AskDefine | Define understanding

Dictionary Definition

understanding adj : characterized by understanding based on comprehension and discernment and empathy; "an understanding friend"

Noun

1 the cognitive condition of someone who understands; "he has virtually no understanding of social cause and effect" [syn: apprehension, discernment, savvy]
2 the statement (oral or written) of an exchange of promises; "they had an agreement that they would not interfere in each other's business"; "there was an understanding between management and the workers" [syn: agreement]
3 an inclination to support or be loyal to or to agree with an opinion; "his sympathies were always with the underdog"; "I knew I could count on his understanding" [syn: sympathy]
4 the capacity for rational thought or inference or discrimination; "we are told that man is endowed with reason and capable of distinguishing good from evil" [syn: reason, intellect]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. Mental, sometimes emotional process of comprehension, assimilation of knowledge, which is subjective by its nature.
  2. Reason or intelligence, ability to grasp the full meaning of knowledge, ability to infer.
  3. Opinion, judgement or outlook.
    According to my understanding, the situation is quite perilous. I wonder if you see it this way, too.
  4. An informal contract, mutual agreement.
    I thought we had an understanding - you do the dishes, and I throw the trash.
  5. A reconciliation of differences.
    The parties of the negotiation have managed to come to an understanding.
  6. Sympathy.
    He showed much understanding when he found out of my troublesome familial history.
  7. All that people individually sense and feel of ourselves.

Translations

Mental process of comprehension, assimilation of knowledge, subjective by its nature
Ability to grasp the full meaning of knowledge, ability to infer
Opinion, judgement or outlook
Informal contract, mutual agreement
Reconciliation of differences
Sympathy
All that people individually sense and feel of ourselves

Adjective

  1. Showing compassion.

Translations

Showing compassion

Verb

understanding
  1. present participle of understand

Extensive Definition

Understanding (also called intellection) is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as, person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object.
An understanding is the limit of a conceptualization. To understand something is to have conceptualised it to a given measure.

Examples

  1. One understands the weather if one is able to predict and to give an explanation of some of its features, etc.
  2. A psychiatrist understands another person's anxieties if he/she knows that person's anxieties, their causes, and can give useful advice on how to cope with the anxiety.
  3. A person understands a command if he/she knows who gave it, what is expected by the issuer, and whether the command is legitimate, and whether one understands the speaker (see 4).
  4. One understands a reasoning, an argument, or a language if one can consciously reproduce the information content conveyed by the message.
  5. One understands a mathematical concept if one can solve problems using it, especially problems that are not similar to what one has seen before.

Is understanding definable?

It is difficult to define understanding. If we use the term concept as above, the question then arises as to what is a concept? Is it an abstract thing? Is it a brain pattern or a rule? Whatever definition is proposed, we can still ask how it is that we understand the thing that is featured in the definition: we can never satisfactorily define a concept, still less use it to explain understanding.
Thomas Edison believed that the concept of understanding comes from the two simple words under and stand. When one acknowledges that she/he stands below someone or something else, she/he makes him/herself receptive to obtain and retain information from it, thereby allowing for understanding to occur. http://www.thomasedison.com/biog.htm
It may be more convenient to use an operational or behavioural definition, that is, to can say that somebody who reacts appropriately to X understands X. For example, one understands Swahili if one correctly obeys commands given in that language. This approach, however, may not provide an adequate definition. A computer can easily be programmed to react appropriately to commands, but there is a disagreement as to whether or not the computer understands the language (see the Chinese room argument).
According to the independent socionics researcher Rostislav Persion:
In the cognitive model presented by MBTI, the process of introverted thinking (Ti) is thought to represent understanding through cause and effect relationships or correlations. One can construct a model of a system by observing correlations between all the relevant properties (e.g. The output of a NAND gate relative to its inputs). This allows the person to generate truths about the system and then to apply the model to demonstrate his or her understanding. A mechanic for example may randomly, or algorithmically probe the inputs and outputs of a black box to understand the internal components through the use of induction. INTP, ISTP, ESTP, and ENTP all use Ti and are usually the best of the 16 types at understanding their material environment in a bottom-up manner. These types may enjoy mechanics and digital electronics because of the 1 to 1 correlation between cause and effect relationships in these fields. Understanding is not limited to these types however as other types demonstrate an identical process, although in other planes of reality; ie. Social, Theological and Aesthetic. A potential reason for the association of understanding with the former personality types is due to a social phenomenon for asymmetrical distribution of gratification. In the field of engineering, engineers probe or study the inputs and outputs of components to understand their functionality. These components are then combined based on their functionality (similar to computer programming) to create a larger, more complex system. This is the reason why engineers attempt to subdivide ideas as deep as possible to obtain the lowest level of knowledge. This makes their models more detailed and flexible. It may be useful to know the formulas that govern an ideal gas, but to visualise the gas as being made up of small moving particles, which are in turn made up of even smaller particles, is true understanding. People who are understanding (through the use of Ti) usually value objects and people based on usefulness, as opposed to the people who use extroverted thinking (Te) who view people or things as having a worth. In order to test one's understanding it is necessary to present a question that forces the individual to demonstrate the possession of a model, derived from observable examples of that model's production or potential production (in the case that such a model did not exist before hand). Rote memorization can present an illusion of understanding, however when other questions are presented with modified attributes within the query, the individual cannot create a solution due to a lack of a deeper representation of reality.
Another significant point of view holds that knowledge is the simple awareness of bits of information. Understanding is the awareness of the connection between the individual pieces of this information. It is understanding which allows knowledge to be put to use. Therefore, understanding represents a deeper level than simple knowledge.
The concepts of comprehension, thought and understanding are also used in the short science fiction story Understand by Ted Chiang.

