Can Knowledge in Itself be Good or Evil?
A discussion of the Duality of Knowledge and the Way in which Human Interpretation Skews its Perception
Theory of Knowledge Paper
Since the dawn of human civilization, knowledge had always been a controlling force of humanity. The greatest of men and the bloodiest of all tyrants have both used knowledge as a tool to secure control over thousands and to ensure their place in history. Similarly religion, a force that has been around since prehistoric man, continues to manipulate the minds of millions in an effort to control the masses and spread its faith. To this very day the governments of nations feel it is necessary to keep secrets from their people and to censor certain information. In light of these facts, one must ask why countless groups and organization spend millions of dollars in an attempt to gain control of our minds. Has mankind decided that knowledge is inherently evil? That perhaps there are certain things we simply should not know? Conceivably our fear of knowledge lies in its misunderstanding. Knowledge has in the past proven to be both a blessing and a burden, and it is this duality of knowledge that has created a dilemma for human beings for countless centuries. We are often too quick to put the blame on knowledge, yet knowledge without interpretation is ineffectual, only in the mind of a human being can it grow to be a menace or a savior.
Where does the body stop and the mind start In the philosophy narrative since early times there were three basic theories that described relationship and connection between mind and body. These theories are as follows: dualism, materialism and phenomenalism. Dualism is based upon the ideas that the physical and mental processes of the body are not interrelated. The proponents of materialism state ...
For one to understand the true nature of knowledge, both the objective and subjective aspects of knowledge must be considered. Knowledge in its purest form, that is before it has been analyzed or thought about by anyone, is objective in nature. For example, at the exact instant a baby is born the parents and a few doctors that were present in the room all gain the objective knowledge that a new life has begun. However, almost immediately after the event the subjective mind takes over this newly acquired knowledge and begins to analyze and interpret it. The mother of the new born child may begin to think of the greatness that her new child will achieve and that perhaps it will discover a new cure for cancer. On the other hand a doctor in the room may take that same knowledge and begin to ponder how this baby is adding to the population explosion and is bringing the world one step closer to Armageddon. Consequently, while both people initially gained the same objective knowledge of a baby’s birth, only a few minutes later they are left with a very different subjective knowledge, the product of their individual minds, that is equally credible to themselves. Although this is a very innocent situation, the same sort of interpretive thinking goes on with every piece of knowledge that becomes available to us, take Einstein’s equation for example. At some point after it became public knowledge one man looked at it and though to himself, “this discovery could be used to provide clean and cheap nuclear power to the masses,” while another though, “with this kind of energy present in an atom, nuclear energy could be used to make the ultimate weapon.” Thus the real question lies in why so many different interpretations result out of the same objective knowledge.
The fact is that no two human beings were raised or live in identical circumstances, and consequently we all have significantly different outlooks on life. Any new knowledge that enters our minds is then subjectively analyzed to conform to our existing knowledge base, adding to a cycle that began at birth and is perpetuated with every new piece of knowledge we have attained since then. In the pool of knowledge that we accumulate in our minds are trapped our morals, ethics, and language, all of which have a profound impact on the way in which we analyze any new knowledge. These are all factors that are imposed on us by the society in which we live and to a considerable extent, by our own personal experiences.
Thus, many believe that the vocabulary we have does more than communicate our knowledge and rather, it shapes what we can know. However, to what extent can this statement be said to be true? Is vocabulary really the only way to communicate our knowledge? What else can vocabulary do besides communicate knowledge? Do you need to be able to communicate your knowledge to show your knowledge? Is our ...
Perhaps the single greatest influence on our interpretation of knowledge is our language, which is the primary way in which we communicate our knowledge. Unfortunately language is by no means perfect, and if used imprecisely as it often is, it can leave a lot to the imagination. Even something as subtle as the tone of voice that we use immediately enshrouds our words with a subjective hue. The ultimate goal of language is to represent our thoughts exactly through words, but often this is only a fathomable illusion as different individuals use different vocabulary and the elucidation of these words can vary greatly based on cultural background. Throughout history we have seen brilliant knowledge written down by scholars severely skewed through careless interpretation. Furthermore, language is easily manipulated to reflect the opinions of individuals, with subtle word usage having a considerable impact on the way in which others understand and process the information being passed to them. The problem lies not in the knowledge that we posses, but rather in the vehicles used to communicate knowledge to others.
Moreover, in our quest for knowledge one cannot downplay or ignore the role of ethics or the ethical conduct of individuals and societies in the pursuit of knowledge. Consider the case of nuclear physics which ultimately lead to the creation of the atomic bomb. At the time nuclear research was often hailed as a great gift to mankind as it was thought to be able to provide infinite amounts of clean and cheap energy. Unfortunately in their insatiable thirst for knowledge many physicists were so surprised by the magnitude of their discoveries that they failed to rationalize the consequences of their work. Regrettably, at that time there was not nearly enough experimental evidence or theoretical evidence to guide their action, and often they would have to rely on fundamental ethical principles to judge the significance of their findings and their impact on the future. Only today can we truly asses the impact that the research conducted decades before has had on our world. Nuclear weapons are now stockpiled throughout the globe and the matter of ethics in the search for knowledge is still hotly debated. Even today, after we have seen the result of the nuclear weapons fiasco, we continue to seek knowledge that has the potential to be beneficial but also immensely harmful such as the science of genetics. We are still unable to define a clear boundary where the quest for knowledge should end and where and how ethical principles should emerge to guide us.
1. Introduction A language is a system of symbols, generally known as lexemes and the grammars (rules) by which they are manipulated. The word language is also used to refer to the whole phenomenon of language, i.e., the common properties of languages. Language is commonly used for communication, though it has other uses. Language is a natural phenomenon, and language learning is common in ...
Knowledge in its purest form is not the cause of pain or pleasure as we often attribute it to be. Only once it has passed through the vast expanse of the human mind can it take on such subjective properties. Throughout our lives we are exposed to a constant stream of knowledge which develops us as human beings and becomes the basis for our experiences, morals, ethics, and language. These factors all then contribute to altering our perception of any knowledge that we may receive thereafter, adding to a self perpetuating cycle of interpretation and manipulation of objective knowledge. Many of us fail to approach knowledge with a holistic understanding of these inconceivably complex principles and in our ignorance we often fall victim to the tremendous consequences of possessing vast amounts of knowledge. Knowledge is a powerful tool and as such must be treated with respect, a respect that is often overlooked in our almost ravenous yearning for more and more of it.