A Primer on Knowledge
Harry Hillman Chartrand ©
IPSI-2005, France/Spain Conferences, January 2005.
The article presents a model of ‘knowledge about knowledge’ constructed using trans-disciplinary induction. Knowledge is first treated as a Monad based on the undifferentiated biological human need to know, the immeasurability and incommensurability of knowledge and its general expression through inherently limited and biased human languages including mathematics. The Monad breaks out into a Dyad of two distinct yet inter-related and inter-penetrating realms of knowing by Science (reduction) and Design (construction). Knowledge takes form as a primary Triad of personal & tacit, codified and tooled knowledge. These forms, in turn, find expression as economic inputs (personal & tacit labour, codified & tooled capital and toolable natural resources) and as final outputs of a knowledge-based economy (the Person, Code and Work). Each form takes its content from a set of knowledge Qubits. A qubit (or four-fold bit of information) is used in physics, genomics and analytic psychology. From the event horizon of five disciplines of thought and sixteen of their sub-disciplines plus etymology six knowledge qubits were identified (etymological, psychological, epistemological, pedagogical, legal and economic). The model as a whole (MDTQ) is quintessentially subject to the changing policy posture of government as custodian, facilitator, patron, architect and/or engineer of the national knowledge-base including the national innovation system.
Methodology is the organized means by which knowledge about something is acquired. That ‘something’ may be the subatomic foundation of a chemical reaction, intellectual property rights among Fourth World peoples, altered states of consciousness, the history of the automobile, echoes of the Big Bang, or the meaning of truth, love, beauty, destiny or justice. The organized means to know about something varies according to the object under investigation as do the rules of evidence and the accepted instruments for its collection in any given discipline of thought. When that ‘something’ is knowledge itself, however, one faces a meta-methodological dilemma. Understanding a system or thing requires a perspective or vantage point higher than or conceptually above the object under investigation. How can one attain a position that transcends knowledge? How can one know all its domains and forms or all its faculties of acquisition? Such questions border on metaphysics, itself, of course, a discipline of thought.
To acquire ‘knowledge about knowledge’ I developed trans-disciplinary induction (TDI). It is, in a way, the logical outcome of my research career to date. TDI may, or may not, prove useful to other scholars facing a meta-methodological dilemma. I hope so but only they will be able to tell. In this paper I define TDI and briefly compare it to ‘traditional’ interdisciplinary research cum Piaget (1973). I then report, in progressively more abbreviated form, results of TDI’s application to the question of my dissertation: the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy.
I begin with the prefix ‘trans’ which derives from the Latin meaning “across, to or on the farther side of, beyond, over”. In biochemistry and biology, it has the additional meaning of ‘transfer’, e.g., of genes across species, i.e., trans-genetic (OED, trans-, prefix, 10. Biochem. and Biol.). In addition, as an adjective, trans- conveys the sense of ‘beyond, surpassing, transcending’, as in trans-human. I use the word in the sense of transferring ‘knowledge about knowledge’ across disciplines in the hope of attaining a transcendent understanding or overview of ‘knowledge about knowledge’.
Trans-, however, must be contrasted with ‘inter-’ as in Jean Piaget’s 1973 Main Trends in Inter-Disciplinary Research. ‘Inter-’ too is a prefix deriving from the Latin but meaning “between, among, amid, in between, in the midst” (OED, inter-, prefix, etymology). In this sense, inter-disciplinary means standing between disciplines and sharing, not transcending, their observations and findings. Piaget also restricts consideration to inter-disciplinary studies among the natural & engineering or experimental sciences with a concluding extension to the ‘human sciences’. He thereby excludes the Arts and the humanities from consideration. Furthermore, his analysis is rooted in the ‘positivist’ tradition of Logical Empiricism in which empiricism is defined in linguistic terms as the common rules of grammar, vocabulary and syntax
used by different disciplines to ‘prove’ their findings. This excludes, of course, non-linguistic, non-codifiable forms of knowledge such as the aesthetic experience, which disappears under analysis. It also ignores what David Baird calls ‘thing knowledge’ (Baird 2004) and rather what I call ‘tooled knowledge’, i.e., knowing through the existential extension of our physical selves using sensors, tools and toys.
The word ‘discipline’ derives from the Old French meaning “instruction of disciples”. Discipline is concerned with the practice or exercise of a disciple in contrast to ‘doctrine’ which is “the property of the doctor or teacher” who is concerned with abstract theory or dogma (OED, discipline, etymology). Put another way, discipline concerns what is practiced and doctrine concerns what is taught and thought, i.e., a body or system of principles or tenets. How it is taught is pedagogy, i.e., “the art or science of teaching” (OED, pedagogy, 1).
For my immediate purposes, discipline will be defined as “a department of learning or knowledge; a science or art in its educational aspect” (OED, discipline, n, 2). Such departments tend to be institutional, not just abstract. Since Plato’s Academy they have been reified as organizational and physical structures.
Now, as then, entry and exit is controlled, initiates supervised and doctrine regulated. Once admitted, initiates rise up the hierarchy first teaching what once they were taught and then administering the organization and/or adding to the body or interpretation of doctrine. This corresponds to: “the system or method by which order is maintained in a church, and control exercised over the conduct of its members; the procedure whereby this is carried out; the exercise of the power of censure, admonition, excommunication, or other penal measures” (OED, discipline, n, 6a). Put another way, the organization of disciplinary knowledge is, by definition, institutional, with barriers to entry erected to screen admission and then supervise training, qualification and practice.
Disciplinary practice in the Church took the form of doctrinaire
monastic orders – Benedictine, Cistercian, Gregorian, Franciscans, Jesuit, etc. (Cantor 1969). This changed with the arrival of the
self-governing university, independent of Church and State, during the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries of the Common Era (C.E.). At its beginnings, the university was an
incorporated association of teachers, as in
The medieval university was typically organized into three primary domains of philosophy (literally ‘the love of knowledge’): natural, moral and metaphysical. To these, the practices (applied knowledge) or self-regulating professions of law and medicine were added as distinct, quasi-independent branches of learning. Excepting the practices, the university taught the ‘Liberal Arts’, i.e., knowledge suitable for the edification of gentlemen and nobles. This included music, the only Art originally admitted to the university and which acquired its own home in academe, the Conservatory.
Specialized university departments and faculties were paralleled, in the ‘real’ world’, by a spectrum of guilds practicing the ‘mysteries’ (Houghton 1941) of the Mechanical Arts. To work with the mind and the word was noble; to work with the hands ignoble. Arguably, this bifurcation of ‘knowledge-for-knowledge’s-sake’ and ‘knowledge-for-practice’ is evidenced, for example, in contemporary distinctions between science and technology and between management and labour.
