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Knowledge Is Not Power

(Translated by Treasure and Edited by Kaer) 

Knowledge is a combination of the experience and cognition accumulated by our social and productive practical activities. One can possess a wealth of knowledge, which means that they possess the “foundation” to gain power, but no matter how much knowledge they have, it does not mean that they will ever have power. It is like a library which has abundant knowledge but no power. From the point of storing knowledge, a person’s brain is only like a library.  

“Knowledge is power”, is from “Meditation”, written by the seventeenth century British philosopher, Francis Bacon. It teachers delight in using certain words to arouse students’ learning interest at school. As a result, students blindly believe that as long as they learn their lessons well which are set by schools, and as long as they grasp that knowledge, they will have the power to achieve their own pursuits and ideals after they graduate.  

Knowledge comes mainly from our sense organs. However, in the view of the Greek Philosopher Protagoras, “Human is the measure of everything”. This was refuted by Francis Bacon who wrote that “It is a great mistake to conclude that our limited sense organs measure all things”. In other words, it is wrong to judge and measure all things and all forms from the limited knowledge that our sense organs can provide.  

Consider a scenario in which a sexy young girl with a middle school diploma is standing next to a more mature, older lady with a Doctorate degree and both are in front of an interviewer. Which one is more likely to arouse the man’s rich imagination, alter his mood, and motivate his intense vitality? If it is the young girl, that is because knowledge is not true power since even beauty can have more power.  

It is reckless and dangerous to believe that “Knowledge is power”. Not only is it a cognitive misconception, but also a behavioral one. For example, to accept that “When a son is grown he takes a wife, and when a girl is mature she finds a husband” as a life knowledge is bound to bring anguish and suffering throughout their whole lives. This knowledge has lead people to make such common mistakes for thousands of years, but which accomplish no good. 

Some more are:

“There are three forms of unfilial conduct but the worst is to have no descendants.”

“Filial piety is the most important of all virtues.”

“Lewdness is the worst of all sins.”

“He who does not endure hardship cannot stand up to others.” 

Another example is how education and guidance are passed from parents to their children. Can a parent’s knowledge conduct and educate their children with both a full range of healthy spirits, minds, and bodies, as well as the ability to lead their own independent lives? Most fall very short. 

When great changes take place in objective knowledge but we stubbornly insist on applying our traditional knowledge, we will certainly be rebuffed. Look at various religious dogmas and concepts. As they feel a loss of power, they become reactionary, resist social development, and impede natural human liberation.  

In fact, prejudices and superstitions are knowledge. What are the benefits of such knowledge? None! 

Our most powerful intellectual force is the power of flexible and tactful thinking. 

I believe firmly that Albert Einstein’s power came not from his knowledge, but from his thinking; “How would I perceive the universe if I were riding on a beam of light?”. Those who read more and get more diplomas and more experience but form rigid ways of thinking have rarely been found to wield much power.

Lasting power comes from neither knowledge nor from powerful economic strength and national defense forces, but from sincerity, kindness, virtue, love, faith, and honesty.

Sincere deeds have power, kind behavior has power, things of virtue have power, love is a powerful force, honest quality has power, people who keep their words and their faith have power. 

Conclusion: knowledge must be learned and accumulated, but knowledge has limitation, danger, and can be reactionary. Never believe blindly that having knowledge is synonymous with having power.

Rather than spending your precious time on chasing knowledge, you would be well advised to concentrate your efforts on sincerity, kindness, virtue, love, faith, and honesty, for those are the people who will enjoy lasting power. Meanwhile, take pains to develop your way of thinking by never spending time and effort reciting your former knowledge or stubbornly judging and adapting to a changing, living reality with dead, prejudicial knowledge.


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