Understanding

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This article is about the psychological process. For other uses, see Understanding (disambiguation).
"Understand" redirects here. For other uses, see Understand (disambiguation).

Understanding (also called intellection) is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object. Understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding. Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge sufficient to support intelligent behavior.[1]

An understanding is the limit of a conceptualization. To understand something is to have conceptualized it to a given measure.

Examples[edit]

  1. One understands the weather if one is able to predict (e.g. if it is very cloudy, it may rain) and/or give an explanation of some of its features, etc.
  2. A psychiatrist understands another person's anxieties if he/she knows that person's anxieties, their causes, and can give useful advice on how to cope with the anxiety.
  3. A person understands a command if he/she knows who gave it, what is expected by the issuer, and whether the command is legitimate, and whether one understands the speaker (see 4).
  4. One understands a reasoning, an argument, or a language if one can consciously reproduce the information content conveyed by the message.
  5. One understands a mathematical concept if one can solve problems using it, especially problems that are not similar to what one has seen before.

Understanding as a model[edit]

Gregory Chaitin, a noted computer scientist, propounds a view that comprehension is a kind of data compression.[2] In his essay "The Limits of Reason", he argues that understanding something means being able to figure out a simple set of rules that explains it. For example, we understand why day and night exist because we have a simple model—the rotation of the earth—that explains a tremendous amount of data—changes in brightness, temperature, and atmospheric composition of the earth. We have compressed a large amount of information by using a simple model that predicts it. Similarly, we understand the number 0.33333... by thinking of it as one-third. The first way of representing the number requires an infinite amount of memory; but the second way can produce all the data of the first representation, but uses much less information. Chaitin argues that comprehension is this ability to compress data.

Components[edit]

Cognition and affect[edit]

Main articles: cognition and affect (psychology)

Cognition is the process by which sensory inputs are transformed. Affect refers to the experience of feelings or emotions. Cognition and affect constitute understanding.

Religious perspectives[edit]

In Catholicism and Anglicanism, understanding is one of the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]