With respect to modern disciplines, natural philosophy broke out into
the natural & engineering sciences while moral philosophy split into the humanities
& social sciences. Nonetheless, the
organizational structure and rituals of the medieval university continue to
this day. Anachronisms include: the Bachelor
& Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees; the robes; and,
positions such as chancellor, dean, provost, etc. The word ‘anachronism’
highlights a salient characteristic of knowledge, i.e., it exists in “overlapping temporal gestalten” (Emery & Trist 1972,
24). Picture a graduating PhD on stage
receiving a diploma in 21st century genomics wearing robes designed in the 12th
or 13th centuries and a mortar board, square or trencher cap from 17th century
What differentiates modern disciplines from medieval ones, however, is
emphasis on additions to rather than interpretation of existing
knowledge. This change became embodied
in the ‘research university’ which appeared first at the
e.g., the French university syllabus in Sociology is different from the British and the British from the American.
This process of the splitting off (the Latin meaning of ‘science’) is an example of the division and specialization of knowledge in action. It has the benefit of ever more detailed examination of a phenomenon but at the cost of increasing incommensurability, i.e., the inability to communicate knowledge to the uninitiated. It also has the associated costs of resistance to heterodox approaches and external audit, e.g., inter-disciplinary studies. In a manner of speaking, what is gained in depth and detail is lost in breadth of vision.
In logic, induction refers to reasoning from the specific to the general in contrast to deduction which refers to reasoning from the general to the specific. The word ‘induction’ derives from the French meaning, among other things, “the action of introducing to, or initiating in, the knowledge of something” (OED, induction, 2). It is in this sense that trans-disciplinary induction involves introducing, in my case, economics, to arguments and evidence developed in other disciplines of thought.
If induction carries the sense of increase, then deduction carries the sense of decrease. In fact, the word ‘deduction’ derives from the French meaning “the action of deducting” (OED, deduction, 1a). Put another way, deduction involves simplification of the complex; induction involves the complication of the simple, in this case, of the word ‘knowledge’. Deduction serves as the basis of reductionism in the natural and engineering sciences as well as in the social sciences practicing ‘calculatory rationalism’.
Trans-disciplinary induction can be expressed in two complimentary ways. First, as in semiotics and analytic psychology, knowledge about a given phenomenon - in this case about knowledge – can be seen symbolically. In effect, trans-disciplinary induction involves a circumambulation around the question looking at it from as many different perspectives as possible and interpreting specific disciplinary findings as symbolic of a wider more numinous meaning (Neumann 1954, 7).
Second, a discipline can be likened to a black hole of complexity into
which relevant evidence and argument flow over an event horizon. Using this metaphor, trans-disciplinary
induction tries to capture, cream off, harvest or otherwise pick off ‘knowledge
about knowledge’ from the event horizon before it is sucked into the black hole
where it becomes enmeshed in often heated and complex internalist debate
specific to a discipline, e.g., the
economics of Keynes vs. Keynesian
Economics. To a degree, this skimming is only now becoming
possible because of web-based research libraries such as JSTOR at the
For my purposes, and excluding etymology (the origin and meaning of words which is used throughout), the event horizons of five disciplines including economics, philosophy, sociology and two
‘interdisciplinary’ fields of study - science and technology - were surveyed (Exhibit 1: Trans-disciplinary Event Horizon). From sixteen of their sub-disciplines evidence and argument was harvested.
Like any methodology, TDI has weaknesses as well as strengths. Its strengths lay in the breadth of vision it contributes. Its weaknesses, however, are many. First, it relies on language which can articulate some but not all forms of knowledge, e.g., so-called ‘tacit’ knowledge that by definition is not, or cannot be, codified (M. Polanyi 1962a). In this way TDI is like all linguistic-based methodologies and has similar difficulties in treating phenomenon such as the aesthetic experience, “works of technological intelligence” (Aldrich 1969, 381), ‘instrumental realism’ (Idhe 1991) and ‘instrumental epistemology’ (Baird 2004).
Second, TDI is akin to sophistry: one builds the strongest case from supporting evidence and argument, ignoring, deflecting but seldom refuting contrary evidence. TDI is therefore inherently subjective and dependent on the experience, skill and ethics of its practionner.
Third, TDI, like medieval scholasticism, relies on authority. While evidence is gathered from experts, their contributions are generally subject to dispute and debate internal to their own respective disciplines. Furthermore, one must gather their evidence using one’s own ‘external’ reading (Loasby 1967, 172-173).
Fourth, each TDI researcher will be strong in some fields while weak in others. True polymaths are probably extinct. Experimenter expectation or bias can also be expected. But as Kuhn suggests, even the choice of which normal science puzzle to solve is influenced by a natural scientist’s culture, experience and language (Kuhn 1996, 128). To this degree, even the natural & engineering sciences are value-laden.
For all its weaknesses, TDI is, to paraphrase Kenneth Boulding: “better than nothing” (Boulding 1966, 3). Furthermore, it does offer a breadth of vision compensating for the narrowness of disciplinary focus. In this regard, TDI fosters formation – ex poste – of a design, metaphor, pattern or theme that may symbolically sum up the phenomenon.
I will now report results of TDI applied to the question of the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy. ‘Knowledge about knowledge’ is presented as: a Platonic Monad or
indivisible unity; a Dyad consisting of Science & Design; three distinct yet related Triads expressing knowledge as form, input and output; and, six Qubits or four-fold measures of knowledge drawn from etymology, psychology, epistemology, pedagogy, law and economics. Finally, I will use this paradigm (MDTQ) to express the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy (Exhibit 2: Competitiveness Paradigm). I advise the reader that for purposes of this paper more detail is offered concerning knowledge as a Monad and Dyad with progressively less detail presented for Triads and Qubits. I also de-emphasize the economics. This is the inverse of my dissertation.
‘Knowledge about knowledge’ can be viewed as a Platonic Monad or an indivisible unit of being like the atom of the ancient Greeks which could not be split. Of course, knowledge comes in many differing forms; it is acquired in various ways; and, it has many different sources. Nonetheless, considered as a Monad, it exhibits four irreducible characteristics: it is a biological imperative or need like food and shelter; it is immeasurable; it is incommensurable; and, it is generally communicated through a human language, all of which, including mathematics (Boulding 1955), is subject to inherent and inevitable limitation.
Knowledge literally begins with the dawn of human consciousness. It arrived in a phylogenetic instant of self-awareness with the appearance of our species homo sapiens (literally ‘the man that knows’) some 300,000 years ago and of our sub-species homo sapiens sapiens (the man that knows that he knows) about 20 to 30,000 years ago. Subsequently each of us experiences an individual ontogenetic instant, repeated generation after generation, when we emerge out of infancy into self-reflective consciousness. ‘To know’ is the defining characteristic of our species, a characteristic rooted in our subjective, individual, biological nature then shaped and directed according to the institutional, moral and social norms of a specific human society. And, as will be seen, the need to know invokes many different faculties, not just reason and logic and functions in many domains.
