A colleague of mine wrote recently about the “myth of knowledge” in a nice blog post. Perhaps one of the most interesting and controversial (and most [overly] generalized) points was about Akido:
Because I am a behaviorist-leaning kind of guy, I would additionally point out that when behavior, talking, and thinking come into conflict, behavior wins. In my article trying to connect ecological and social psychology, I used an example out of Aikido, the martial art that prefers not to hurt people unnecessarily. Indulging in horrible generalizations: In the Western cultures – steeped in dualism and the myth of knowledge – we thinking that ‘knowing’ is about ‘thinking’, but in Eastern cultures this is not so. In Aikido, one of your goals is to blend with your opponent’s movements so you inflict minimal harm. Your goal is not to think about blending, not be able to explain how to blend, nor to be able to accurately imagine blending, rather your goal is to actually blend when the time comes. A person ‘knows’ how to blend when they do it without thinking, and regardless of whether they can teach how to blend or explain what they did after the fact. (By the way, that article is part of a 7 article discussion, including my latest addition now available online.)
One of the main points was the link between “knowing” and “doing” and from a behaviorist perspective in psychology, this is an interesting position to take on such matters. He provides a number of examples such as “how can a legless football coach know how to kick a football?”
Knowledge — beit tacit or explicit, fact-searching or its role in training scientists and engineers — plays a central role in SKAT and STS; however, I’m not entirely sure we’ve jumped on the behaviorist bandwagon just yet.
The ending question: what would STS look like without “knowledge” as a crutch during analysis?
The only problem is that Eric is right. Behaviorism is a legitimate approach and — in my personal and academic experience — seldom wrong when answering questions about what actually happens without demanding that one needs to know anything to do it (that the doing is what the knowing supposedly signifies) and recognizing that doing something without thinking about it just might) indicate an even deeper understanding than what "knowledge" supposedly captures (in the foreground or background). .Now, how does one reconcile the "sociology of knowledge" without knowledge? This seems like a serious question. Eric’s answer that "experimental archaeology" might work, and in fact, I wonder if some of those older studies of laboratories — reinterpreted as behavioristic and challenging any insight based on knowledge not verified by documented behavior — might lead to new insights in the sociology of knowledge (seems like Andy Abbott’s idea about fractals in higher ed scholarship…). Could work???