Quora answer: What is the flow of knowledge?

May 22 2014

Key point is that this “flow” occurs in the face of discontinuous emergent change. Thus if you read philosophy of science you see that the scientific discovery and then subsequent use of ideas is very complicated, and we really do not yet understand it. But just like we found with evolution, it is punctuated, there are discontinuities in its development. These discontinuities were called by G.H. Mead Emergent Events. See his Philosophy of the Future. I did my first Ph.D. in England on this which was called The Structure of Theoretical Systems in relation to Emergence. There are different scopes of intelligibility like fact, theory, paradigm, episteme, ontos, existence, absolute. Emergent events, like black swans, occur at any of these levels at any time. These emergent events are disruptive. For instance mobile phones, or the world wide web, they actually change the way we do things and thus cause real changes in our world that are disruptive. Flow only occurs in what Kuhn called normal science. Revolutionary science, i.e. science based on an emergent event either coming from inside or outside does not flow, but produces disruption in flow of ideas from normal science into engineering and production of products. Rather old ways of doing things are persuaded all of a sudden and new ways of doing things take over quickly and organizations perish like Kodak, and others become seemingly over night behemoths like Google,  Microsoft, & Apple. We are living in a time when we are getting multiple disruptive emergent events occurring at the same time. Things like smart phones come out and change the nature of everything we do and we are trying to catch up to the possibilities that are opened up.

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