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Karl Popper’s the 3 Worlds of Knowledge Research Paper


The work of Karl Popper on defining and analyzing what knowledge is has been considered of great importance in the current world of philosophy and psychology. This scholar tries to define what knowledge is, and holds that there isn’t such thing as object of knowledge.

According to Resnick (2004, p. 89), “To know is to be able to operate adequately in an individual or cooperative situation.” Karl Popper then comes with theory of three world of knowledge. Based on this theory, the physical universe is the first world. This world consist the reality and truth such as chemistry, physics and energy.

The second world is the world of personal perceptions, cognition and experiences. It is important to understand that personal perception can be subjective at times. This world involves what we think, anticipate of it, the hypothesis we make of it, and what we represent.

Resnick (2004, p. 87) says “Is the sum total of the objective abstract products of the human mind? It consists of such artifacts as books, tools, theories, models, libraries, computers, and networks. It is quite a diverse mixture.” This theory holds that the three worlds of knowledge are interrelated. It is through world one that world two exist, while world two tries to regulate and control world one.

On the other hand, world three predicts and describes world one, while world one is the logic of world three. This means that knowledge is around us in the form of world one, which then becomes part of us in the form of world two, and then finally stored in the context of history in world three.

The Nonsense of ‘Knowledge Management’

According to Girard (2005, p. 76), “Knowledge management’ means different things to different companies and that one or two of them that have previously dabbled with the idea have moved on to other things.” If a definition were to be given of knowledge management, this scholar says that the answers will be as varied as the people giving out the definitions.

The essence of knowledge management is to help the firm be able to retrieve this information to help it in its future management. However, this scholar notes that the essence of knowledge management has been lost. Firms are spending a lot on consultancy firms to ensure that they have improved knowledge management systems.

They have resorted to using services of such firms as Deloitte and Touche, Ernst and Young, KPMG Consulting, McKinsey and Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers among other consultancy firms. They do this on the basis that knowledge is an important tool that helps in the efficient running of the organizations. However, this is lost when it comes to the use of knowledge.

According to Resnick (2004, p. 34), “Only about 35% of their world-wide sample of 451 companies was using ‘knowledge management’, reporting a satisfaction rating of about 3.5 on a five-point scale.” This means that despite the perceived importance of knowledge management, most firms have not taken it seriously, and only a few are benefiting from it. This means that the much hyped importance of information management has meant nothing to most companies around the world.

What is a System and how is it Related to Knowledge Management System?

Girard (2005, p. 67) defines a system as an integrated body of various components which work towards achieving a similar goal the system is meant to perform. Systems always bring together various components, each playing its own role, but with all focused on achieving a particular desire. System has a close relationship with knowledge management.

As was described in the section above, knowledge management refers to a deliberate effort by a firm to try and create meaningful information, make it available to relevant individuals and bodies, and store it in historical artifacts for the purpose of future use. For this to be realized there is need to have a system.

There is need to have means through which this knowledge can be managed in a manner that would make it relevant to those who would use it in future. This would mean that there is a need for a system. There is a need to develop mechanism through which this knowledge will be helpful to the organization or the individuals.

As was mentioned in Poppers 3 world, knowledge management would need a system. There would be the component responsible for collection of this information. The information would then be transferred to another component which will sort and classify the information.

After classification, another component will be responsible for storage. The last component will help in retrieving this information whenever there is need for it. All these components must work together and within the expectations in order to have a system that is efficient and reliable.

Knowledge Analysis Principles

Knowledge analysis has raised a lot of concern from many quarters. According to Resnick (2004, p. 57), when knowledge has been collected from the field, it may not make a lot of sense to the intended users. The principle of knowledge management requires that such knowledge should be analyzed in order to make sense.

As mentioned above, knowledge can only be considered useful when it can be applied to a certain scenario and it can make sense to the extent of its explanation. Ontology has always been defined as the state of being in existence. Knowledge can be considered to exist if its form is within the expectation of the users. Knowledge analysis involves various processes taken at various stages.

