[Humanist] 27.733 digital knowledge

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Jan 25 10:15:04 CET 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 733.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:10:00 +0100
        From: "Dr. Hartmut Krech" <kr538 at zfn.uni-bremen.de>
        Subject: Re:  27.727 digital knowledge?
        In-Reply-To: <20140122065152.D2A6A6256 at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Willard,

Having suppressed a sort of giggling to myself and having corrected my
register error by looking up the pertinent definitions in the OED:

"4.A.4 Of, pertaining to, or using digits [digit n. 3]; spec. applied to a
computer which operates on data in the form of digits or similar discrete
elements (opp. analogue computer)."


"5. a.II.5.a The fact of knowing a thing, state, etc., or (in general sense)
a person; acquaintance; familiarity gained by experience."

I turned to the handy and perhaps still useful distinction between
knowledge, data, and information. The most pronounced definition of
knowledge was perhaps given by Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) in his
'Wissenschaftslehre' (science of sciences) in 1794: "§ 1. Das Wesen der
Wissenschaft bestände sonach, wie es scheint, in der Beschaffenheit ihres
Inhalts und dem Verhältnisse desselben zu dem Bewusstseyn desjenigen, von
welchem gesagt wird, dass er wisse [...]" (1798, 38) "As it seems, the
substance of knowledge would then consist in the character of its content
matter and the relationship of the same to the consciousness of whom it is
said that he knows [...]" (my attempt at translation). In short, knowledge
is conscience, that is to say, it is inseparable from a knower, a person who
knows or apprehends. Of course, here lies the difficulty when we try to
subsume 'digital knowledge' under a principle that has guided intellectual
reflexion for several centuries.

Developing his concept of knowledge further, Fichte posits: "Kein Satz ist
ohne Gehalt oder ohne Form möglich. Es muss etwas seyn, wovon man weiss,
und etwas, das man davon weiss." (1798, 48) "No proposition is possible
without its content matter and its form. There must be something that is
known by someone and something of which one knows." (again my translation)
Applied to the problem at hand, the definition of 'digital knowledge',
digital knowledge would be any knowledge that is known by an individual or a
group of people in 'digital' form. Such a definition, if accepted, implies
two preconditions: (1) the existence of any 'systems' of things that qualify
as things that can be known because of their systematicity (Fichte will call
it "das teilbare Nicht-Ich," the "divisible Non-Ego") and (2) a knowledge of
or proficiency in digital forms.

Hope that this will help to understand 'digital knowledge.'


Am 22.01.2014 07:51, schrieb Humanist Discussion Group:
>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 727.
>              Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>          Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 06:43:32 +0000
>          From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>          Subject: digital knowledge?
> This is not a psychoanalytic question, or even a psychological one,
> rather my attempt to dredge for emergent meanings: what comes to mind
> when you read the phrase "digital knowledge"? I'd be grateful for any
> sort of response, here on Humanist.
> Many thanks.
> Yours,
> WM

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