The biological imperative ‘to know’ is apparent in at least four ways:
first, ultimately only the individual human being can ‘know’. Books and computers do not know that they know, nor does any other species, at least on this planet. Companies, corporations and governments or, in Common Law, ‘legal persons’, cannot know. Only the solitary flesh and blood ‘natural person’ can know;
second, being organic, knowledge mutates, flows back and forth, selectively feeding on itself, growing and developing. Thus when
two different streams of knowledge meet in a single individual they tend to interact mutating into new knowledge or connexions;
third, osmotic pressure forces
high concentrations of knowledge from one domain across semi-permeable social
and institutional membranes into other domains.
Two examples demonstrate. To
monitor scientific experiments German physicist Ferdinand Braun developed the
first cathode-ray oscilloscope in 1897.
Industry quickly adopted it to monitor production activities. In turn, industry converted it into the
ubiquitous television set that occupies our living room and connects us to the
wider world. A second example is from
theology. After the fall of
fourth, given the biological imperative one faces a wickedly complex set of questions. How do we know in terms of neuron bundles and pathways? Who, in a psychiatric sense, knows when ego consciousness does not? What is the difference between knowing in the subjective sense of aesthetic, moral and religious values and in the objective sense of the angular spin of electrons or the genetic alphabet of life? Where in the modularized brain do we know, e.g., in a specific part of the brain stem or transcendent to its component parts?
The questions continue. What is the relationship between knowing and memory? Where does knowledge go when not in thought? Does what we know correspond to an external, eternal truth or reality? Or is what we know relative and subjective; is it contextual to time, place, culture and person? How does the knowledge of the individual coalesce into human culture?
The immeasurability of knowledge can be demonstrated in the distinction between information and knowledge management (Bouthillier & Shearer 2002) or between ‘bits’ and ‘wits’ (Boulding 1966). Information theory involves storage and transmission of human knowledge in electronic rather than hardcopy or analogue format. These remain the domain of library science and the Dewey Decimal System. Storage involves audio-video discs, tapes, databases, hard drives, e-books, etc. Transmission and reception requires hardware such as computers, radios, television sets and the Internet. ‘Analogue’ content is digitized for storage and transmission then reconverted into human-readable analogue format, e.g., sounds, pictures and words. The unit of digitization is the binary on/off ‘bit’: 0, 1.
The ‘bit’, however,
abstracts from the content of stored or transmitted information. The same number of bits could emerge from a
telephone conversation between two teen-age girls in
Boulding calls ‘the wit’ (Boulding 1966, 2). The bit also makes no allowance for ignorance, i.e., the absence of knowledge. Without a wit, we are restricted to qualitative or descriptive analysis. Accordingly, in what follows no attempt is made to quantitatively ‘test’. The argument stands or falls on logic and believability. However, to paraphrase Kenneth Boulding, “this is better than nothing” (Boulding 1966, 3).
Immeasurability, however, has not stopped economists, among others. The ‘utile’ – Jeremy Bentham’s unit measure of pleasure and pain – is the foundation stone of modern economic analysis. We cannot, however, measure the pleasure and pain of an individual, nor can we add it up across individuals using felicitous calculus. The measurement problem, e.g., the greatest good for the greatest number, is finessed through reification by proxy. That is, let us assume the utile can be reified, i.e., made concrete and calculable, specifically as money. In this philosophy, one works (suffering disutility) to earn income to buy goods and services to consume them, i.e., extract utility. The money price one pays on the market theoretically reflects the utility that can be appropriated by the consumer. Some day the ‘wit’ too may be reified but at the moment, there is no obvious proxy on the analytic horizon.
Beyond immeasurability, there is the incommensurability of knowledge. Incommensurable is an adjective meaning “having no … common measure except unity” (OED incommensurable, a, 1b). Thus while we have knowledge about the arts, sciences and society there is no common measure other than the word ‘knowledge’ itself. The incommensurability of knowledge has been identified – explicitly and implicitly - by scholars in a wide range of disciplines including: Daniel Bell (sociology); Naom Chomsky (linguistics); Carl Jung (psychology); Thomas Kuhn (history, philosophy, sociology of science); Walter Lippman (journalism); Magorah Maruyama (psychology); Michael Polanyi (history, philosophy, sociology of science); and, Adam Smith (economics).
Incommensurability is emotionally most evident in the Arts where the Art-for-Art’s-Sake
Movement, a child of the Industrial Revolution (
Noam Chomsky introduced to linguistics the analogy of language as a genetic but abstract organ. Like the physical organs of the body, the language organ develops through the life stages of the individual. Its capacity can be increased through exercise like the muscles of an athlete but genetic endowment and disposition can be
taken only so far. Chomsky uses post-Schonbergian music as a limiting case: “Modern music is accessible to professionals and may be to people with a special bent but it's not accessible to the ordinary person who doesn't have a particular quirk of mind that enables him to grasp modern music let alone make him want to deal with it” (Chomsky 1983, 172). This inaccessibility reflects the incommensurability of knowledge.
Carl Gustav Jung, in analytic psychology, explicitly uses the word ‘incommensurability’ to define the rupture between reason and faith. While both concern the same empirical world, their incommensurability represents “a symptom of the split consciousness which is so characteristic of the mental disorder of our day” and of modern society as a whole (Jung  1970, 285).
In his seminal work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn observed that specialization and puzzle-solving within the paradigm of normal science generates knowledge that is ‘incommensurable’ (Kuhn, 1996, 103, 112, 148, 150) even to neighbouring specialties and, by extension to other knowledge domains, disciplines and society as a whole. Semi-permeable barriers or paradigms separate specialties fostering specialization has generated dramatic growth in our knowledge and control of the physical world. The very success of the natural sciences, it has been argued, rests on the axiom: “good paradigms make good neighbours” (Fuller 2000, 7). This specialization by paradigm led Price to coin the phrase ‘invisible colleges’ to describe the forty or fifty people in the entire world who can understand what is being said or written in any given specialty of the natural and engineering sciences (Price 1963).
If the invisible college symbolizes the incommensurability of specialized knowledge, then public opinion represents “the insertion between man and his environment of a pseudo-environment” (Lippman 1922, 15). Knowledge of this pseudo-environment is incommensurable with immediate personal experience. In a complex society, one’s immediate surroundings are part of a much larger environment about which one can have only indirect knowledge or experience. Knowledge of this wider world is derived not through the senses but through what Walter Lippman called Public Opinion in his study of propaganda and the mass media during the First World War (Lippman 1922). In his introduction entitled “The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads’, Lippman uses the poignant example of a few English, French and German nationals living on an isolated island in 1914 where “for six strange weeks they had acted as if they were friends, when in fact they were enemies” (Lippman 1922, 3).