Knowledge management has been discussed extensively in the sections above, and in this section, it comes out clearly that it takes a process to present a piece of knowledge to an individual or an organization. According to Resnick (2004, p. 12), the principle of knowledge stipulates that what one group of individual may consider as a piece of knowledge may not mean anything to another group, and therefore, may not be considered as a piece of knowledge.

For instance, when a doctor sends a patient to the lab for a medical check-up, the lab technician will conduct the test and present the findings in medical terms. The patient may not find this report any useful until he or she presents this information for interpretation by the doctor.

While this information from the lab will be an important knowledge and an insight for what the patient is suffering from in the eyes of the doctor, the patient may not understand anything out of it if the knowledge is not processed and presented in a much simpler form. This makes knowledge analysis an important component of knowledge management.

The Knowledge Cycle

Firestone and McElroy are lauded for having pulled together a number of models to construct what they referred to as knowledge cycle (Gerami 2010, p. 135). They start by explaining the fact that knowledge is already in existence. Knowledge will not be created from vacuum, but is can always be twisted to suite varying needs.

If knowledge is already in existence as these scholars state, then it means that it will always change its nature depending on what is expected. The knowledge cycle would therefore, mean the changes this knowledge would undergo from one form to another as it changes its nature in line with the needed changes.

While some scholars have argued that knowledge is a higher order when compared to information, McElroy considers knowledge to be a subset of information. This scholar says that the life cycle of knowledge starts with a problem which demands for a solution. It is this problem which will necessitate the need to generate and process data into a meaningful knowledge that would solve the problem that arose.

McElroy further analyzes two sides of knowledge management. The first side is the demand side of knowledge management while the second side is the supply side of knowledge management. This scholar says that most of the focus of knowledge management has always been focused on the supply side of knowledge management because of the general assumption that knowledge is already in existence.

Girard (2005, p. 13) says, “This assumption results in an unholy emphasis on codification, storage, retrieval, distribution and sharing at the expense of knowledge production.” This assumption may jeopardize completeness of knowledge life cycle which demands for a comprehensive analysis of the information in order to ensure that the final knowledge that will be presented is that which is desired.

KMD Design Approaches

Since it was discovered in the 20th century, knowledge management has increasingly become important as a central part of management of organizations. Knowledge management has become very important, and this has created a knowledge management designs and approaches to help explain these factors. There are a number of models that have been designed to help explain knowledge management in the contemporary world.

One of the most popular models in the current world is Ackoff’s Pyramid of Wisdom. This model was developed by Russel Ackoff as a description of the process of learning. According to Gerami (2010, p. 233), this model was considered one of the best approaches of managing information in those early years.

However, as new models were introduced, it became apparent that the model has a number of shortcomings, making it inappropriate for the current knowledge management. Scholars have stated that this model do not have any place in knowledge management as a discipline unless substantial amendment is done on it.

Another model that has been used is Lundvall and Johnson’s ‘Six Knows’. This model talks of six knows as know what, know why, know how, know where, know who, know when and know where. This model emphasizes on an all round analysis of information by trying to respond to all of the possible questions that may arise from a possible source of information. It is through this that information will be transformed into knowledge that can be consumed.

List of References

Gerami, M 2010, “Knowledge Management”, International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, vol. 7. no. 2, pp. 234-237.

Girard, J 2005, “The Inukshuk: A Canadian Knowledge Management Model”, KMPro Journal, vol. 2. no. 1, pp. 9-16.

Resnick, L 2004, “Management requirements for knowledge management systems in the virtual organisation”, International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, vol. 2. no. 4, pp. 12-78.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Karl Popper's the 3 Worlds of Knowledge." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/karl-poppers-the-3-worlds-of-knowledge/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Karl Popper's the 3 Worlds of Knowledge'. 3 July.

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