My Epitaph

If you don't question everything, you will know nothing and believe anything!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Pool of Knowledge: Metaphors of Intelligence

The Pool of Knowledge:  Metaphors of Intelligence

intelligence, metaphor, pool of knowledge,

In the search for quenching  life-sustaining water, a well is dug.  Once water is, hit, rarely does anyone dig deeper until the well runs dry.  There are generally three groupings of people in a hierarchy of retrieving water.  There are those that find where to dig, and then the ones that will be doing the digging.   The third category would be those bearing the burden of retrieving the water for their private use.  Who has the greatest relationship with the water?  Is it the child bearing a burden for mothers to cook the master of being able to procure a new source if the well runs dry?  Is the brute strength used to dig the well able to procure a new source of water when the well runs dry?  If all that need to be done is to dig a few more feet down to hit the water table again, then they would have the ability to continue to have water.  However, the one that knows how to find water rarely needs to dig, nor carry water because they can easily find others to do that work for water.

Each ‘school’ of thought of modern academic specialization is an individual well, tapping into the same body of knowledge, stopping as soon as they hit water.  Those that teach children are those burdened with bringing water home from the wells.  The metaphor of the knowledge acquired by the bachelor degree would be those carrying the water of knowledge to the masses: to those only graduating high school, or lower.  The master’s degree would be the well diggers, they can dig deeper in preexisting knowledge, but rare among them will be able to discover where to dig, they just know how to dig, and dig deeper.  The doctoral degrees would be those whose ability is to find where to dig the wells in the first place.

There is only one body of water, only one fresh-water, underground fountain of knowledge from which all the wells of individual areas of study where one can earn a doctorate degree.  Those that have already learned the amount of information known about any one topic to be equated with the doctoral degree have grown from those that drank without work before being the age to retrieve water from the well, which is still too young to have the effective strength to dig the well.  After digging their own way to drink from the depths of this pool of knowledge itself, instead of several times removed, for years and years, they will begin to learn how discover where the next well should be dug.  

There are two ways to dig, to reach precious resources.  One would be the above discussed well.  That is an effectively adequate way at reaching the pool of wisdom, but let’s morph the metaphor.  Do extract the most of something precious that remains underground, drilling holes and boring for what you seek is highly inefficient.  Yes, it will allow you to get deeper, to find what the resource sought, but few drill deeper than they have to until they have to drill deeper.  Although it seemingly requires far more effort, the other method would be strip mining - slowing digging the entire breadth of the streams of gold and other precious metals that can be bored out by a drill, if one could only locate exactly where to drill into the mother lode vein.  Strip mining the entire minefield requires so much more effort than drilling, but, unless one has perfected knowing how to hit the mother load with each well dug, or hole bored, strip mining is the surest way to get everything sought in the earth being mined, and it is the surest way of all to insure you, after much effort, attain the final depths possible in all the precious resources sought.

Morph the metaphor back.  When one spends their entire lives only drawing from their home well, they have no idea of the breadth and depth of what remains to sustain.  Even the PhDs usually remain limited to their speciality, they may dig deeper the rest of their lives, but rarely does one find one even venturing to another well already dug and drawing from it.  If they do venture to another well, it generally is not very far from their home fount.  Not only can one that knows how to dig, and dig deeper, eventually learn how to possibly find where to dig a well, there remains another path to the knowledge of how to find water.  Instead of investing the effort into learning how to dig a well, after one’s time of carrying water from one well, they can choose keep moving on, carrying water from every well they encounter, drinking in the equivalent of either the high school level of bachelor level of either drinking without carrying water, or carrying the water.  Just drinking from every other well to the same pool of knowledge can allow one to discover how to find water.  With the greater samples of all the wells comes the ability to penetrate greater depths just as the water table is different at every well, some of the water they will have encountered will be of the deepest part that well will ever be before going dry, some will be freshly dug wells.  Just as the depth of any one ‘drilling’ gets deeper over time, knowledge on any one subject grows over time.  Sometimes, in digging a deeper well, the angle at the bottom must be changed to hit water because the original line has it a dead end.  The same can be claimed concerning the evolution of information by subject matter.  Many dead ends have been reached, yet much of the structure of the well remains valid to still drink from the same pool.

So, then, the question remains one only you can answer for yourself,  at the end of your life, do you want to even know how to retrieve from the well of knowledge?  If so, will you learn to dig a well, and how to dig deeper, or at a slightly different angle?  If you chose to know that much about finding water, will you spend the time following the person that knows how to find water and keep drilling them wells until you learn how to find water yourself.  Will you only drink from a few wells, or will your thirst take you to every well from which you can drink, taking in the variety of depths available in the pool of knowledge?  The vast majority will chose to have others bear the water to them.  More people will carry the water than will dig for it, and the fewest of all will be those that know how to find water.  The fewest of those knowing how to find water will be the ones that long ago left behind their first tasting of water, especially if they had already learned how to carry from that well of a specified field, the limited tasting of the true depths of the pool of knowledge available, for adventures far and wide, drinking from every well drawing from the same pool of knowledge, whether they stick around long enough to carry their water, or just drink what was carried for them.
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