Psychiatrist Magorah Maruyama whose work includes design of human space settlements coined the term ‘paradigmatology’ capturing the incommensurability of knowledge between different professional practices confronting the same objective phenomenon (Maruyama 1974). Consider a social worker consulting a client family made up of an alcoholic father, a promiscuous mother and delinquent children. This is an objective reality that can be shared using a language that permits communication between the professional and the client. The social
worker returns to an office where this ‘objective reality’ is discussed using another language with colleagues. In turn, the case worker reports to an administrative supervisor (in yet another language) who, in turn, reports to a ‘political master’ using yet another language. It is the same objective reality yet different paradigms come into play. And these paradigms exhibit varying degrees of incommensurability.
Michael Polanyi writes explicitly of incommensurability between what subsequently become known as codified and tacit knowledge in technical performance (1962a, 174). Elsewhere he implies that: (i) knowledge obtained through belief defined by articles of faith and that derived through science are incommensurate; (M.Polanyi 1952, 217) and, (ii) scientific and technological knowledge are incommensurate reflecting “the profound distinction between science and technology [which] is but an instance of the difference between the study of nature on the one hand and the study of human activities and the products of human activities, on the other (M.Polanyi 1960-61, 406).
Incommensurability is also implicit in Adam Smith’s argument that public education is necessary to mitigate the damaging, or what Marx would later call, the ‘alienating’ effects of the division and specialization of labour on workers’ minds. Of the worker, Smith wrote: “his dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expense of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues” (Smith 1776). This is the shadow-side of the contemporary division and specialization of knowledge, a wraith that Adam Smith foresaw.
Trans-disciplinary induction can arguably accommodate the biological imperative to know as well as the immeasurability and incommensurability of knowledge. It cannot, however, escape the meta-methodological dilemma of language. Excepting tacit and tooled knowledge, knowledge finds expression through a human language, each of which, including mathematics (Boulding 1955), is subject to inherent conceptual and other limitations. This is certainly the case with English, the language of this article. To know knowledge in English, one begins with the word - its origin and meaning, i.e., its etymology. A word, of course, is part of a language that in turn is the foundation of the traditional ‘nation’ or ‘people’, e.g., the Chinese, English, French, German or Japanese language, nation and/or people. In addition to words or vocabularies, languages differ in their grammar including their syntax, i.e., the ordering of words, and, when reduced to writing, they differ in alphabet (phonetic) and/or script (ideographic), e.g., Cyrillic, Kanji, Mandarin, Roman, etc., and, arguably, mathematics.
Spoken and written language is a defining feature of our species. It is the primary but not exclusive means by which human knowledge is expressed and exchanged between individuals and across generations. Sometimes, however, as with the Logical Positivists, language is treated as synonymous with knowledge which leads to other forms being ignored. This has been called “semantic ascent” (Baird 2004, 8). Nonetheless, “if language-in-use is this all-embracing sort of activity,
stylizing most of our other activities as human beings, then man is best defined, not simply as a rational animal but as animal symbolicum - the language-using animal” (Aldrich 1969, 389).
To cite an example: Kawasaki in his analysis of science education notes that in Japanese there are no proper nouns in the Platonic sense of ‘idealized forms’ (Kawasaki 2002). Hence abstract concepts such as ‘the computer’ or ‘acceleration’ have meaning in Japanese only as specific experiential cases, not as abstract idealized forms. He suggests this may explain why the Japanese have excelled in technological innovation but lagged in the pure sciences. In contrast, the presence of abstract idealized nouns in English may explain why there appears, in my survey of sixteen sub-disciplines, no etymology of the word ‘knowledge’. In effect, it is treated as a universal, as a monad, not as a particular. But the word ‘knowledge’ is, as will be demonstrated, particular to the English language.
From the OED, I can report four findings. First, there are four primary meanings for ‘to know’ by: (i) the senses; (ii) the mind; (iii) doing; and, (iv) experience. All four are reconciled in the individual human being and organically interact therein, e.g., some people read best (know by the mind) when they can physically handle a text (know by the senses) rather than simply see it on a computer screen.
Second, as a verb ‘to know’ has absorbed many meanings of the archaic verb ‘to wit’. Thereby, ‘to know by the senses’ has become conflated with ‘to know by the mind’, i.e., to wit. As a noun, however, ‘wit’ survives defining the seat of consciousness of a natural person. This distinction - knowing through the senses vs. the mind – arguably plays an important role in continuing distinctions between the Liberal and the Mechanical Arts, between Science and Technology and between Management and Labour.
In addition to absorbing ‘to wit’, ‘to know’ has also absorbed the meaning of ‘can’ as in ‘know how’ or ‘can do’. In fact, ‘to know’ and ‘can’ share the root in Old English – cnaw. Both also retain its root meaning of to know by acquaintance, i.e., by experience. Thus in English one verb carries at least four distinct meanings – to know by the senses, the mind, the doing and experience. In German, by contrast, there are separate verbs for each meaning.
Third, if closely related languages such as French, German and Scandinavian use different verbs for different senses of ‘to know’, then one can reasonably conclude they possess many nouns of subtle meaning not available in English. These meanings have become lumped together in English into a single word ‘knowledge’ that has become numinous with purpose but confusing due to its multiple meanings.
If one extends this English etymological economy to more distant languages using scripts other than the Roman alphabet, then the distinct and subtle differentiations of ‘knowledge’, e.g., in Cantonese, Hindi, Mandarin, Russian, Thai, etc., may simply not be capable of translation. It becomes ‘local’ knowledge specific to a nation and a people. Given the rate at which human languages are becoming extinct,
however, many subtle meanings of ‘knowledge’ are lost every year, perhaps forever. (Sampat 2001)
Fourth, there is the relationship between ‘knowledge’, ‘ignorance’, ‘belief’ and ‘opinion’. Ignorance is quite simply “the want of knowledge” (OED, ignorance, 1a). And if ‘knowledge’ derives from reason then ‘belief’ derives from some other faculty yet is held with emotional certainty (OED know, v., 10a). Similarly, while opinion may derive from reason or other faculties it is held as a probability, not a certainty (OED opinion, n., 1a).
All four meanings co-exist in each individual human being. Each, however, generates distinct and sometimes conflicting wants, needs or desires to know. Collectively, the balance or blend of these ways of knowing constitutes an English-language knowledge qubit, the WIT. It is a qubitic or four-fold measure of ways of knowing in the English language, i.e., by the Senses, Mind, Doing and Experience. I will more fully define the qubit below.
