Knowledge is an important intellectual good and can be a key to opening doors. Acquiring knowledge continuously throughout one’s life, or life-long learning, has become a crucial requirement for people in all areas of business.Knowledge is not a homogenous concept; it comprises several subcategories and can be divided according to how it is acquired. Certain types of knowledge can be distinguished: general knowledge vs. specialist knowledge, a priori vs. empirical knowledge, inferential knowledge vs. factual knowledge, situated knowledge, partial knowledge, scientific knowledge and so forth. It also needs to be highlighted that gaining knowledge does not necessarily mean learning previously unknown things. Very often, knowledge is a combination or extension of what we already know, and it is especially important to establish links between the chunks of knowledge stored in our brains in order to regain access to the information at a later period in time.
The first two major classes of knowledge are general knowledge and specialist knowledge. General knowledge is sometimes also referred to as school knowledge or as common sense and is therefore knowledge that every person possesses to a certain extent. Specialist knowledge, on the other hand, is a type of knowledge that only few people possess, and which is characterized by an understanding of a highly complex field of expertise. People who have specialist knowledge in a certain field are generally called specialists. An example for general knowledge would be knowing who is president of your country at the moment, while an example for specialist knowledge would be knowing how to create a titanium alloy.
The second distinction we can make when we talk about the concept of knowledge is a priori knowledge in contrast to empirical knowledge. While a priori knowledge, a priori meaning “before” in Latin, is a deductive type of knowledge that can be gained without observing or experimenting with the outside world, empirical knowledge or a posteriori knowledge, Latin for “after”, can only be acquired after observation or interaction with the outside world. An example of a priori knowledge would be learning foreign language vocabulary from a book, while a posteriori knowledge would be knowledge gained from experiments or surveys.