Konubinix' opinionated web of thoughts

How Do We Increase Our Knowledge in Ordinary Life?


how do we increase our knowledge in ordinary life? usages ordinaires des mots, évolution des langues vernaculaires

When we don’t know a concept, we generally learn it using examples. No one told me what is a chair, but people showed be several instances of chairs and said « chair ». That is how I learned what a chair is (ostensive definition).

Following the idea of causal theory of reference, we can assume that whoever told we what a chair is learned it from someone else as well.

My definition of chair is only the end of a chain of définitions ostensives, and I will contribute to another chain of someone else.

Using intuitively bayesian thinking with heuristics and successive cognitive dissonance/rationalisation, we can assume that knowledge that was the most coherent amongst the speakers we met stuck better in our brain that knowledge that was not coherent1.

In the end, what we take as defining the concept and knowledge is less the result of some conscious reasoning and experimentation about the world than the aggregation of coherent thoughts that were given to us.

The work we use don’t have their meaning because they are defined as such in a dictionary. Instead, words are defined as such in dictionaries because we collectively gave them those meanings.

Also, because of the high speed of information nowadays, it happens that words spread so fast that they end up loosing their initial meaning. The new meaning becoming the most spread one. Trying to make things clearer, people use other terms that may become other buzz words and we sometimes end up with several wording that mean different things amongst educated speaker but that are synonymous in the ordinary language. Think of bid data, data mining, machine learning, scrum, agile, blockchain.

Notes linking here

  1. This most likely leads to children progressively understanding that father Christmas most likely does not exist because of all those contradictory stories. ↩︎