Given the importance of language in theories of knowledge, e.g., Logical Positivism, the WIT is, by definition, a limited English language construct. In other languages there are probably senses of ‘to know’ expressed in English only with great difficulty, if at all. The Logical Positivists attempted to overcome this problem by restricting themselves to the language of mathematics. Mathematics, however, is a subset of language, not the other way around.
Having scanned, collected, sorted, compiled and considered argument and evidence of ‘knowledge about knowledge’ from the event horizons of sixteen sub-disciplines, a common theme or pattern was induced: Science by Design. Since the beginning of Western civilization, reason, or the Greek logos (from which the word ‘logic’ emerged), has been accepted as the preferred path to knowledge (Dorter 1990, 37). It distances us from our passions; it frees us from the distracting world of sensation and emotion. In the hands of the Romans logos became ‘reason’ derived from the Latin ‘ratio’ as in calculate (OED, reason, n 1). And from the Romans we also derive ‘Science’ from the Latin scire “to know” which, in turn, derives from the Latin scindere “to split” (MWO).
Science today is accepted as the epitome of reason deriving knowledge by splitting or reducing a question into smaller and smaller parts or elements and, at the extreme, instrumentally controlling them to generate specific phenomenon (Baird 2004). This pattern of behaviour is ‘objective’ in that it is ideally conducted “without being influenced by personal feelings or opinions” (OED, objectivity, n). This form of objectivity attains its apotheosis in the scientific instrument generating knowledge about the physical world without the intermediation of a human subject (Baird 2004; Idhe 1991; Mitcham 1994).
The reductionism of Science extends beyond methodology to epistemology, i.e., the theory of knowledge. Knowledge itself has been split into domains, disciplines, faculties and forms. Since adoption of the ‘experimental method’ in the 17th century, reductive experimental instrumental science has yielded enormous material and intellectual benefits to humankind. It strips away secondary phenomena distinguishing cause from effect revealing in the natural sciences the underlying ‘laws of nature’ (Taylor 1929, 1930; Zilsel 1942), or what alternatively might be called the design or pattern of nature.
Ignoring for the moment the question of conscious and unconscious ‘knowing’ explored by analytic psychology (Jung  1970), “the tradition that there is a non-rational kind of knowing that rivals or even surpasses rational knowledge is as old as philosophy itself” (Dorter 1990, 37). These two realms – the rational and the non-rational – have been at odds from the beginning of Western thought. And while the rational has become embodied in our contemporary concept of Science, the non-rational has remained a wraith taking many forms, assuming many names and evading systemic identification. To Plato it was Art; to the Church Fathers it was Revelation; to the Scholastics it was analogy; to Adam Smith, it was moral sentiments; to Thomas Kuhn, it was aesthetics (1996, 155) or gestalt switching (1996, 111-14) or, in describing the root of scientific revolutions, intuition characterized by “scales falling from the eyes”, “lightning flash” and “illumination” (1996, 123).
Whether it is called aesthetics, art, custom, design, function, gestalt, institution, intuition, paradigm, pattern construction and recognition, revelation, symbolism or technological knowledge, there lurks behind the bright light of Science an amorphous non-rational way of knowing. Accordingly, the portmanteau term ‘Design’ is chosen because the notion is abstract and no unequivocal, clear-cut definition can be offered. In all human activity - be it art, science, politics or religion – both realms of knowing are at play. Differences are in balance, concentration, priority and focus.
The dark realm mints a coin with two sides: pattern construction and recognition. Both involve diverse pieces of knowledge fitted together into a coherent whole. When this occurs a work of aesthetic or technological intelligence ‘works’, i.e., a gestalt awareness occurs or a physical device functions. One connexion between works of aesthetic and technological intelligence is the Pythagorean cognate relationship or pattern between number and matter reflected in music and the geometry of perspective. Another is the ancient Greek word techne meaning both the 'useful arts' as in technology and the ‘fine arts’.
But how can this duality be reconciled, or, in terms of the Ancients, how can we achieve enantiodromia – a resolution of opposites? One way is to simply accept their opposition and use each as appropriate. This is the solution in physics with respect to the particle/wave paradox of light. Alternatively, one may be considered a
special case of, or descendent from, the other, e.g., Science as a special case of Design, or vice versa.
If Design is a special case of Science then resolution lies in the material world of DNA, neurons and brain lobes. This leads us, however, to circular causality in neurophysiology and elsewhere in nature (Freeman 1999). Thus while higher order states like consciousness may arise from matter, the mechanisms by which they arise, and how once established they sustain themselves is problematic at best. And a meta-methodological dilemma arises. I know that I know and it is with this reality that I must deal no matter the epiphenomenal nature of my consciousness.
If, on the other hand, Science is a special case of Design then we
should be able to identify not just differences but also commonalities.
In many ways Science, especially experimental instrumental science, is an
organized and collective pattern of human behaviour, i.e., a
recognizable institution sometimes called ‘The Republic of Science’ (M.Polany 1962b).
This is a behavioural pattern that, in evolutionary terms, has been laid down
very recently, and remains very fragile: it is only about four hundred years
old (Kuhn 1996, 167-168). It is so recent, in fact, that Joseph
Henderson in his analysis of psycho-cultural attitudes - social, religious,
aesthetic and philosophic – concludes: “we cannot claim for science… the same
epistemological authenticity that we can demonstrate in the four basic cultural
attitudes” (Henderson 1984,
Another facet of being a special case of a higher order is evidence of that higher order operating within the special case. Sparkes thus concludes: “pattern recognition is undoubtedly a deeply ingrained human capability, and that it should be used for the kind of information processing which goes on in science seems beyond reasonable doubt” (Sparkes 1972, 41). The repeated use of the terms aesthetics, design, gestalt and intuition by Thomas Kuhn in explaining The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is also evidence of the operation of Design within Science itself.
Even the media used by Reason and Science – language and mathematics – can themselves be considered examples of Design. It has thus been argued that the nature of the Greek alphabet itself facilitated development of Western thought. Marshall McLuhan, following the lead of his mentor, Harold Innis (1950, 1951) noted that we recognize the fundamental differences between the perception of literate and preliterate peoples but we do not appreciate the impact of different alphabets. McLuhan argues that only phonetically literate man lives in a ‘rational’ or ‘pictorial’ space. The discovery or invention of such a cognitive space
that is uniform, continuous and connected
was an environmental effect of the phonetic alphabet in the sensory life of
And if a phonetic alphabet creates a rational space in the mind then mathematics surely creates a ‘surpra-rational’ one. In this extreme space only the most rational of hypotheses can be formulated if they are to be proved. Arguably it was this patterning, first recognized by Pythagoras as the cognate relationship between matter and number that led the Logical Positivists to restrict knowledge to purely propositional terms best expressed in the language of mathematics. From this perspective language and mathematics are advanced forms of Design with literacy and numeracy sophisticated forms of pattern recognition.
