Knowledge is freedom vs knowledge is power

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“Knowledge is freedom” vs “knowledge is power”, are they really alternatives? Of course not, the question is what do you put in the first place or what would first come to mind.

For those of you with “knowledge is power” in mind, life is a struggle, the world is a jungle and everything is transactional, so anything to help you survive or be on the top is welcomed. Statistically speaking most of the people now, almost everybody a century ago has been in that position. A typical example is a distant relative of mine who has been (and still is) a businessman (sort of). His way of doing business has been to explore the weaknesses of people and laws wherever he could find them. For him, knowledge is a tool to find and approach these weaknesses. He even tried (unsuccessfully) to convince his daughter to study law for the same reason. I’m torn between pitty and dislike such people, probably depending on their individual charm. Can you blame anybody for getting the best from life in an evolutionary style? Yes, I can if they had the opportunity to make something from themselves and they didn’t take it.

For the Christian folks, there is a very peculiar quote, frequently quoted for all the wrong reasons. “The Truth Will Set You Free” – John 8:32 Bible.
First of all, what truth. In a religious context that is the only possible truth of MY religion and denomination. Anything coming from any other religion or (God forbid) atheism is either misguided or a lie. Why would the truth set you free? How will accepting a dogma liberate you? Then I remembered decision fatigue which is the bias we experience when we have to make too many decisions for a limited time (aka everyday life). So the freedom here is the freedom of not thinking but either having faith instead that the things will go (at the end) the way they are supposed to go (God’s master plan and all that) OR follow the instructions of your priest, church, religion, etc. The latter will decipher the true meaning of your existence and help you to fulfil your destiny (your role in God’s plan). For many (too many) that’s how freedom looks like.
The absurdity of “The Truth Will Set You Free” resembles “Arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free) the welcome sigh of Nazi concentration camps.

In the end, there is the knowledge accumulated via open-mind experiences and the scientific method. That knowledge gives you a deeper understanding of the world and yourself and helps you to accept whatever cannot be changed and improve whatever can be changed but always challenge the border between the two (paraphrasing Serenity Prayer).

Categories human condition, society


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