Types of Knowledge and Purposes of Education
The physical scientist, psychologist, humanist, epistemologist, and educator all take knowledge for their domain, but it is sometimes difficult to recognize their maps, classifications, and directions as applying to a common territory. Consider, for example, a few of the classifications of knowledge that have achieved prominence in the history of philosophy. The four stages distinguished by Plato in the figure of the divided line in The Republic has had remarkable endurance. So have Aristotle’s distinctions between the kinds of knowing involved in understanding, making, and choosing. 1 Kant’s distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge, echoing the old division between intuitive knowledge of principle and empirical knowledge of fact, and the antagonism between the scientific search for truth and the humanistic one are other examples. Some classifications are based on the nature of the subject matter being studied; some on the methods of studying it. Some are characterized by their epistemic status, for example, the differences between opinion, belief, and knowledge; between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description (Russell, 1912) or Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowing that and knowing how (Ryle, 1949).