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Knowing and understanding stuff

  1. Feb 2, 2004 #1
    What is the difference between knowing a thing and understanding a thing?

    Why is it so often that even when people acknowledge that they know the right thing to do their actions differ from their words?
    For example, most everyone agrees that lying is bad but we all lie more or less.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2004 #2
    When I was still a young kid (prepubescent), I liked to fool around with my chemistry set. I prided myself on the facts I learned from the manual and some library books. One day, an adult asked me some chemistry questions.

    He: Do you know what the formula for common table salt is?

    Me: Yes, sir. It is NaCl.

    He: What does that mean?

    Me: It means that salt is made of two elements, sodium, called natrium in German, and chlorine.

    He: OK. Is sodium safe to eat?

    (I "knew" that one)

    Me: No. Sodium is a highly caustic metal that will burn your mouth and throat if you eat it.

    He: And how about Chlorine?

    (I "knew" that too)

    Me: Chlorine is a poisonous gas.

    He: OK. Sodium is a caustic metal and chlorine is a poisonous gas. But salt is a crystal, yes?

    Me: Yes.

    He: And it dissolves in water, yes?

    Me: Yes.

    He: Can you eat salt?

    Me: Yes, obviously. We put it on food.

    He: If sodium and chlorine are both dangerous to humans, why is salt safe to eat?

    Me: {GRRR!} (silently to myself)

    I was mad. I couldn't answer that. I "knew" some stuff but I didn't "understand" yet.
  4. Feb 3, 2004 #3
    jammieg, if you can answer that question, you will understand how the universe works, because that is the only way it may be understood. To understand is what we strive to do, but knowing that is beyond the walls of the bowl.

    If a human being has expectations of another, you will be disappointed because you do not see what is there, but what you project to be there and as the old saying goes, if our lives were exactly like theirs, how different would our actions be. Rightness, wrongness? Only repercussions. You understand this already though. Patience, concious effort and a refusal to give up can change things and sometimes people.
  5. Feb 6, 2004 #4
    Thanks Tenyears but I don't see the connection, I'll take a physiological stab at it anyway though which is pretty much what I already suggested at the start of this post, that understanding is doing and knowing is being able to talk about stuff and look cool.
    Understanding a thing demands that one first accept they don't know and will never really come to fully understand even the simplist concept like effeciency, and as a person practicing DOING things effeciently or putting it to use it has a real physical change on the brain for better or worse, but when a person only learns what effeciency is they are merely able to light up their speech center in some way to impress someone in their deep knowledge when in fact they are only lying to themselves that they understand, and lying is the best way to get out of effort, but then such things may amount to nothing whereas lying is a more effecient way of getting what one wants...in the short term.[b(]
  6. Feb 6, 2004 #5
    jammieg, you understand the walls of the bowl. I have read another post you wrote, I am not saying which, but you also understand something else.

    I must say this, I will tell you it is true, because it is. It is possible, for a human being to "know" something which has never before been experienced in what society recognized as their discreet human body. I sometimes know things and there is no doubt. When a human being experiences this, they will never need anyone to tell them if or is it, because it is without question beyond things. There is a time coming, and I don't know when, but the proof of the knowing is on the way.
  7. Feb 6, 2004 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    You can know a thing, like I know there is nuclear fission, but I don't understand it.
    Ok, I answered the question, but I still don't know how the universe works.
  8. Feb 6, 2004 #7
    Well everyone gets it in their own way I guess, eventually, I think basically the virtues are real and long ago people who walked far down those paths were called nobles and it was no joke that they tried very hard to keep everyone happy and holding together but occasionally the lust for war was too great. What do you suppose is comming more specifically? Lets just say these are speculations of the future.
    Every once in awhile I have some strange dream that is so symbolic of how things are and the dream tells me exactly what I need to know, I suspect that your mysteriousness is kind of like this, but the problem is that dream mean different things to everyone so it's real difficult to communicate.
    Me either Evo, I only think I know some things but have proved nothing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2004
  9. Feb 6, 2004 #8
    I understand the path you have explained, it would be arrogant of me to say all of it because I am not you. I may say this, there is a state, beyond image, beyond fact and it will be reality to you when it happens and only when. It does not go beyond the universe, it is not super and it is not meta, and it is beyond convinced.

    Evo, I do not know nulcear fission, I believe I have seen images of this images of that, facts that interelate into what seems to be a flowing understanding that reinforces itself into a system that possibly works, and yet I do not know that fission is real. Seems foolish doesn't it. If you said the picture you had posted was you, I could believe you and yet, what would I know. I could meet someone who was that picture and know them and yet would I ever know it was you. I could believe you or not, and yet what would I know? What do any of us truely know? There is a state beyond the skin.
  10. Feb 6, 2004 #9
    jammieg, if I told you what happen and how, what generated it, the circumastances that followed and all that transpired before and since, threw in a little scientific method as best that could be thrown in at the time and during it's exclamation, I give you my word as I am writing this with a grinch smile, you would be at least a beliver, which is what you are now and what you would be then even though it would go beyond any reasonable statistical probability. There are days when I found it hard to comprehend what was happening was really happening.
  11. Feb 7, 2004 #10
    here's the best explanation possible:

