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#23851 - 10/15/07 10:14 AM I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff

I claim that comprehending is a hierarchy and can usefully be thought of as a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is awareness that is followed by consciousness, which is awareness plus attention. Knowing follows consciousness and understanding is at the pinnacle of the pyramid.

Two aspects of this comprehension idea deserve elaboration: consciousness and understanding.

When I was a youngster, probably seven or eight, my father took me with him when he drove to a local farm to pick corn for use in the café the family managed. We drove for a significant amount of time down local dirt roads to a farm with a field of growing corn.

We went into the fields with our bushel baskets and filled them with corn-on-the-cob. Dad showed me how to choose the corn to pick and how to snatch the cob from the stalk.

On the drive home I was amazed to observe the numerous fields of corn we passed on the way back to town. I can distinctly remember thinking to myself, why did I not see these fields of corn while we were driving to the farm earlier?

Today I have an answer to that question. I now say that on the way to the farm I was aware of corn-on-the-cob but on the way back home I was conscious of corn-on-the-cob. There was a very significant difference in my perceptions regarding corn-on-the-cob before and after the experience.

We are aware of many things but conscious of only a small number of things. We were aware of Iraq before the war but now we are conscious of Iraq. There is a very important distinction between awareness and consciousness and it is important for us to recognize this difference.

To be conscious of a matter signifies a focus of the intellect. Consciousness of a matter is the first step, which may lead to an understanding of the matter. Consciousness of a matter is a necessary condition for knowing and for understanding of that matter. Consciousness is a necessary but not sufficient condition for knowing and understanding to take place.

When discussing a topic about which I am knowledgeable most people will, because they recognize the words I am using, treat the matter as old stuff. They recognize the words therefore they consider the matter as something they already know and do not consider as important. Because they are aware of the subject it is difficult to gain their attention when I attempt to go beyond the shallowness of their perception. The communication problem seems to be initially overcoming their awareness and reaching consciousness.

Understanding is a long step beyond knowing. Understanding is the creation of meaning. Understanding represents a rare instance when intellection and emotion join hands and places me in an empathetic position with a domain of knowledge. When I understand I have connected the dots and have created a unity that includes myself. I have created something that is meaningful, which means that I have placed that domain of knowledge within my domain that I call my self. I understand because I have a very intimate connection with a model of reality that I have created. It is that eureka moment that happens rarely but is a moment of ecstasy. As Carl Sagan says “understanding is a kind of ecstasy”.

When I read I almost always read non fiction. I have tried to read fiction and to learn from reading what is considered to be good literature. However, my effort to read good literature fails because I thing that learning by reading good literature is a very inefficient means for gaining knowledge and understanding.

I claim that I can acquire more knowledge in one hour by reading non fiction than I can while reading good literature for ten hours. That is, I claim that learning by reading non fiction is ten times more efficient than learning by reading fiction, i.e. good literature.

Do you agree that acquiring knowledge by reading non fiction is ten times as efficient as from reading fiction?


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#24050 - 10/25/07 11:50 AM Re: I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff [Re: coberst]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Good non-fiction books

The following is a quickie from Wickie regarding some of the best in non-fiction reading.

These books listed below are some selections from "Modern Library 100 best non-fiction" from Wickie.

An American Dilemma
The American Language
The Ants
The Art of Memory
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
The Civil War: A Narrative
The Double Helix
The Education of Henry Adams
The Elements of Style
Eminent Victorians
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
The Golden Bough
Good-Bye to All That
The Guns of August
Homage to Catalonia
In Cold Blood (book)
Mark Twain's Autobiography
The Mismeasure of Man
Notes of a Native Son
The Open Society and Its Enemies
Principia Mathematica
The Right Stuff
The Rise of the West
A Room of One's Own
Silent Spring
The Strange Death of Liberal England
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
A Study of History
A Theory of Justice
Up From Slavery
The Varieties of Religious Experience


Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Modern_Library_100_best_non-fiction"
Category: Non-fiction books

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#24180 - 11/06/07 06:02 AM Re: I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff [Re: coberst]
MikeBinOK Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/07
Posts: 67
Loc: Oklahoma
Originally Posted By: coberst
I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff

(stuff edited out)

Do you agree that acquiring knowledge by reading non fiction is ten times as efficient as from reading fiction?[/b]


Depends on what you want to learn about....Much "classic" fiction, and some more mundane fiction gives considerable insights into the problems humans all face, and into how we react to them, or deal with conflict or challenge. Learning this can be useful both in understanding what is going on in the world, and in actually living life. Many of us who are "geeks" (I'm using that word to mean a lover of knowledge, and I don't consider it an insult) have trouble relating to other people or understanding their motivations, so these insights can be especially valuable to us.

My two cents, anyway. Most of my reading is nonfiction, but I also read a regrettable amount of things like detective stories, which are entertaining, but don't make me grow much as a person in either of the ways nonfiction or classic fiction do.
_________________________
Mike B in OKlahoma

"Never confuse with malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."


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#24181 - 11/06/07 06:03 AM Re: I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff [Re: coberst]
MikeBinOK Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/07
Posts: 67
Loc: Oklahoma
Originally Posted By: coberst
Good non-fiction books

The following is a quickie from Wickie regarding some of the best in non-fiction reading.

These books listed below are some selections from "Modern Library 100 best non-fiction" from Wickie.

An American Dilemma
The American Language
The Ants
The Art of Memory
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
The Civil War: A Narrative
The Double Helix
The Education of Henry Adams
The Elements of Style
Eminent Victorians
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
The Golden Bough
Good-Bye to All That
The Guns of August
Homage to Catalonia
In Cold Blood (book)
Mark Twain's Autobiography
The Mismeasure of Man
Notes of a Native Son
The Open Society and Its Enemies
Principia Mathematica
The Right Stuff
The Rise of the West
A Room of One's Own
Silent Spring
The Strange Death of Liberal England
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
A Study of History
A Theory of Justice
Up From Slavery
The Varieties of Religious Experience


Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Modern_Library_100_best_non-fiction"
Category: Non-fiction books


Tsk, I should get busy! I've only read four of those! I'd include Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, though.
_________________________
Mike B in OKlahoma

"Never confuse with malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."


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#24183 - 11/06/07 11:04 AM Re: I have a strong desire to comprehend stuff [Re: MikeBinOK]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Mike

One of the most important reasons that I pick non-fiction is because I can control non-fiction learning. I generally seek knowledge by first developing a question then determining who might be the best mind for answering that question. With learning from fiction we are dealing with random learning. Self-actualizing becomes much more problematic when learning is random.

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