Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Knowledge Is Power

“‘Knowledge is power’, maybe read not simply as an endorsement of knowledge but also as a warning about its perils. For fear of the power others might acquire against them, ruling elites have often kept knowledge secret, limited public discussion, and controlled religion, education, and science so as to prevent their subjects from acquiring sensitive information and dangerous ideas.” Starr, P8

For long time, knowledge and power are always interlaced and covered with each other. They are in an ambiguous relationship all the time. Especially in the humanity and liberal science, because they play significant roles in the of value system, they constantly involve in the battle with the power expansion.

Knowledge can be served as a tool of the political power. In the age of church, the hierarchy of knowledge is obvious and terrifying. Knowledge was only privileged to those who own power and wealth. Knowledge, as a tool, was used by the top rank of the hierarchy system to control their subordinates and maximize their power. The clergies interpreted the Bible differently according to their will. Thus the Church can control the poor by fooling their minds. The lower class, however, were deprived of educating, being unable to read or write. Not allowed to get in touch with truth, they become numb and submissive.

Knowledge is also dangerous. Possessing intelligence by acquiring knowledge, people can achieve the ability to doubt the existing and fixed notions and the obscure unsolved problems, and even things like hierarchy that makes the majority subject to the superior minority. Once the inferior majority begin to doubt their situation and awaken to fight with the upper class, it will soon be an end to the hierarchy system. Moreover, more people become literate and cultivated by reading, so that the written culture would be no longer monopolized by the upper class. The popular culture, which stands for the lower class, would gradually consolidate, which composes a great threat to the official culture, representing the upper class.

Books are the original records of knowledge, truth and spirit. Reading builds the bridge to access of intelligence. By reading, people learn the truth of life, the abstruseness of the world and the operation of the society. That’s why books were prohibited by the church and book burning were not exceptional in the history course.


At 10:29 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post on an important idea. You chose a key quote that sums up the idea.

The tension between secrecy and access is a crucial issue. Class is an important dynamic as well.

Now that you understand the argument, we need to look at how this has played out during different eras and in different places. Understanding the European roots of this conflict will make the American example easier to understand.


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