    (insert encoded silence above)
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  12. Feb 7, 2004 #11
    Ah so you say bowl and I say brain...you truly have a strange language to me, I will try it, not to worry about locked nobles, because I do and such fancy isn't my suit for long though they want me to wear it, the only limits are the limits we imagine. People run from themselves too often but who are they running from but the first bowl that is themselves and what they don't want themselves to know, I've seen the face of that bowl and it is terrified of me but it also knows that it's time, time is always on our side and it's all known by almost everyone now except a very few who even now are growing tired and it's selfishness that will be the downfall of those poor souls as always, unless they learn as others that deliberate effort toward all things good and bad with embrace may be the ultimate virtue among following the others(I only talk of it now), that one's hands may grow free as they do what they are meant to do but will also grow to choose what they apply their hands to for greater degrees of good and bad. The reason I think this is that when the day comes that having a single thought can instantly give a person the most pleasure they've ever known, very few people will be able to let go and find balance in things through doing and acceptance and may die, myself included.
    I walked around a bush a million times in someone's place before I cleared it in one place at one time it helped me realized I was everyone too and then began to be myself- reason is immortal.:wink:
  13. Feb 7, 2004 #12
    The reason I think this is that when the day comes that having a single thought can instantly give a person the most pleasure they've ever known, very few people will be able to let go and find balance in things through doing and acceptance and may die, myself included.

    that is the fear, yes. rather, in its case, the concern. that most certainly happened to it before the final/initial moment.

    I walked around a bush a million times in someone's place before I cleared it in one place at one time it helped me realized I was everyone too and then began to be myself- reason is immortal.

    and since we are self-aware mathematical structures, pure reason, we are immortal. yeah. just be your Self and be cool. try to relax as often as you can and by that i mean meditate included. you'll find yourself expanding while the universe seems to shrink though that's another artifact of perception indicating something on a grander scale.

    you're all invited to tune in:
  14. Feb 7, 2004 #13
    We may love the truth, but we are tied to our hedonism.
  15. Feb 7, 2004 #14
    jammieg, you are very close to the mindset you need for true experience if there is such a thing. If a high is all that it is would I be here on this forum? Maybe, maybe it was postive comment of some of my posts by you which I am responding to, in a form of reciprocity which in the end is like placing money in ones own bank account. Proof, proof, proof, the world wants proof. Would it know with proof? No. I can change no one. I can give them nothing. Truth is not a question of change, it is a question of witnessing. What is this thing called witnessing? Hmm.... Nothing, maybe I lie. If you want to go to the next phase, you must now deny what you believe to know, interact and walk without expectation and see what is. Can you do this? One of these days, we must all walk the plank and step into the unknown, as to where and when this occurs, it happens when it does. I asked one day, and I was answered.
  16. Feb 7, 2004 #15
    the only proof is witnessing it yourself. the only way to know something is to ... identify with it. anything 'less' is just knowing about it.

    and all thoughts and words are lies in the sense that a description of truth is not the truth as a description of a cup is not a cup.

    random quote that may amuse you:
    If one does those three things well enough, he even knows how things are going to end up at the end of the physical universe, which makes predicting in the meantime child's play.

    For eaxmlpe, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. If, hwoveer, the lsat ltteer is out of pclae, it all mekas no snese.

    Similarly, if one accurately perceives what exists now (the first letter is correctly in the first position), and knows how everything is going to exist in the end (the last letter is correctly in the last position), he can see all the big picture (the whole word) and can make sense out of everything in the middle. Accordingly, he can easily predict the future (the various letters that come after the first).

    from the gospel of thomas:
    18 The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?"
    Jesus said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.
    Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death."
    19 Jesus said, "Congratulations to the one who came into being before coming into being."

    thus, congratulations to, hopefully eventually, us all.

    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  17. Feb 7, 2004 #16
    This is a correct statement, so in using this, what would this say of the scientific method in accordance with all known fact and knowledge?
  18. Feb 7, 2004 #17
    what is scientific 'fact' but an account of what one, many, witnesses?

    if you were to tell me what you witnessed, i would believe you witnessed it or you were lying though i would doubt the latter.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  19. Feb 7, 2004 #18
    They see/experience relative view(s), witnessing a relative process or a relative object. Is this witnessing?
  20. Feb 7, 2004 #19
    i can't think (LOL) of a reason why not. but i know what you're getting at and in that sense, no it is not witnessing. remember that you don't have to bear witness but bearing false witness is advised against though that seems unavoidable if one opens one's mouth, so to speak. thus perhaps that prescription is to stop talking, stop writing, etc. i just hope that the account of what i witness is accurate enough to 'get the job done' as is their hope.
  21. Feb 8, 2004 #20
    Belief = B

    Understanding = U

    U(B) > B(U)

    [T|F = T ] ---> U ---> B

    Symmetry forms the basis of logic, thus symmetry forms the basis of truth.

    To understand is to believe, but to believe is not necessarily to understand.
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