“When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to resemble nails” (Abraham Maslow). How might this apply to ways of knowing, as tools, in the pursuit of knowledge?

Topics: Knowledge, Epistemology, Knowledge management Pages: 3 (1114 words) Published: March 27, 2014
(from 2014) “When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to resemble nails” (Abraham Maslow). How might this apply to ways of knowing, as tools, in the pursuit of knowledge?

In order to approach this question sufficiently, two things need to be determined; what a problem is considered and what Maslow’s “hammer” means in his quote. If the tools are the ways of knowing, then the hammer would be the body of the knower. The knower’s conflicts in the pursuit of knowledge while using these tools will portray the “problems” in this essay.

At first glance, Maslow’s quote seems to be very vast, containing many unexplained metaphors. By limiting the knower to having control of only one tool, the hammer, Maslow restricts the knowers pursuit of knowledge. With many other tools, the knower is able to overcome many varying problems. In this quote, there is a clear problem and solution already stated; the knower is given the problem, the nails, and is also given the solution, the hammer. This simple quote also forces the knower to discover many questions: how can one identify a problem? Is the knower able to identify a problem if he/she does not possess the required tool to solve it? When faced with this scenario, do we guide ourselves to find the correct tool? One example that correlates to these questions is the heavily debated notion that Eskimos have a large number of words that describe snow in their vocabulary. They are limited in the knowledge they know, they have only one tool (the hammer). Because of this lack of tools, they slowly progress their narrow vocabulary (the nails). Situations like this tend to guide many knowers to the infamous “the chicken or egg was first” predicament. Referring back to the quote, does the knower identify the problems first or the solution? At first, the hammer seems to be this great and powerful “tool” that is able to solve any given problem. When a knower looks at this metaphor with a logical sense, he/she will...
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