Knowledge is of two kinds …

Knowledge is of two kinds …

Knowledge is of two kinds ..., dr samuel johnson


Knowledge is of two kinds. We either know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information about it.
Dr Samuel Johnson *

In my birthday card at, I think, 9 years of age, when most grandmas would probably be writing something like ‘Happy Birthday, enjoy your party’, the quote above is what my gran wrote in mine. I really loved this quote, and it has stayed with me all my life. I think she adapted it slightly from the original to make it more readable for me, so I remember her exact wording.

I have always lived by this, and never let lack of knowledge prevent me from finding out what I need to know. I loved to visit her, eventually living with her for a few years during my teenage, and always admired her self-built ‘library’ in her house.

I learned to read by the age of 4, before I started school, and could always be found with my head in a book, even if I gave myself nightmares by reading about yetis and spontaneous human combustion in The Unexplained magazines. The love of reading and acquiring knowledge has never left me, and my Kindle (Kindle UK) is as vital a part of me as my arms and legs, a permanent fixture, honestly it goes to my bed and everywhere else with me. Oh the joy of carrying around an entire library wherever I go.

Still, at 88 years of age and living in a nursing home, my gran has a thirst for knowledge, and continues to spend her days reading and writing, although she does get a bit frustrated trying to use her computer. She thinks that because of her struggle to keep up with technology, she may be suffering with dementia, although I always tell her that while she is keeping her brain active as she is, that really can’t happen, and it is understandable with the pace of technology that she may lose track a bit. I completely admire her tenacity in trying.

Of course, when my gran returned to education in the 1960’s, and certainly in Dr Johnson’s day, there was not the internet then, with so much information and knowledge available so readily; one had to go to libraries, and bookstores, or find an expert to learn from, to find information on specific topics, and ‘learning’ was pretty much confined to schools, colleges and universities.

Yesterday, I learned how to build a YouTube channel, and lots of bells and whistles about it, even how to configure for best effect and how to monetise it. Lots of people are making very good incomes from this type of business. I learned this from a free video course I downloaded some time ago, but hadn’t got around to doing it. Sorry I can’t remember where I found it, but if you google ‘free youtube business training’ I’m sure you’ll find it or something similar.

There are so many ways to acquire knowledge these days: books, audiobooks, videos. I love to listen to audiobooks in the bath, in the car, walking round the local park. Learning is no longer a solitary pastime: there are many adult education centres where you get to learn about things you like, from French to flower arranging, and you get to socialise with people who share your interest at the same time. Through the internet you can find many events in your local area, like seminars, networking groups, social groups that share your passion. I find every activity I take part in, leads to acquiring more knowledge, at least one golden nugget, that will stay with me and improve my life in some way.

I found myself appreciating this wonderful world of knowledge and opportunity, thinking fondly of my grandma, and being thankful to be alive in such an amazing age of learning.

If there is something you would love to learn, don’t let thoughts of a lack of knowledge stop you, it is all out there. You will find it if you really want it.

* Full citation below found at

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look at catalogues, and at the backs of books in libraries.”
— Samuel Johnson (Boswell’s Life of Johnson)

On April 18, 1775, Boswell, Johnson, and Sir Joshua Reynolds were visiting Richard Owen Cambridge, whose villa contained both an impressive art collection and an extensive library. After a quick introduction to Cambridge, Johnson ran to the library to inspect its contents. Johnson’s line above came in response to Cambridge’s questioning him regarding the intensity of his interest in the contents of the library, that he would spend such time examining the books on the shelves.

Knowledge is of two kinds …

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