The distinction is between Science which relies on words and numbers, i.e., semiotic ciphers perceived mainly by sight, and Design which calls on a wider range of elements of Mind and Matter acquired through all the senses - sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. In turn, if Science is but a special case of Design then the question arises as to the origins of Design itself. Our first ancestor homo habilis or the ‘handy man’ ( million years ago) is most noted for tool making. Patterning or tooling physical nature (using the opposable thumb) thus precedes the symbolic patterning of words and numbers by millions of years. In this regard Aldrich notes that:
It is with our hands that, fundamentally, we perform as artists in the technological operation. As such, our soul is in our hands. The eye may guide the hand but, in this case, the seeing is for the sake of the handling. Technological intelligence does not come to rest in the eye or the ear. Its consummation is in the hand. (Aldrich 1969, 382)
Even as Science explores deeper into matter and farther out into space, it too uncovers patterns or Design. The so-called laws of nature are in this sense examples of Design. The human tendency to make and see Design everywhere finds ultimate expression, rightly or wrongly, in ‘The Argument from Design’, an ancient argument for the existence of God:
In its most fresh and innocent form, it went something like this: you can tell by observing the order in the universe that the universe has been designed. This implies the existence of the Designer, whom, as Aquinas said, men call God. According to the wonderful story that this suggested, in the Beginning was the Designer with his Design or Purpose. (Aldrich 1969, 379)
This is, of course, the foundation of what is known in theological circles as ‘intelligent design’. On the more prosaic level of the competition of nations in a global knowledge-based economy, Alfred Lord Marshall noted long ago that: “it is every day more true that it is the pattern which sells the things” (emphasis added, Marshall 1920, 178).
Having split the Monad into a Dyad (Science and Design) we are still left with abstractions that to find expression must assume a form, i.e., must be reified. Form, according to Francis Bacon, is “the real or objective conditions on which a sensible quality or body depends for its existence” (OED, form, n, 4 c). Using TDI I have induced that knowledge takes three distinct forms, each of which, in turn, can be expressed as a Triad.
The primary Triad of form includes personal & tacit, codified and tooled knowledge. Personal & tacit knowledge is somatic, i.e., it is embodied in a natural person. Codified and tooled knowledge are extra-somatic (Sagan 1977), i.e., fixed in an external material matrix such as a book or machine. Extra-somatic knowledge remains a meaningless artifact, however, until someone reads it or makes it work by pushing the right buttons. This requires, of course, personal & tacit knowledge that comes with practice and experience. Thus all knowledge is ultimately personal and tacit.
Personal & tacit knowledge is fixed in a person as neuronal bundles of memories and as the trained reflexes of nerves and muscles. I have developed the term from Michael Polanyi’s seminal work Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy first published in 1958 (M. Polanyi 1962a). Tacit knowledge, which is strictly personal, is the experiential knowledge of performance embodied in the trained reflexes of nerve and muscle. Personal knowledge embodied in memory can usually be codified while tacit knowledge cannot.
Codified knowledge is fixed in a medium of communication that allows knowledge to cross time and space until another person reads or decodes it. By doing so the receiver adds it to his or her personal & tacit knowledge. This excludes machine-code such as computer and genomic languages intended to be read by a machine or matter, not by a human mind. Codified knowledge includes works of aesthetic intelligence, i.e., works of Art that carry semiotic meaning rather than physical function.
Works of technological intelligence embody tooled knowledge, i.e., different forms and types of knowledge tooled or designed into a functioning physical matrix as an instrument such as sensors to measure the material world, tools to manipulate it and toys to take pleasure from it. Instrument existentially extend our senses and grasp beyond genetic endowment. In the process, they become part of ourselves; they cease to be ‘other’ or ‘out there’ or alien. Michael Polanyi in the philosophy of science and Martin Heidegger in the philosophy of technology both use the hammer as an example (Polanyi 1962a, 174-75; Idhe 1991). That knowledge can be tooled or fixed into works of technological intelligence is demonstrated by the common practice of reverse engineering (Samuelson & Scotchmer 2002). Standards and techniques as well as machine-readable codes associated with the operation of works of technological intelligence are treated as forms of ‘soft-tooled’ knowledge.
The secondary Triad involves knowledge as inputs to the economic process – capital, labour and natural resources. Codified and tooled knowledge is fixed or frozen in an extra-somatic material matrix becoming marketable as ‘codified & tooled’ capital. Personal & tacit knowledge is fixed in the natural person who becomes marketable as ‘personal & tacit’ labour. At first glance, natural resources appear to have no relationship to knowledge. By definition, they exist in “the State that Nature hath provided” (quoting Locke, Dooley 2002, 4). They are just part of the environment until the knowing mind recognizes them as useful. Thus oil lay in the ground virtually untapped until invention of the internal combustion engine. Just as Polanyi (1962a, 56) says we recognize a tool by its purpose, we similarly identify natural resources by the human ends we attribute to them. At a given point in time a naturally occurring substance is seen as nothing but a part of the environment, e.g., bauxite ore. Take a pathway through the jungle one day and you see a large rock outcrop. The next day, with new knowledge, the same path leads not to a feature of the environment but to a bauxite deposit that can be converted into aluminum. It has now become a ‘toolable’ natural resource. Yet it has not changed, one day to the next, rather new knowledge allows us to see it in a very different light.
The tertiary knowledge Triad involves knowledge as the final outputs of a knowledge-based economy – the Person, the Code and the Work. Inputs are used to fix or tool knowledge, much as mainstream economists believe producers fix utility, into final goods and services valued in-and-of-themselves (or what I call ‘toys’ because there is no other word in English describing a thing valued in-and-of-itself)) rather than as a means to an end. In this sense, inputs are utilitarian and outputs are non-utilitarian. It is important to note the distinction in the use of the word ‘utility’. In general usage it means, in effect, useful for a purpose. In Economics, however, it means the number of units of pleasure/pain or ‘utiles’ contained in a good or service and which can be extracted by the consumer.
Knowledge outputs are, however, ambiguous in nature. For example, the Person can be considered a Work produced through education, experience and training. A work of aesthetic intelligence can be considered Code in that it carries semiotic meaning. A Work of technological intelligence can be considered the experiential extension of the senses and grasp of the Person.
For purposes of clarity, I restrict the meaning of Person to the natural person as carrier of personal & tacit knowledge. I restrict Code to extra-somatic material matrices carrying semiotic meaning and restrict Works to extra-somatic material matrices carrying physical function, i.e., the ability to measure and/or manipulate the physical world rather than the human mind. This includes ‘soft-tooled’ knowledge such as standards and techniques as well as machine-readable instructions such as
computer and genomic code. Ultimately, however, a Code and a Work have meaning or function only through the agency of a Person.
