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knowledge is power (2)

this is the universität zürich, where i studied for long years ago. since january, i am going back there for regularly lectures every thursday. they are public, deal with different topics like history, language, philosophy, biology, culture. i'm doing this in a futile attempt to catch up on recent developments in science, which i have begun to miss during my long years of work in “business”.

they always told us, in school, in books, in the class rooms that “knowledge is power”. i've never seen any proof to that. on the contrary: most people that take the time to study, read and grind their heads into a problem, to my experience tend to be in the powerless positions of changing nothing in reality. they usually have good but nevertheless rather unimportant jobs, they do their contribution to society but seldom lead companies, are politicians, earn millions or reign whole armies of dependent individuals.

real power, as it looks to me, is always gravitating towards those ignorant of details, deeper analysis and different view points. maybe i am wrong, and a bigger part of me hopes i am, but what happens in the world every day seems to underline that knowledge, of whatever and how much ever, is rather an obstacle in gaining power.

but then what is the reason for those who love to read, study, find out about the this & that of anything they consider interesting? why do we want to “know”?

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    There are 11 comments, add yours!

    • # Miclaud

      I agree you in most of points... Knowledge is not always power if you do not share it with much practice...
      Anyway, I like your photos too :)))

      2011.04.03 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Viktorija

      oh, I like these pictures so much.
      Michael, what would you change being a politician? what would you do with millions? what have you learned since January?

      2011.04.02 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Lyency

      this space is gorgeous. and it is man made. the power of knowledge means to be able to build, fly, communicate
      these images are beautiful. and made by you. the knowledge gives you the power to create, travel, play music

      2011.03.31 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Lisa

      I think the quote is about specifics - if you learn that you have elevated arsenic levels in your water supply, then you can take legal or political action based on that. But I also see it as personal power - the more you know, the more thought power you have, to make analogies, to understand different fields, places, ideas - which makes life richer and more enjoyable.

      2011.03.31 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Anand Khandelwal

      i'd second you. the same thought has crossed my mind so many times. but what the heck, we just do what makes us happy don't we?

      2011.03.31 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Stefan Fletcher

      One of the flaws in your argument is the assumption that power means the "power to change". When knowledge is a commodity, to be traded for the material benefit of the holder, very often it becomes a mechanism to maintain the status quo by joining it. Holders of non-medical doctorates who insist on being called "doctor" are a good example (hello, Baron zu Googleberg).

      Knowledge is its own goal, its own power. My life didn't improve after I was awarded by my doctorate (in fact, it deteriorated) but then, I insist on being called by my first name where possible and by "Mr" in all other cases.

      I was thatchered in the early 90s and moved to France. My research has absolutely no practical or material application and I rather hope it's been disproved in the 20 years since I undertook it, but my life would have been much poorer without it.

      Knowledge is ultimately a selfish joy - until you get a chance to share it.

      2011.03.31 Edited Reply Cancel