Fredrick Lewis Donaldson in an ingenious sermon identified the Seven Social Sins and among them, and curiously so, was the sin of having knowledge without character. Knowledge has been praised to be the best and safest treasure that even the most dexterous kleptomaniacs cannot conjure ways to rob it. The great philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, perceives that knowledge inculcates a man with the ability to not only love his enemies but hate his friends. How true is this supposition? Knowledge has had its fair share of divine definition. The Bible traces the reason of Gods people perishing to lack of knowledge. Is this divine, spiritual, academic or natural knowledge? If so does the Bible offer an instrument through which this body of knowledge can be disseminated to mitigate the perishing? The modern world has varied methods through which persons seek to gain knowledge. The school system is popularly conceived by many people to propagate knowledge. However, numerous individuals throughout history have vehemently opposed this conception, and view schools as an organization that curtail and obstruct the acquisition true knowledge. The writing of Socrates, Henry Thoreau and recently John Taylor Gatto all are dismissive of the perception that for one to acquire the true knowledge you need to go to school (carr, 2008). On the contrary, these great individuals consciously believe that everybody is a genius in his way, they just have to find the right circumstances to fashion their ingenuity into useful endeavors.
Knowledge is power. It confers power to do good, the power to perform better, the power to make industries produce more efficiently, the power to treat diseases, the power to build bridges over seas and oceans, the power to bring people together and power create a wonderful world in which generations to come will elatedly live in harmoniously. That is the latent exponential potential that is inherent in knowledge. Suffice to say, knowledge has done more good to people living on earth. It is knowledge that melted the ignorance of a street hustler, one Malcolm X, and fashioned him to be one of the most eloquent and aggressive champions of black freedom. Malcolm's pursuit for knowledge with the intent of being able to communicate with his religious father led him to see literal documentation how the black community was being oppressed, and this inflamed a fire in him to extinguish these discriminatory norms against the minority blacks persistent in the society (Gullickson, 1993). Knowledge has been the fountain of many great inventions that have changed the world for the better. Many surgeons who have sought knowledge in their laboratories have come up with inventions that treat diseases and conditions that were once conceived terminal. Currently, heart, lung, and kidney transplants are a normal procedure done successfully in hospitals across the globe. Advancement in pharmaceuticals can be attributed to the knowledge that has been gathered gradually. These developments have led the development of vaccines to immunize animals and human beings against some of the most dangerous diseases. The inventions of vaccines have seen the eradication of smallpox that claimed approximately 300 million lives.
The pursuit of knowledge is advantageous as it has improved the living standards of citizens of the world. Advancement in the knowledge of agriculture has resulted to excess production of food mitigating cases of hunger during drought seasons. In the field of architecture, knowledge has enabled architectures to construct buildings that were practically impossible imagine. Dams have been built to generate electricity, a source of energy that drives the modern world. Knowledge, true knowledge, made playwrights such Shakespeare address evils of the society and condemn such vices as discrimination against the Jews and uplift the role of women in the society. The progress in technology has had innumerable merits in the world. Information is now spread in a split of a second and the world is alive to developments in every nook and cranny of the earth.
However, knowledge without character has proven to do more harm than good. Particularly, in the advancements of technology, this kind of knowledge has tainted the true intention of acquiring knowledge. Men have been practically reduced to non-thinking status gobbling copious amount of metadata flooding the net. The data has not only eroded our literal culture or reading and thinking but our social, political and economic spectrum of our lives. Technology has now become not only the supplier of information but the tool of shaping the nature of our thoughts. Advancements in knowledge have led to the creation of weapons that can wipeout the very existence of humanity. It instills fear among countries, and each perceives a way to wipe out the other and through the deadly process the human generation can be wiped out at the press of a few buttons. Knowledge of chemistry and biology has aided terrorist to fashion biological weapons with catastrophic potential. There inherent in knowledge is the power to do evil. Young children are denied the opportunity to pursue true knowledge and sieve the goodness or evilness of knowledge by themselves. School systems have been structured to confer a body of knowledge that makes students prisoners of books. The current systems that are obligated to spread knowledge are not interested in making the recipients of the knowledge be good people, be good citizens or curve their best personal attributes. As Dr. Inglis breaks down the function of dissemination of knowledge in the modern school, and it neither makes the children be good people, be good citizens nor curve their best personal attributes (carr, 2008). The advancements in knowledge have made human beings to think machines and lose their originality and free thought. Therefore, in pursuing some body knowledge, perhaps we are killing our sense of wonder and inquisitiveness, creating more mystery as to whether knowledge is pertinent or detrimental (Vogel, X & Haley, 1967).
Perhaps, all knowledge hurts. Perhaps we are consumed by an illusion of enjoying a monopoly of knowledge whereas in a real sense we have none as Stephen Hawking, a famous physicist, once purported. As the allegory of the cave implies, Platos literal work, that once we get to grasp a particular body of knowledge about something, we should go back to a point where we didnt know anything about it for us to view the thing better and in a more informed vantage point of view (Plato., 2010). The pursuit of knowledge is relatively advantageous if it has character, and it can be perilous if pursued with malicious intentions. Therefore, the determinant of what is knowledge and whether it is good to pursue it or not is a question still shrouded in dark clouds of mystery. Anais Nin succinctly summarized this dilemma by saying that the possession of a body of knowledge does not kill the inherent sense of wonder and mystery in men; rather it intensifies the mystery.
carr, n. (2008). Is Google Making Us Stupid?. Yearbook Of The National Society For The Study Of Education, 107(2), 89-94. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7984.2008.00172.x
Gullickson, T. (1993). Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Psyccritiques, 38(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/033175
Plato.,. (2010). The allegory of the cave. [Brea, CA]: P & L Publication.
Vogel, S., X, M., & Haley, A. (1967). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Review Of Religious Research, 8(2), 127. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3510734
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