The Hierarchy of Knowledge or DIKW Pyramid is a class of models for representing structural or functional relationships between Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom – hence, DIKW.
Numerous individuals may have invented it – economists, educators, engineers, geographers, ethicists, theorists, and researchers . . . from America, Ireland, China, Czechoslovakia, and England.
But the earliest reference to such a hierarchy can be found in T. S. Elliot’s 1934 play The Rock, which contains the chorus:
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
A fundamental premise of the Hierarchy of Knowledge is that:
information is defined in terms of data,knowledge [is defined] in terms of information,and wisdom [is defined] in terms of knowledge.
Trying to break this down into verbs – action words – a potential list might be: measure, analyze, classify, understand.
In other words, knowing about someone is not the same as knowing someone . . . and knowing someone is not the same as being in relationship with someone . . . and being in relationship with someone does not always rise to the level of loving someone.
Today is the Sunday on which we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord – when 40 days after Easter, Jesus “was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God” as we heard in St. Mark’s Gospel.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of the faith of the early Christians. And, perhaps we might consider how fortunate they were to have lived in a time so close to Jesus’ resurrection, seeing the lively power of the Holy Spirit, and living each day with an eager anticipation of the coming of the Kingdom on Jesus’ imminent return.
2,000 years seems like a long, long time, and perhaps we may not have the same level of hope as those first Christians did.
Yet, St. Paul speaks of hope in his Letter to the Ephesians, calling us to move beyond merely knowing God to living in the Power of God.
Because, for a Christian, knowing God is salvation . . . while growing in our relationship with God is sanctification . . . and ultimately – in eternal glory – we will have perfect knowledge of God, when we see Him face-to-face.
St. Paul points out that in knowing that “hope that belongs to [God’s] call . . . the riches of glory in [God’s] inheritance [is] among [His saints] . . . [in] the surpassing greatness of [God’s] power”
Our life in Christ is not only knowing about Jesus but requires that we live in imitation of Him in the here and now. Yet going beyond that, it is ultimately found in the life to come – the future glory of with God in Christ – in eternity.
That is, more than just be-ing, Christians are called to a life of be-come-ing . . . living not only in a present-tense, but in a future-tense . . . in anticipation of God’s call. This is hope!
St. Paul tells us elsewhere in Scripture:
. . . hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
we wait for it with [patient] endurance.
Next week is Pentecost. And the tradition tells us that the Apostles and disciples prayed for 9 days – the first Novena – from the Thursday of the Ascension until Pentecost Sunday. They prayed in hope for the coming of the Holy Spirit . . . that “surpassing greatness of [God’s] power” in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – let us pray for a deeper outpouring of the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. May we who know Christ in the Eucharist come to know, even more, the “surpassing greatness” of power of His Holy Spirit in our daily lives.