Two sub-disciplines of the natural sciences (sub-atomic physics and genomics) suggest a common denominator for the organization of information in nature – the qubit or four-fold bit. The traditional binary bit of information theory (0, 1), or ‘on-off’, is extended by these sub-disciplines to the qubit which can alternatively be expressed as (0, 1, 2, 3) or (1, 2, 3, 4). A similar pattern has been revealed in analytic psychology.
First, in sub-atomic physics the quark is the smallest known
structure of physical nature. Quarks combine to produce a field effect
called hadrons, e.g., protons and neutrons. Quarks come in 6
flavours and three colours – charmed, up, down, strange, top and bottom, red,
green and blue (Nielson 2002).
Weizsacker’s quantum theory of Ur-objects argues that the foundation of
physical reality – the quark – can be operationally described as a ‘qubit’ of
information (Lyre 1995;
That Weizsaker’s quibit is not just ‘theory’ is demonstrated by ongoing efforts
to develop the quantum computer based upon an implication of this theory –
Second, in genomics the informatics of DNA is based on combinations of four nucleotides or a qubit made up of adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). These are always paired A-T or C-G. A sequence of three pairs is called a codon encoding an amino acid. Amino acids, in turn, combine to form proteins “the molecular machines of life” (Hood 2002). The information storage and processing capacity of DNA exceeds all other forms by at least an order of magnitude, e.g., computers.
Third, in his analytic study of the human psyche – in patients as well as in the myths, fairy tales and ‘black arts’ of human cultures throughout history – Jung uncovered that four is “the minimal number by which order can be created” (Jung  1966, 46). He called this ‘the quaternary’ or ‘union’ in contrast to the triad (three) which is, in psychic terms, masculine, and the dyad (two) which is feminine. He also identified four basic ways of knowing or a qubit consisting of thinking, intuition, feeling and sensation – the results of which combine or entangle to generate knowledge as human consciousness. That these four ways of knowing are not just ‘theory’ is demonstrated by the fact that they have spawned one of the most widely used psychological testing instruments in the world: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ®.
Qubits were used to model different facets of knowledge. For example, there are four different etymological ways ‘to know’ – (1) by the senses, (2) mind, (3) doing, and, (4) experience. This quibit will be called a ‘WIT’. There are five ‘pure’ cases in which only one or all four ways of knowing are engaged - (1, 0, 0, 0), (0, 2, 0, 0), (0, 0, 3, 0), (0, 0, 0, 4) & (1, 2, 3, 4). In most cases, however, I suspect more than one but
less than four will be engaged, e.g., (0, 2, 0, 4) or, to know by the mind and experience as in the re-processing and re-ordering of memories.
While absence (0) is clear, presence is not straight forward. Rather presence varies in intensity. For example, physical pain (knowing by sensation) felt during a marathon (knowing by doing) may be so severe as to force one to leave the race, or mild enough to be overcome by will power (knowing by the mind). Thus like quarks, different components of a quibit are entangled. In physics this means, among other things, that having been in physical contact at one point in time they remain connected or entangled when separated in space and time. It is this phenomenon of entanglement that provides the foundation for quantum computing. Six qubits have been identified so far. I will treat each from a disciplinary perspective: etymology, psychology, epistemology (inclusive of pedagogy), law and economics.
The WIT is a qubitic or four-fold measure of ways of knowing in the English language. There are four meanings of ‘to know’ – by the Senses, Mind, Doing, and/or Experience. Three of these meanings have accrued to the Old English verb ‘to know’, cnáw with its original meaning of to know by the senses. From the verb ‘to wit’ has come to know by the mind, and from the verb ‘can’ has come to know by doing. In addition, the meaning of ‘to wit’ as memory and of ‘can do’ as reflex captures the meaning of to know by experience, i.e., by memory (mind) and reflex (body).
The WIT is, therefore, by definition, an English language construct. In other languages there may, and probably are, senses of ‘to know’ that can be expressed in English only with great difficulty, if at all. The Logical Positivists attempted to overcome this problem by restricting themselves to the language of mathematics. Mathematics, however, is a subset of language, not the other way around. Similarly, English, and other Western European languages use Platonic idealized nouns not found in all major languages, e.g., Japanese (Kawasaki 2002). These etymological differences appear to have competitiveness implications.
The PSI is a qubitic measure of psychological ways of knowing including Reason, Revelation, Sentiment and Sensation. In each individual, all four function. Like quarks, they do not exist alone. There are no free faculties. They exist together uniquely embodied as the ‘self-awareness’, ‘consciousness’, ‘knowing’, ‘mind’ or ‘wit’ of the individual human being. This uniqueness colours the use and interaction of all faculties.
The IMP is a qubitic measure of epistemological ways of knowing. These include the Natural & Engineering Sciences (NES), the Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS), the Arts (literary, media,
performing and visual), and the Practices or self-regulating professions. In brief, the NES generate knowledge about the physical world. In application, they produce physical technology to manipulate matter and energy to satisfy human want, needs and desires. The HSS generate knowledge about being human – individually and collectively in families, communities, firms and nation-states. When applied, they produce organizational technology, i.e., the ability to shape and mold human institutions and societies. The Arts generate knowledge about the human heart and emotion. In application, they produce aesthetic or design technology, i.e., the ability to manipulate emotion providing a ‘technology of the heart’. The Practices apply knowledge to answer practical and pressing problems of daily human life, e.g., death and taxes.
While the IMP provides a qubitic measure of epistemological knowledge, another can be identified at the pedagogic level. Knowledge can thus be classified according to its domain/practice (d/p), discipline (d), sub-discipline (sd) and specialty (s). This quartet constitutes the qubit PED. In effect, a National Innovation System (OECD 1997) is constructed by selecting specific knowledge domains and practices (IMP) to be preferentially encouraged by national governments at specific levels of concentration, i.e., domain/practice, discipline, sub-discipline and specialty (PED).
The IPR is a qubitic measure of the privatization of knowledge as legal property. Intellectual property rights are granted to new knowledge fixed in a material matrix for a limited time. They are granted to natural and legal persons. Certain rights under the Civil Code, but not under Anglo-American Common Law, are “inalienable, unattachable, impresciptible and unrenounceable” to the natural person (Article 11, Decision 351, Andean Community, 1993). Such rights echo back to ancient animism and are deemed self-evident under ‘natural law’ (Taylor 1929, 1930), the supposed root of the Civil Code.
The matrix in which new knowledge is legally fixed may be utilitarian as with patents & designs; non-utilitarian as with copyrights & trademarks; or a person – natural or legal – as with trade secrets and know-how. All other knowledge (new and old) falls into the fourth qubitic slot, the public domain or ‘knowledge commons’. The public domain, however, unlike a natural commons such as the oceans, seas and atmosphere, grows and expands with exploitation. It is also historically and constitutionally related to freedom of the press and freedom of expression in genera – two foundations of popular democracy (Alstyne 2003).
