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How Understanding Can be Defined

Understanding is a mental process like any other cognitive ability we have. It requires first acknowledging the object, processing its details, and then analyzing those details to expand our acknowledgement to a state where optimal, if not complete, understanding is reached. The more complex the object is, the more mental effort and energy we will need to understand it as best as we are capable.

Any understanding, as mentioned, first requires some degree of acknowledgement of the object at hand. Without any acknowledgement whatsoever, understanding cannot technically begin. Even if, for example, you do not recognize a country you do not believe has the right to exist, you still acknowledge it by calling it by name. Acknowledgement therefore does not have to be only on a realistic level, as we are able to acknowledge objects as existent even if we think they are mere illusions or works of fiction. Deny something as existant, and you will not be able to acknolwedge it, and thus, fail to understand it.

Encourage yourself to respect what you do not understand. Keeping an open mind is key to understanding something, no matter how much you disagree with it.

After acknowledgement is reached, that the object at hand exists as either reality or illusion, we must process the information it contains. Processing data is the allows us to understand its importance, store it in our memory, and apply it whenever necessary.

An application of information in a way that matches our plans, can be seen an an expression of wisdom. Acknowledging the existence of a book, for example, does not make us understand its content instantly. Therefore we must read the book, or process any other information about it, similarly to a computer, in order to better know it as more than just a perceived object.

The search for information about it is called research. Information that is found from research is called a finding. Information processing allows us to better understand the very thing we acknowledged

Likewise, without analyzing what we have read, we cannot, theoretically, reach a state of understanding, as understanding requires a conclusion to be reached. And in order to reach a conclusion, whether it is true or not, we must analyze the received information. A piece of knowledge that comes from understanding is called an insight.

Analysis does not have to be complex. This short video on "The Empire Strikes Back" is an example for a short analysis. The complexity of an analysis is often dependent on the complexity of the object itself, or of the specific component/s being analyzed.

There are many times when it can be superficial and/or quick. For example, if I find that I have traffic on my site, I don't have to do a lot of thinking in order to reach a conclusion about the nature of the traffic, AKA, its sources, its average duration, its specific locations within the website and so on. It is more philosophical and/or academic issues and subjects that require further, more complex verbal analysis.

Other than that, analysis is a more-careful examination of a piece of information, made as an operation to get a finer understanding of it. Students and apprentices may be required to examine whatever they're studying in order to, well, study it better. Not just process the subject at hand, just so they will write it down on an exam and forget it afterwards.

Things are understood, therefore, by three levels:

* Acknowledgement,

* Processing,

* Analysis.

It is important to note that understanding does not have to be correct, or at least completely correct, in order to be achieved. Much of our understanding is up for interpretation, if not widely disagreed upon, because understanding largely depends on the conclusion we reach, and that conclusion can be subjective. An incorrect understanding of something or someone is an inaccurate one. The more illogical we are, the harder it will be for us to understand reality correctly, AKA, with fine accuracy.

True knowledge, however, is objective and is not relative to the three levels that are required for the achievement of understanding. Even though understanding is possible for true knowledge as well, assuming that said knowledge is indeed true and not false or deceptive. "True knowledge" is pure of subjective bias, is about the world beyond the mind, and as such it is quite difficult to reach it and that's an understatement.

In other words, understanding can be correct or incorrect, and our own degree of understanding of something does not guarantee true knowledge, even though true knowledge indeed requires understanding. It is a one-sided connection—"A" necessarily requires "B," but "B" does not always lead to "A." For example, I can understand that atheism is a religion, but that does not mean that atheism is indeed a religion, just because I understand it as such.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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