Religious Perspectives

In Catholicism and Anglicanism, understanding is one of the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
understanding in German: Verstehen
understanding in French: Compréhension
understanding in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Comprehension
understanding in Italian: Comprensione
understanding in Dutch: Verstehen
understanding in Japanese: 悟性
understanding in Quechua: Hap'iqay
understanding in Russian: Понимание
understanding in Albanian: Kuptimi
understanding in Simple English: Understanding
understanding in Slovak: Chápanie
understanding in Finnish: Ymmärrys
understanding in Thai: ความเข้าใจ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

IQ, Spartan, Vernunft, abatement of differences, acceptation, accepting, acclamation, accommodation, accord, accordance, accordant, acute, adjustment, affinity, agape, agreeable, agreeing, agreement, agreement of all, akin, all-knowing, alliance, amicable, amity, apperception, apperceptive, appercipient, apprehending, apprehension, apprehensive, argute, armed with patience, armistice, arrangement, astute, at one, attuned, aware, awareness, bargain, binding agreement, bleeding, bond, bonds of harmony, brain, brains, bright, brotherly love, caliber, capacity, caritas, cartel, cement of friendship, charitable, charity, chorus, clairvoyance, clement, cogent, cognizant, collective agreement, command, commiserative, commitment, common assent, common consent, communion, community, community of interests, compact, compassionate, compatibility, compatible, composition, comprehending, comprehension, compromise, conception, conceptive, conceptual, conceptualization, concert, concession, concord, concordance, concordant, concordat, concurrence, condolent, congenial, congeniality, conscious, consensus, consensus gentium, consensus of opinion, consensus omnium, consent, consentaneity, consortium, contract, convention, cop-out, cordial understanding, correspondence, corresponding, covenant, covenant of salt, deal, deductive power, desertion of principle, dicker, discerning, discernment, disciplined, discourse of reason, discrimination, discursive, discursive reason, empathetic, empathic, empathy, employment contract, en rapport, endurant, engagement, enlightenment, entente, entente cordiale, esemplastic power, esprit, esprit de corps, estimation, evasion of responsibility, farseeing, farsighted, feeling of identity, fellow feeling, fellowship, fix on, forbearant, forbearing, foreknowledge, foreseeing, foresighted, forethoughted, forethoughtful, formal agreement, frictionless, frictionlessness, general acclamation, general agreement, general consent, general voice, gentle, give-and-take, giving way, good sense, good vibes, good vibrations, grasp, gray matter, grip, happy family, harmonious, harmony, head, headpiece, human, humane, ideation, ideational, identity, import, in accord, in concert, in rapport, in tune, incisive, indulgent, inharmony, insight, insightful, integrative power, intellect, intellection, intellectual, intellectual faculty, intellectual grasp, intellectual power, intellectualism, intellectuality, intelligence, intelligence quotient, intelligent, intendment, interpretation, intuition, ironclad agreement, judgement, kinship, knowing, knowledge, knowledgeable, legal agreement, legal contract, lenient, like-minded, like-mindedness, long-suffering, longheaded, longsighted, love, mastery, meaning, meeting of minds, melting, mens, mental age, mental capacity, mental grasp, mental ratio, mentality, merciful, message, mind, mindful, mother wit, mutual agreement, mutual concession, mutual understanding, mutuality, native wit, noetic, not so dumb, notion, nous, obligation, of one mind, omniscient, one accord, one voice, oneness, opinion, pact, paction, patient, patient as Job, peace, peaceful, penetrating, penetration, perception, perceptive, percipience, percipient, persevering, perspicacious, perspicuous, philosophical, piercing, pitying, power of mind, power of reason, precognition, preengagement, prehensile, prehension, promise, protocol, provident, psyche, purport, rapport, rapprochement, ratio, rational, rationality, reading, reason, reasonable, reasoning, reasoning faculty, reasoning power, reciprocity, recognizance, reconciliation, ruthful, sagacious, sagacity, sageness, same mind, sane, sanity, sapience, savvy, scope of mind, self-controlled, sense, sensible, sensitiveness, sensitivity, settlement, sharing, shrewd, significance, significancy, signification, single voice, smarts, soft, softhearted, solidarity, sophic, stipulation, stoic, strong-minded, surrender, sympathetic, sympathizing, sympathy, symphony, team spirit, tender, tenderhearted, thinking power, together, tolerant, tolerating, tolerative, total agreement, transaction, treaty, trenchant, truce, unanimity, unanimousness, undertaking, union, union contract, unison, united, unity, universal agreement, valid contract, verbal agreement, view, wage contract, warmhearted, wisdom, wise, wit, yielding
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