Sui generis or ‘one-off’ rights may be fixed in any matrix and are usually created by selecting from and mixing the bundle of rights collectively constituting traditional IPRs. In reality, however, each national intellectual property regime is sui generis in that it is the unique cultural product of the distinctive legal history of a nation-state. This is
one reason why intellectual property rights are subject only to ‘national treatment’ rather than harmonization under the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO. Such differences serve not only to distinguish one nation-state from another but also provide an opportunity for competitive advantage in a global knowledge-based economy (Paquet 1990).
The FLX (pronounced ‘flex’) is a qubitic measure of economic knowing, specifically of technological change. In the Standard Model, technological change refers to the impact of new knowledge on the production function of a firm or nation. Such new knowledge may be: disembodied or systemic to the economy such as general improvements in communications or transportation; embodied in a specific piece of equipment such as the transistor in a transistor radio; endogenous i.e., developed internally to a firm or nation; and/or, exogenous, i.e., developed externally to the firm or nation.
However, the FLX can be lumpy and uneven. It can also be negative in that ‘de-industrialization’ can occur whereby knowledge moves ‘off-shore’ and is lost to a nation or firm or through ‘de-skilling’ whereby traditional praxis is embodied in a new instrument and similarly lost but this time to a machine. Such a loss of knowledge is somewhat analogous to the ‘Kuhnian loss’ experienced in scientific revolutions in the shift from one paradigm to another (Fuller 2000). On the one hand, output may be increased or costs reduced; on the other hand, there is a loss of knowledge as domestic production is replaced by foreign or advanced machine production. This is one reason for not using the conventional term ‘flow’ which conveys a sense of constancy. Exogenous changes like innovation of a new general purpose engines may transform the entire economy (David 1990, 335). On the other hand, endogenous tinkering on the shop floor, the ‘D’ or development in ‘R&D’, may contribute only to the specific firm. A FLX is a measure of all four types of technological change or ‘new knowledge’ as it affects the production function of a nation or a firm. Such new knowledge may emerge from the NES as physical technological change, from the HSS as organizational change, from the Arts as design change or some combination thereof. It may also enter the production function in the form of any or all of personal & tacit labour, codified & tooled capital and/or toolable natural resources.
TDI yielded a four-fold model of knowledge as Monad, Dyad, Triad and Qubit (MDTQ). As a monad, knowledge is a non-differentiated biological need to know. It is also immeasurable, incommensurable and its expression, through human language including mathematics, is inherently limited and biased. As a Dyad, knowledge is acquired in two radically different yet related ways, by Science or reduction and by Design or construction. As a Triad, knowledge takes the form of personal & tacit, codified and tooled knowledge fixed in a person or an extra-somatic matrix. It is marketable as an input to, or intermediate good in, the production process as codified & tooled capital,
personal & tacit labour and toolable natural resources. Knowledge is also marketable as a final output as a Person, Code and Work. The Person, however, is the ultimate input and output of a knowledge-based economy because a Code or Work has meaning or function only through the agency of a Person. As a Qubit, knowledge from six disciplines was characterized by four entangled knowledge bits: the etymological WIT, the psychological PSI, the epistemological IMP, pedagogic PED, legal IPR and economic FLX.
The resulting Competitiveness Paradigm (Exhibit 2) is, at best, a structural representation of a knowledge-based economy. At worst, it is a simple taxonomical one. The question arises, however, as to what links and lubricates the elements of, and fuels the model as a whole? The fuel is simply the biological human need to know. The linkage or lubricant would constitute a quintessence flowing from the MDTQ model. ‘Quintessence’ means “the ‘fifth essence’ of ancient and mediæval philosophy, supposed to be the substance of which the heavenly bodies were composed, and to be actually latent in all things, the extraction of it by distillation or other methods being one of the great objects of alchemy” (OED, quintessence, n, 1). While four is the minimum number to bring order out of chaos (Jung  1966, 46), five is the number of change, of transformation and of magic, e.g., the pentangle or star of Solomon on military aircraft of many nations.
Arguably, the quintessence of a knowledge-based economy is government. In the Standard Model of economics there is no government. Under conditions of perfect competition all costs are internalized by producers in the market price. There are no uncosted externalities like pollution. In turn, the consumer paying the market price internalizes all benefits including knowledge. There are no external benefits as with a public good. There are, in fact, no costs or benefits external to the market transaction. There is, therefore, no need for government in the economy. Ironically, the Standard Model shares this conclusion with Marxism. Under conditions of perfect communism there will be a ‘withering away of the State’. In Leninist terms, there will be no role for the Party as a revolutionary vanguard because the revolution would have happened.
In a knowledge-based economy, however, government is not a necessary evil that will eventually disappear. Rather it is a positive necessity for such an economy to exist. This is most evident with respect to the privatization of new knowledge through statutory intellectual property rights – copyrights & trademarks, industrial design & patents and know-how & trade secrets. Government, however, plays, at one and the same time, five different roles including that of: Custodian, Facilitator, Patron, Architect and Engineer of the national knowledge-base including rights to private knowledge and that in the public domain.
treasures’ and by departments of government mandated to protect, preserve and promote national culture.
In playing these five roles, government constructs what is known as the
‘national innovation system’ (OECD 1997).
Design of such a system involves the conscious institutionalized linkage
of knowledge generating institutions such as universities and public sector
laboratories to the private sector through the active mediation of
government. With respect to universities
this new institutional matrix arguably constitutes the greatest change in the
mandate of the university since creation of the first research university in
Within the MDTQ model, the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy can be assessed relative to their comparative advantage at each level of the model. Does a given nation-
state place certain types of knowledge out of bounds to be treated as a monad? Does it enjoy a dyadic advantage in either Science or Design? Is it better at developing personal & tacit labour, codified & tooled capital or toolable natural resources? Is it comparatively better at producing Persons, Codes or Works relative to relevant rivals? Similarly, comparative advantage can be identified at the qubitic level. At all levels of the model the policy question, after identifying comparative advantage, become whether to accept the current balance and blend or change it and if so, how?.
Beyond limitations and weaknesses inherent in the Competitiveness Paradigm, there remains the fact that the event horizons of many more disciplines remain to be surveyed for ‘knowledge about knowledge’. And, of equal importance, there remains many significant non-English expressions of ‘knowledge about knowledge’ to be collected. Accordingly, not only is this article and its parent dissertation limited by the disciplinary sample surveyed, it is also handicapped by being rooted in the English language with its inherent limitations and weaknesses that I hope to have at least partially revealed. These weaknesses will inevitably plague any other researcher who may choose to apply TDI or a variation on the theme to another meta-methodological dilemma.
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