The understanding of any subject requires some sort of epistemological foundation. The better we understand epistemology the deeper we can comprehend our knowledge.

the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity.

The creator of The Free Market Center espouses the following epistemological systems principles.

For more information see Wikipedia: Epistemology.

Approximate Knowledge

The knowledge of reality is based on uncertainty, approximation, and probability.

It is recognized that all concepts, theories, and findings are limited, uncertain, and approximate. To a large degree science, including the social sciences, is the study of probabilities. Knowledge can never represent any complete and definitive understanding of reality. The best we can do is strive for the best current approximation in our descriptions of reality. In this sense knowledgeable people do not deal with truth.

Because of the infinite complexity of systems and the network nature of knowledge we must accept that our knowledge of reality can only be uncertain, approximate, and subject to probability. In addition, there is no exact correlation between the description and the described phenomena.

Epistemic Processes

Knowledge is the consequence of epistemic* processes. Knowledge emerges from prior knowledge.

Epistemology must be included in the description of any phenomena in human systems, as it is in nature. Epistemology, the understanding of how and why knowledge is acquired, effects the observations which we make, therefore, it cannot be excluded from an accurate description of the observation, no matter how precise the measurement used.

Science has revealed that our knowledge is not simply the result of objective observation. Observation of various behaviors of organizations is really a mental construct of what is already known about those systems. We literally cannot separate what we know and why we know it from what we observe. The observer and the observed are merged, and "objectivity" is determined by epistemology. In order to accurately describe the behavior of a human system we must include all the assumptions, presuppositions, and beliefs which were held by the observer(s).



ep·i·ste·mic (èp´î-stê mîk) adjective Of, relating to, or involving knowledge; cognitive. [From Greek epistêmê, knowledge.]

Knowledge Network

Knowledge evolves as an interconnected network. Simple and complex knowledge are equally intertwined.

We are finally moving away from the belief in hierarchical knowledge toward the understanding of distributed knowledge. There are neither hierarchies nor foundations in this network of knowledge. Our descriptions of what we perceive as reality also form an interconnected network of symbols representing the observed phenomena. There is complexity in knowledge, for there is diversity and unity in all understanding.

The concept of hierarchical knowledge is being replaced by the understanding that knowledge is based on interdependent connections of information. It is through making connections that information is transformed into knowledge.

Leaps in Knowledge

Changes in fundamental knowledge tend to occur in "quantum leaps" in which old knowledge expires and is simultaneously replaced by new knowledge.

Discreteness has an epistemological counterpart.

Organizations cannot operate with two sets of fundamental assumptions at the same time. The earth cannot be the center of the universe and not at the same time.

There is no gradual shift from one set of fundamental assumptions to the other. Old guiding ideas are replaced with new ones instantly. Such "Copernican shifts" are likely to come more frequently in the future.

Natural Learning

Knowledge is a part of the systemic structure of a complex adaptive system. It is a natural, spontaneous, manifestation of the self-referencing, self-organizing, and adaptive process.

It is now understood that knowledge is part of the structure of a complex system, whether defined in terms of brain or mind. This means that learning occurs only if the behavior of the system is influenced by the learning - i.e. when a human actually learns, patterns of behavior will change. It also implies that knowledge is not transferred from one system to another, rather it is recreated in the second system.

Knowledge is acquired (or recreated), or learning happens, as a natural, spontaneous, manifestation of the self-referencing, self-organizing, and adaptive process. There are two facts which are implicit in this postulate. First, learning is the result of the system changing to accommodate its environment rather than of the environment acting on the system. And second, learning is in essence involuntary. Learning is therefore more analogous to breathing than it is to either eating or reproduction.

This does not mean that learning cannot be improved. Just as breathing can be improved by changing the structure within which it occurs (e.g. building lung capacity through exercise) learning can be improved through exercise of the mind or providing a richer more complex environment.