Descriptive knowledge

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Descriptive knowledge, also declarative knowledge, propositional knowledge, or constative knowledge,[1] is the type of knowledge that is, by its very nature, expressed in declarative sentences or indicative propositions.[2] This distinguishes descriptive knowledge from what is commonly known as "knowing-how", or procedural knowledge (the knowledge of how, and especially how best, to perform some task),[3] and "knowing of", or knowledge by acquaintance (the non-propositional knowledge of something through direct awareness of it). Descriptive knowledge is also identified as "knowing-that"[4] or knowledge of fact, embodying concepts, principles, ideas, schemas, and theories.[5] The entire descriptive knowledge of an individual constitute his understanding of the world and more specifically how it or a part of it works.[5]

The distinction between knowing-how and knowing-that was introduced in epistemology by Gilbert Ryle.[6] For Ryle, the former differs in its emphasis and purpose since it is primarily practical knowledge whereas the latter focuses on indicative or explanatory knowledge.[7]


  1. ^ Sadegh-Zadeh, Kazem (2015). Handbook of Analytic Philosophy of Medicine, 2nd edition. Dordrecht: Springer. p. 470. ISBN 9789401795784.
  2. ^ Tokuhama-Espinosa, Tracey (2011). Mind, Brain, and Education Science: A Comprehensive Guide to the New Brain-Based Teaching. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 255. ISBN 9780393706079.
  3. ^ Marc Burgin, Theory of Knowledge: Structures and Processes, World Scientific, 2016, p. 48.
  4. ^ Mark, Burgin (2016). Theory Of Knowledge: Structures And Processes. Kackensack, NJ: World Scientific. p. 48. ISBN 9789814522670.
  5. ^ a b Holyoak, Keith; Morrison, Robert (2005). The Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 371. ISBN 0521824176.
  6. ^ Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson, "Knowing How", Journal of Philosophy, 98(8): 411–444, 2001.
  7. ^ D'Cruz, Heather; Jacobs, Struan; Schoo, Adrian (2016). Knowledge-in-Practice in the Caring Professions: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Oxon: Routledge. p. 19. ISBN 9780754672821.