Untitled Essay, Research Paper
Knowledge, Power, Wisdom, Truth, and The LikeEveryone has heard the idiom ?knowledge is power.? In fact, it has become a clich? in our culture. But is this statement true? What exactly is the relationship between knowledge and power? Are the two independent of each other? Or are they mutually exclusive? Are there times when one must defer to the other, making one of them superior to the other? Or, perhaps, is wisdom a more important attribute than knowledge? Aside from the issue of knowledge and power is the issue of truth and power. Is there a difference between something being held as true and the actual truth? Is there only one truth, or are there many contradicting truths? In order for something to be true, must it be accepted by those in power? Conversely, must those in power acknowledge the truth in order to remain in power?No one knows for sure who first coined the phrase ?knowledge is power?, but one can suppose that it was someone who greatly valued education and learning. It can also be imagined that this person was a student of the world around him, as he noticed that although ignorant people came into power by bloodline or some other matter, it was intelligent people who would wrest the power away from the ignorant and be more likely to retain it. He noticed that the association between knowledge and power is very closely related. If one was to try to gain power by taking it from someone else, knowledge was a necessary tool. The person attempting to gain power must be knowledgeable of the circumstances surrounding him or her, and he or she must have the knowledge of how to correctly react to changes in the surrounding political environment. Shrewdness is often an essential element involved in a person wrenching power away from the leader. Since shrewdness is defined as being ?intelligent, worldly-wise and clever,? it is obviously ineffective without knowledge. Once power is obtained, knowledge is not cast aside. Rather, it must be improved upon constantly in order to retain the power. It can be said that one does not need much knowledge to posses power, however, it would be errant to state that one does not need knowledge in order to gain or retain power.Although the relationship between knowledge and power is so closely intertwined, are there circumstances in which either knowledge or power must defer to the other? Well, a look back at history serves as the best guide to this question. Throughout history there have been numerous occasions in which knowledge has deferred to power. This mainly occurs when the powers that be have an absolute control, as Machiavelli describes in his book The Prince. For example, when the Roman Catholic Church ruled the known world in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, they censored and suppressed knowledge constantly. They were able to do so because their power was all encompassing. They controlled the religious aspect of the people?s lives, and they also ran every facet of the local governments. Because they controlled everything, they had the power to instill fear into the people. As a result of this unimpaired power, the people had nowhere to turn for justice. Although knowledge has succumbed to power on many an occasion, one would be hard pressed to find an instance of power giving in to knowledge. I know I sure had a terrible time trying to find an example of this. Then it occurred to me why I couldn?t find such an occurrence: power will never be willingly relinquished because of knowledge; rather, it will only be surrendered to a more physically superior power. After all, if the point of power is to be in control, then the entity in power won?t give up the desirable power unless physical harm is imminent. Ideas and knowledge are the beginning footsteps in overthrowing a power, but these alone are never enough.This notion of ideas and knowledge being used to obtain power brings up another very important concept. Is knowledge the only thing needed, or is it just the starting point? I believe that wisdom is just as, if not more important than the actual knowledge. The dictionary defines wisdom as ?having the ability to make a right decision or judgment by applying intelligent thought to a wide range of experience and knowledge, with prudence.? Going by this definition, I think that one can easily see the point I am trying to make. Wisdom acts similarly to a chemical catalyst in a chemistry experiment. Knowledge just sits and gathers dust until it is combined with wisdom, at which time it becomes a useful tool in everyday situations, not just in gaining power. It does not matter how much or how little knowledge one has. Being able to put it to use in the right manner is necessary. In light of this, I believe that the clich? stated earlier is misstated. In my opinion, it should read ?wisdom is power.?Another element that often becomes entangled with power is that of truth. In order to understand the relationship between truth and power, one must first have an understanding of truth. The dictionary has several different meanings for the word true. The ones most suited for this use of the word, however, are ?something in agreement with fact,? ?something accurate or correct,? and ?something which is not contradicted.? Earlier, the question was put forth whether or not there is a difference between something believed to be true and the actual truth. Without even using this definition, one can see that it is plainly possible, just by taking a look at the history of science. People used to believe that the earth was the center of the universe, yet we know today that that belief is erroneous. Although we know that the earth is round, it was once a common belief that the earth was flat. Basically, just because something is held to be true doesn?t make it true.This brings up my next point. Is truth some ambiguous creature with many faces, or are there certain things that are true? There are many situations which one might encounter in our world today, in which the phrase ?Well, it?s true for me? might be heard. Is this a correct statement? Or is it just a way for people to rationalize their actions? Is it be possible for there to be more than one truth in one situation? According to the definition given earlier, there can only be one truth. Since one of the definitions of truth is ?something which is not contradicted,? it is impossible for two contradicting ideas on the same subject to be true.There are some who believe that in order for something to be true, it must be held to be true by those in power. I find this statement very inaccurate, and also an extremely dangerous belief. If this idea were true, then all of the tyrannical governments in history have been preaching the truth. It would mean that Adolf Hitler was right in attempting to commit genocide on the Jewish race because he was in power, and that was ?his truth.? I dare say that everyone in the world that saw what was going on believed his actions to be wrong, and I think that they were right. These people who saw what was happening and believed the truth that ?genocide is wrong? were not in power, but does that make their belief any less true? On the opposite side of things, does the fact that Hitler was in power make his belief that ?Jews need to be exterminated? any more true?On a final note, does the truth need to be acknowledged by those in power in order for them to retain their power? Truth and power do have a relationship, but it is not a hand-in-hand relationship like knowledge and power have. Suppose that those in power are promoting a false truth. When the real truth is brought to their attention, then there are only two possible choices in order to retain their power. The first is to realize the error of their beliefs and follow the truth. The second is to control the spread of the real truth and continue to spread the false truth. Yet, if the real truth is never known, then there is no way for those in power to acknowledge it, so truth will not be a cause of any loss of power.The relationship between knowledge and power is seen in many instances, and through logic and deduction, its relationship is made clear. Furthermore, one can see how important wisdom is to knowledge, and along those same lines, how important it is to the gaining and retention of power. Wisdom is more important than just power, though. Wisdom provides the proper means with which to deal with situations that arise in everyday life, through experience. Relating with knowledge is the issue of truth. Truth, being defined as ?something which is not contradicted,? means that there can only be one truth for each subject. When two supposed truths contradict, then there is no way that they can both be true. These issues of knowledge, wisdom, and truth are applicable in daily life, and are all very important in surviving the day to day trials which arise in life.