Is knowing about symbols and understanding about images?
I suspect that both knowledge and understanding are constructed from symbols (words) and images but I also suspect that most of knowledge is constructed of symbols and most of understanding is constructed of images.
Let us begin at the beginning.
We perceive something because it is meaningful to us. Out of the infinity of possibility our perception is not random; we focus our chose of what to perceive based upon what we find to be meaningful, one can imagine our perceptive apparatus scanning the world of possibility while seeking to focus upon that which is meaningful. If this were a western movie you would see the scout, i.e. the scanning apparatus, out front looking for “sign” in order to follow the tracks of the prey.
Meaningfulness is the result of our history, i.e. it is a result of our past, our present, and our will for the future. Basic-level categories stand at the foundation of our world of meaning because image schemas structure our perceptions and bodily movements.
Understanding has two major subcategories: there is direct understanding and there is created understanding. Direct understanding derives from directly understood sentences and from directly understood situations. SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) informs me that “A sentence is directly understood if the concepts associated with it are directly meaningful. Aspects of a particular situation are directly experienced if they play a causal role in the experience…An aspect of a directly experienced situation is directly understood if it is preconceptually structured.”
“Truth relative to direct understanding can be considered as a correspondence between the understanding of the sentence and the understanding of the situation.”
Objectivism informs us that if we know X that means that X is objectively true. SGCS has abandoned objectivism as a useful a priori philosophy and thus must develop a new meaning for the concept of knowledge.
“We get our basic knowledge of our immediate physical environments from our basic-level interactions with the environment, through perceiving, touching, and manipulating.” We may get our knowledge from many avenues but “the things we feel we know the best are those that can be most closely related to basic-level experience.”
Basic-level categories are those that the child learns first because they are about what the world feels like through our senses. Technology greatly enhances our senses and thus our basic-level categories are often greatly enhanced as we grow older and begin to use such things as a microscope or telescope or NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance).
“It is the technological extension of basic-level perception and manipulation that makes us confident that science provides us with real knowledge…Scientific “knowledge”, and scientific understanding, to a large degree, depends on the technological extension of basic-level perception.”
Knowledge is relative to understanding. Knowledge is built upon direct understanding and is extended by created understanding.
I claim that created understanding is developed slowly much like a papier-mâché statue. We create new understanding much like we create a jig-saw puzzle picture except that the pieces are molded and shaped by knowledge and understanding and do not come pre-cut and determined but are an act of will in conjunction with all other aspects of human consciousness. Created understanding is perhaps that which is most meaningful to the individual because it is a unique creation by that individual.
Quotes from Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind by George Lakoff