ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Three Types of Knowledge

Updated on March 15, 2013
Tusitala Tom at sixty
Tusitala Tom at sixty

There is only one which we regard as infallible truth

Back in 1986 I heard a story that really registered with me. It was a simple enough story. It told of the different types of knowledge we all have and how these can be divided into three distinct areas of influence as far as our lives are concerned. The story goes like this:

“There was a man who had a good and trusted friend. The friend told the man that he knew of an excellent place to eat, a fine restaurant where the food was always good.

“The man believed his friend and went along to the restaurant (this is knowledge based on faith. In this case, the faith he had in his friend’s words)

Observation is knowledge based on study

“But the man did not go inside immediately. He looked through the open doorway and he observed that those inside certainly seemed to be enjoying their meals. He could see them smiling and laughing as they spoke to their friends. He could see the scrumptious looking meals being brought out and served. What he saw he liked (this is knowledge based on study or observation)

“Then the man went inside, sat down and ordered a meal. The meal arrived and he started to eat it (now he knew. This is knowledge based on experience. The meal might have been wonderful: or it might have been awful! Whatever it was, he did not know for certain until he had tasted it.

Just to give you an idea how big Australia is
Just to give you an idea how big Australia is

'Knowing' is knowledge based on experience

Experience is the only true knowledge. Moreover, if we are to choose between knowledge we’re expected to take based on faith, and that based in experience, experience wins hands down. If it doesn’t, we are in for an awful lot of angst. Moreover, it the knowledge we have gained by study and observation does not tally with our actual experience, the same applies.

We might set about our lives with good intentions based on faith in what we’ve been taught by others, be it by books or by others’ observations of events, but if it does not jell with our own experiences, the philosophies propounded by our erstwhile teachers will not prevail. We will go our own way. Or if we don’t we’ll suffer for it. So experience is essential, especially in those matters which have such an impact on how we think and behave. This is why the adage, “Know thyself,” is so important in our lives. What am I? Who am I? so, so, important.

Even our own observations can lead us astray if we're not careful

Of course, we can gain an enormous amount of really good, useful knowledge by our own studies and observations. We can be introduced to all manner of great ideas by believing the hypotheses or theories of those who we regard as honourable people of good intent. But they can be wrong. And even our own observations can lead us astray once we pick up on an idea or concept which appeals to us. This is because we tend to strengthen these ideas with our ever-increasing bias towards what we regard as our own knowledge, our own truth.

Abraham Maslow's Pyramids of Needs.  What is not shown is the one above self actualizaiton: Self Realization.
Abraham Maslow's Pyramids of Needs. What is not shown is the one above self actualizaiton: Self Realization.

You will know by your own experience what is true and what is not

And so, dear, reader, knowing what we are, and who we are – and differentiating these from what we believe we are, or are inclined to believe through our studies, is so very important to us. For without that knowledge we will be forever searching, forever unsatisfied. We can do what most do, of course, spend our lives in escapism: daydreaming, games, reading for entertainment, films, television, and sport. Nothing wrong with any of these. But if they are the be all and end all – our goals - then we reach the end of our lives little wiser than we were when we were young.

So find The Way. “Seek and you will find,”it is said. And once the way is found and you are established in it, you will know by your own experience what is true and what is not.


Submit a Comment

  • Davesworld profile image


    6 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

    Unfortunately no one can learn everything about everything any more - there is simply too much to learn. Therefore we are forced to accept things, in your styling, on faith. However, one should not do so blindly. It is one thing to accept the word of authority on the workings of biochemistry or quantum mechanics, and something else when relying on supposed authority about the upcoming polar shift.

  • dmop profile image


    6 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

    You make a good argument, sometimes I may read too much into what I have read and been told, but I do most always attempt to logically calculate the accuracy of information I take in, based on what I know from experience. Voted up and interesting.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)