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Remarks on explicit knowledge and expertise acquisition

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  1. The reason for this approach is that, ‘To be treated as an economic good, knowledge must be put in a format that allows it to circulate and be exchanged. The main transformation investigated by economists is [then] the transformation of knowledge into information, i.e. the codification of knowledge’ (Ancori et al. 2000, p. 255). However, this approach does not explain the (social) nature of knowledge and what happens during such ‘transformations’ (see below).

  2. See, for instance, Wisner (1984) and Ribeiro (1988, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007a, b, c, 2012a, b).

  3. Thus, it would be impossible to infer the purpose of some ancient artifacts or scripts if there were absolutely no ‘family resemblance’ between current and ancient human needs and practices. As Wittgenstein teaches us ‘[t]here is always the danger of wanting to find an expression’s meaning by contemplating the expression itself … instead of always thinking of the practice’ (Wittgenstein 2006 [1969], p. 79e). This is why it is possible that different marks on a paper may have the same meaning in distinct natural languages (e.g., ‘good morning’ and ‘bom dia’); here, the meaning dwells not in the mark itself, but in how it is used.

  4. As Collins (1990, p.21) explains, ‘the worlds of logic, mathematics and science are as much human constructs and products of social interaction as natural language. Starting with the same Wittgensteinian ideas one must be more philosophically radical … there is only one kind of stuff in the world’.

  5. These are when tacit knowledge is explicable by ‘elaboration’ (e.g., when a longer and more complete clarification enables a person to understand something he/she did not understand before), by ‘transformation’ (e.g., when the use of glasses enables one to read what was not readable before), by ‘mechanization’ (e.g., when something done manually is automated) and by ‘explanation’ (e.g., when researchers come up with scientific explanations about some natural phenomenon) (Collins 2010, p. 81).

  6. Collins is also correct to maintain that the tri-partite division of tacit knowledge (Ribeiro 2007a) comes from the analysis and synthesis of his previous works on the subject and I am indebted to him for changing the term ‘transient’ to ‘contingent’ tacit knowledge (see footnote 11, Ribeiro 2012a). Nevertheless, the change of terms does not imply a change in the meaning. The definition of ‘transient tacit knowledge’ was maintained for ‘contingent tacit knowledge’ as a type of knowledge that is tacit ‘due to the historical development of the technical domain or matters of contingency’ (Ribeiro 2007a, p. 72; Ribeiro 2012a, p. 7). (The page numbers of Ribeiro (2012a; b) refer to the actual page of the PDF version of the papers).


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Ribeiro, R. Remarks on explicit knowledge and expertise acquisition. Phenom Cogn Sci 12, 431–435 (2013).

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  • Explicit knowledge
  • Reified knowledge
  • Knowledge conversion
  • Knowledge reification
  • Expertise acquisition