Chapter 3 Information and knowledge

3.1 Using Information.

To be able to use information, we must comprehend it. The comprehension process is an assimilation of the information into the complex structure of our knowledge. The information must become part of our knowledge before we can use it.

When we want to know a foreign city we can start by studying the city map. When studying the map, at first we memorize the main layout of the city. As the study advances, we assimilate the information provided by the map into our mind. When, later on, we travel in the city, we use the assimilated information as knowledge to find our way.

3.2 Knowledge.

Once information is assimilated all right, it can be used as knowledge. All information can be assimilated to become knowledge.

However, not all our knowledge is obtained like this. For example we cannot have learned the basic ability to learn. This illustrates that at least some initial knowledge (mental abilities) are required to start with. Our mind contains thus initial knowledge and acquired knowledge.

3.3 Information expresses itself.

Applying knowledge results in an action or in the creation of new information. There is always a part of the used knowledge expressed in the result.

When using language, we express some knowledge belonging to the language. The structure of the sentences and the choice of the words we use is carrying some information of the language.

When we built a house, we express part of our knowledge concerning building houses in the house itself.

Once we have a basic understanding of a foreign language, we can extend our knowledge of the language by hearing or reading. This is possible because some knowledge of the language is expressed in the applied language we read.

The fact that information is expressed by its applications is a major contribution to the spreading of information.

3.4 Knowledge is Information.

Assimilated information becomes knowledge. Using knowledge causes the expression of the used knowledge together with the result. Even the inborn knowledge is expressed in our actions, otherwise it would not be possible to investigate this knowledge by observing the behavior of children.

This illustrates that a mutual translation is possible between information and knowledge. The difference between knowledge and information lies in the circumstances rather than in the nature of it.

As a first approach, we can suggest that everything which can be communicated is information. Because we express and thus communicate continuously knowledge, we do not have to extend this notion of information to include knowledge.

However, information and knowledge are not synonyms. Information is the general term and knowledge is information under specific conditions. When information is in the right conditions to express itself, we call it knowledge. The ways in which information beings do express themselves is part of the study of the behavior of information.

3.5 Broadening our subject.

By including knowledge in the notion of information, the subject of our study becomes broader then suggested in the previous chapters. The way in which knowledge develops, propagates, interacts with other knowledge is part of our study.

Because knowledge is information, all what we have already stated in the previous chapters is of course applicable to knowledge.

3.6 Evolution of information.

In chapter 1, we illustrated that information adapts itself to new circumstances and evolves. Because knowledge is also information, it evolves in the same way. Common sense, intelligence and language are examples of the results of a long evolution of knowledge by natural selection.

Common Sense:

Knowledge which is useful in many common circumstances will be used frequently. This causes a wide spreading of such knowledge. When there is a choice between several ways of thinking, the way which is best adapted to the general conditions of life on earth and to our body will spread widest. This leads to a set of knowledge which is so widely spread that it has become common to all men. This common knowledge is called common sense.

Common sense is a complex set of information which is common to all men, it belongs to mankind rather then to an individual.

In part III, we will concentrate on the deeply rooted mechanisms underlying the adaptation of information to new circumstances and the consequent evolution of information.

Before that, in part II, we investigate the basic mechanisms of the activity of information.

More in next chapter on Abstraction

This is Chapter 3; Information and knowledge of Behavior of Information

Author: Luc Claeys. All comments welcome, mail to lcl at this site:

Last updated on Nov 12, 1997