Reasoning and analysis Reasoning and knowledge

What any one individual knows about the world is extremely limited. People tend to be experts in certain small areas and ignorant in many others; their detailed knowledge is often applicable only in limited situations. It could not be otherwise in modern society, considering the quantities of available information and consequent demands for specialisation. You do not need to be a walking storehouse of information about everything, since there are many places to look if you need to fill in gaps in your knowledge. Moreover, there are many well-established research techniques to generate new data. In such circumstances, the truly knowledgeable people are those who are aware of what they do not know and who have skills in searching. These skills do not just involve knowing where and how to look for information (for example, the ability to search the Internet for library holdings of a particular newspaper; technical skill in interviewing; the ability to perform an experiment). Much more importantly, searching skills involve an awareness of how the skills are related to the process of reasoning.

We often think that 'finding things out' precedes 'thinking about them'. In fact, just as writing and speaking (the narrative flow) are bound up with reasoning (analytical structuring), the process of gathering the information also involves many of the important 'thinking moves' that constitute our analysis. If we are unaware of these 'thinking moves', then much of our research will be ineffective or confusing. Reading, interviewing, experimenting, or any of the many research processes are not just about finding out information; they are necessarily processes of analysis.

Reasoning is not the result of knowing things: knowledge and reasoning are part and parcel of one another. Knowledge consists of both individual claims and the links between them, and hence must be expressed through arguments and explanations. We learn knowledge by understanding these arguments and explanations. Even the most specific statement of what we know (a single claim) requires

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