, that is, from direct experiences that we have not had but have referred us. For example, scientific, philosophical knowledge or beliefs.
  • Empirical . Those that we obtain directly from the experience of the universe, and that constitute the basic framework of "rules" for understanding how the world in which we live operates. For example, spatial, abstract and perceptions-related knowledge.
  • Practical Those that aim to obtain an end or perform an action, and that serve to model behavior. For example, technical, ethical or political knowledge .

One can also speak of formal knowledge , those that do not have specific material content, but rather constitute a fabric of relationships; and material knowledge, those that refer to the concrete or to the subject of which they give information.

History of knowledge

The history of knowledge is the history of humanity itself . In other words, our history is marked by our main talent, which is the ability to learn, that is, to obtain and store knowledge, put it into practice and in relation to other areas of life .

This history could begin with the first human species and their increasing capacity to use tools , such as stones and animal bones, or fire itself, which was reflected in their cranial capacity, slightly greater as time passed and the evolution did its job.

Thus, lithic tools and spears were giving way to the forge and the handling of metals , and these to the first machines and physical-chemical knowledge. As the human being acquired more and better knowledge, his life changed and with it the world around him changed.

An important event in this story was the birth of science , a method to discern the valid knowledge of the invalid and verify that the conclusions obtained are universal. This allowed us to organize, multiply and transmit knowledge in a better way, thus enhancing our capabilities and allowing us to build today's world.

How is knowledge acquired?

How is knowledge acquired?

Five access routes to knowledge are recognized:

  • Intuition . When faced with an unprecedented situation, knowledge can be obtained through instinct or empirical and immediate understanding, without mediating a rational process, nor can it be explained or verbalized.
  • Experience. Once a situation has been lived, it is already known and the experience resulting from what happened, applicable then to future situations.
  • Tradition. People pass on to future generations part of the knowledge they have obtained in their lives, so that the latter do not have to go through the same thing and can benefit from something without having to experience it.
  • Authority. Much knowledge is accepted based on its source, and incorporated because faith in the rigor or the truth of the person who transmits it is sufficient guarantee.
  • Scientific experimentation. The interpretation of experiments and evidence resulting from the application of the scientific method , allow to discern the legitimate knowledge from the false, and thus acquire knowledge from those obtained by third parties, simply by reviewing their notes or publications.

Importance of knowledge

Knowledge is the immediate fruit of experience . Only by obtaining knowledge and treasuring it, transmitting it, organizing it, can we shape what we have lived and learn from it, not repeat mistakes and even anticipate similar situations. Knowledge is the fundamental tool to live the life that we human beings enjoy.

Scientific knowledge

Scientific knowledge

The set of knowledge of science is often known as scientific knowledge: it is distinguished from the rest of the types of knowledge in that it is verifiable, rational, objective and universal.

The steps of the scientific method guarantee their veracity , since they force the generators of new knowledge or new knowledge to check their theories and demonstrate their conclusions. This is done through the reproduction of their experiments by a third party or by the validation of their mental procedures by a specialist jury.

Follow on: Scientific knowledge

Philosophical knowledge

The philosophical knowledge contains a series of conclusions that man is able to come through philosophical reasoning, ie, by reflective methods, critical and deductive proposing you the philosophy .

Philosophical knowledge is different from scientific or theological , both in its procedure and in its purposes, since it does not apply the experimental scientific method like the first , nor does it focus on demonstrating the existence or nature of God , like the second.



Also called Theory of knowledge, epistemology is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature, origin and scope of knowledge , without dwelling on the particularities of each type of knowledge or the branches of knowledge that exist. It is a central branch of philosophy and in which all philosophers in history have contributed.


For many, gnoseology and epistemology are the same. However, many others emphasize that the former is a theory of knowledge applicable to science , that is, a theory of knowledge based on a form / matter distinction.

This means that gnoseology studies the methods of validation and legitimation of knowledge applicable to the sciences , while epistemology opts for a general view of knowledge, without judging its validity or invalidity.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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