When we say that we understand something we are essentially saying that we have processed the information that was given. Since the word understanding usually refers to the comprehension of a certain subject area, task, or principle that is taught by someone else. To understand is not just to hear and listen, it is to take in the information, to process it, to see the value of that information and how it can help with what ever we may need at that time or in the future. To understand stand something however, does not mean to choose to believe in it or choose a right or wrong. Once we understand something we make opinions based off of our understanding. In all arguments opinions are based off of knowledge that an individual may have of a certain topic. This knowledge can vary based on the person who wields it, thus we call it that person's understanding for he may take the same knowledge as someone else and have completely different opinion just by the way he understood, or how he processed that knowledge and information. To understand reflects that no matter what your opinion is on the topic you could argue either side if no outside factors affected your judgement. Outside factors are impossible to remove however and thus people always have different understandings of information and occurrences that often cause the conflict that we have seen throughout history.
To say we “understand” something, we need to be inserted in at least one of these branches: comprehension, discernment, or empathy. First, one’s understanding can be strongly linked to comprehension because to understand means that someone learns the meaning or significance of what is told. Significance, indeed, takes us to our second branch- discernment. To understand means to discern because the process of understanding includes realizing the value of the information presented. Last but not least, to understand can mean to empathically approach information or situations by placing yourself into one’s place. In the sentence “I understand how sad you are”, for example, we can observe that the term “understanding” associates all three branches- for people who understand how sad another person is, first, have the ability to visualize how sad would they also be if they were the ones dealing with the situation, but also give value to one’s feelings, since he or she also realizes that being sad is not a pleasurable feeling. Therefore, when someone is aimed at comforting a person that is not feeling well, he or she fulfills this goal by saying “I understand”. From the examples previously mentioned we can conclude that understanding is not only about hearing or listening, but having the capacity of rationally approaching a given information or situation.
When we say we understand something, it means that we ourselves now have the knowledge of a particular thing or concept. I think a good way to demonstrate if we know something is if we can describe it or teach another person. The definition of understand from dictionary.com is "to perceive the meaning of; grasp the idea of; comprehend." I think this a good definition because it describes that understanding is knowing something through your own personal perception. The idea of knowing means that you can relate the concept, thing or idea to something else. You may also be able to teach it to someone else to show your understanding and knowledge of a concept. If you understand a math problem you would be able to perform the problem again. If you understand history, you have the knowledge of a time period from someone else and can talk about your knowledge to someone else. If you understand how someone is feeling, you can relate what they've told you to how you've felt in the past to have knowledge of what they are feeling at that exact moment. Having understanding is different for each person because someone's understanding of one thing is completely different than another person's understanding of the same thing. For me, I understand math in one way because its the easiest way for me to know how to do a problem for example. However, someone else may understand math in a completely different way because they find it easier to perform the same problem with a different approach and thought process. Understanding is about possessing knowledge and it depends on your personal perception.
To understand something means not only that the information that was presented has been internalized or processed, but also that it can be applied. Acknowledging that understanding requires application is essential for separating the concept of understanding from memorization. When someone memorizes a passage it does not mean that they can apply or analyze it in any means, therefore what has been done has been merely the internalization of information, and thus not the understanding of that same information. As in example, during a classroom a teacher gives a lecture about simple and complex machines and then asks a student the definition of a wheel and axle. The student promptly answers the question correct. The answer is by all means accurate, yet this does not mean that he has internalized and processed the information in a way to apply it to any other situation. A student that really understands the concept will not only be aware of such information, but also will be able to apply such information in the creation of a complex machine model, such as in a science fair project. Therefore, to understand something does not means necessarily to know it, but rather to be aware of it and how to apply its utilities and functions to other situations.
The concept of knowing and understanding something, even though they may be mistaken, are in fact very distinct. To know something is to have the knowledge of, more specifically being able to discuss a specific subject being backed up by arguments that are based on facts. On the other hand to understand a subject is to assimilate the facts, to have knowledge of why a specific subject makes logical sense. In a more broad approach, we are able to argue that knowing something does not necessarily mean that one had understood it. Understanding implies that a person not only knows the facts that relate to a specific subject but it also means that the person understand why those facts make sense and how that can be defended. To know something gives one the power to argue about that specific knowledge. However to know and understand something allows one to persuade other people to think as they do. Understanding something implies in the person also having knowledge of if, will having knowledge does not necessarily means one understands something. To understand a specific subject is to be able to explain the facts and defend one opinion based on logical sense and facts. Knowing is a huge weapon; however understanding a topic is a far more powerful weapon.
To understand something is to comprehend and interpret the understood matter in a way that would make you manage to explain it to someone else so that other people can then understand the understood matter. To understand something is to be able to formulate your own explanation on the matter, and interpret it whilst creating your own opinion once you yourself have perceived the significance of such a matter. Understanding is managing to create your own way of comprehending a matter, which could very well be completely different to the way in which someone else comprehends and interprets the exact same subject, however you're interpretation is different since its the easiest way for you to feel comfortable with it. Although, both interpretations are valid. Overall, everyone can have their own, individual understanding of a matter, which means they have comprehended a subject in their own personal way.
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