From Data to Wisdom in the Global and Civilizational Context: The Cognitive Perspective

From Data to Wisdom in the Global and Civilizational Context: The Cognitive Perspective

Andrew Targowski (Computer Information Systems, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/ijkbo.2014070105
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The purpose of this study is to define what is information, mainly in terms of cognition units, and also find out its other perspectives and images. Once information is understood, then it is possible to define its role in wisdom development in general and in civilization. First information will be defined in terms of several perspectives. Secondly information will be defined in term of its images. The basic concept of information is in the cognitive perspective which recognizes cognition units. Among these units are perceived: data, information, concept, knowledge, and wisdom. Some global and civilizational impact upon the concept of wisdom is evaluated. Finally, the model of comprehensive wisdom is defined. Wisdom is defined in terms of the evolution of minds, from Basic Mind and Whole Mind, through Global Mind to Universal Mind. In conclusion, the wisdom of these minds is defined for each of eight current civilizations: Western, Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, and African.
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2. The Perspectives Of Information

2.1. The Cognitive Perspective of Information

In order to describe the central role of information in civilization development, the theory of Information Ecology creates a model that views the existing body of accumulated human information as distinct and apart from the minds of information users. This body of information is called a Cognition Reservoir (CR) as is shown in Figure 1. The recognition of the CR permits researchers and users to assign descriptive characteristics to cognition units (among them information), and to treat the CR as though it was an independent entity of civilization. Information Ecology considers the interaction between users and the CR to be the most significant factor shaping human civilization.

Figure 1.



The Cognition Reservoir contains a semantic cross-section of cognition (decreased chaos) with cognition units of data, information, concept, knowledge, and wisdom. These units are created by humans’ science and practice (culture in general) and are stored and retrieved by different kinds of technology, such as writing, papyrus, books, print, libraries, computers, and so forth, which lead to the rise of communication information sciences and management.

The info-communication process conveys meaning through five units of cognition (Targowski 1990):

  • Datum (D): A measuring unit of cognition that describes transactions between natural, artificial, or other semantic systems. In business, data can measure performance characteristics of production, distribution, transportation, construction, or service. For example, the Dow Jones Stock Index (at the New York Stock Exchange) was 10,000 points on February 15, 2005.

  • Information (I): A comparative unit of cognition that defines a change between the previous and present state of natural, artificial, or semantic systems. Businesses often compare performance characteristics in two or more periods. For example, the Dow Jones Stock Index was 11,000 points high on February 14, 2005. The change from February 14 to 15 is -1,000 or 9% down.

  • Concept (C): A perceptive unit of cognition that generates thoughts or ideas that create our intuition and intention – a sense of direction. For example, due to the market’s strong change, should an investor sell, buy, or hold his/her stocks?

  • Knowledge (K): A reasoning unit of cognition that creates awareness based on scientific data (e.g.: Census Bureau research), rules, coherent inferences, laws, established patterns, and methods and their systems. Knowledge provides a point of reference, a standard for analyzing data, information and concepts. Knowledge can be categorized in four ways:

    • o

      ▪ Domain knowledge (Kd)

    • o

      ▪ Societal knowledge (Ks)

    • o

      ▪ Personal knowledge (Kp)

    • o

      ▪ Moral knowledge (Km)

      • Once again elaborating on the previous examples, an investor will apply his/her or an adviser’s financial knowledge (Kd) to find out which concept he/she should apply. He/she can also apply remaining kinds of knowledge to evaluate each concept option.

  • Wisdom (W): A pragmatic unit of cognition that generates volition – a chosen way of acting and communicating. Wisdom is a process of choosing among available concept options, based on knowledge, practice, morals, or intuition, or on all of them. Concluding our example, an investor will choose the hold concept option to wait and see the Federal Reserve’s decision on the interest rate.

The cognition units that compose the Cognition Reservoir can be structured from simplest to most complex in the Semantic Ladder, shown in Figure 2. Events occur at the existence level that are communicated as data and inserted into the Semantic Ladder of a person, discipline, or organization. These data are subsequently processed into information, and information is processed into concepts, which are later evaluated by available knowledge, before one of those concepts will be chosen by a decision-maker’s wisdom. Then, a frame consisting of a message and the decision-maker’s intentions (very often different than the message’s content) is returned as feedback to the level of existence.

Figure 2.



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