head>::brain of D::: knowing that; knowing how

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16 March 2005

  knowing that; knowing how

I've just understood recently how to explain the differences between Knowing That and Knowing How...:)

Thanks to this book titled "Batas Nalar" a translation of a book by Donald Calne titled Within Reason. While from Google I could not find an information about the success of this book both comercially and academically, but in Indonesia, its publisher had made this book quite popular by conducting a seminar that presenting many well-known people as the speakers. I put my review of the book here (in Bahasa Indonesia).

Anyway, when I was studying in mechanical engineering in ITB several years ago...we have been jokingly insulting each other, just like normal undergrad students, about our inability to repair car's machine even when the students have their own cars (which were very rare at that time). In Indonesia, mechanical engineering is more known as "machine engineering"; it is typically known that a machine engineering student must be able to repair any machine. And because many of us the future "machine engineers" did not know how to repair a machine, we have a famous term for us in Bahasa Indonesia which we called: "sastra mesin". I don't know how to translate this because I am afraid I will eliminate the irony if I translate the term :)

Just take myself as an example. I know and understand the concept behind a car's machine; I know the concept of combustion engine, I know what parts are there in a car's machine. This is what Gilbert Ryle called as Knowing That. But if you ask me, can I tune up or repair that machine? My answer is...NO. With capital letters. I wish I could, but I have not been able to do it despite I have a quite experiences to touch machine in lab when watching my friend did his thesis. In short, I don't have (or have not had YET) the ability of Knowing How.

I think Knowing That and Knowing How are both equally important. Very rare people have the ability to have both of them; and for they who have them both we will call them masters or guru.

And there is also a more funny thing.... as we all know that most successful businessmen are not highly educated, the richest man (and his friends in 10 richest people) most of them are dropped out from school. But we have this title called MBA which should be a master in business; but do they know how to run a businesss? Well, most of MBAs work for consulting firms or other corporations, which might make us draw a conclusion that most of them know that running business or make a strategic decision or develop a business plan is like this like that bla bla bla...but when come to how to do it in real life, MBAs will prefer to be consultants or just employees. There is no sour apple here, I am an MBA too...;) and this is more a reflection rather than an insult, buddies. Beside, I have heard so many times many people said MBA stands for Master of Barely Anything, so this should make all business students work harder and try to harness all the concepts with more applications. Does it mean you MBA should reduce the allocation time for happy hours? Hell, NO! hahaha...:) *that is the best part, right?*

So, I think many of us may acknowledge that Knowing That does not necessary we "know" how to do that. Knowing notes and guitar does not make us know how to play it. It needs another set of skill to make us really can play it!

Inilah bedanya komentator dan praktisi; paling top emang praktisi yang juga ngerti konsep..hahaha susah kalo di bahasa inggrisin :)

I read recently that Sri Mulyani, one of our minister, confessed how hard to do the job that previously she criticized when she was an economic commentator. Many leaders in Indonesia, most of them are bright scholars, have proven failed in the field which they should be mastered. We have so many economic experts/professors, political experts/professors, law experts, and others but when we gave them chances to hold the high level position in their expertise, only few of them were successful.

Does this picture show us that Indonesia has too many experts that only Knowing That without Knowing How? 

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