On Knowledge and Power

Knowledge: the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association

Knowledge: the range of one’s information or understanding

Knowledge: the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning

Knowledge: the sum of the known – the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind

Power: ability to act or produce an effect

Power: legal or official authority, capacity, or right

Power: possession of control, authority, or influence over others

Power: a controlling group

Mangan’s 14 ways to Acquire Knowledge: Practice, Ask, Desire, Get it From Yourself, Walk Around It, Experiment, Teach, Read, Write, Listen, Observe, Put in Order, Define, Reason

Those with power get it through one or more of the following: Delegated authority, social class, resource currency, association, expertise, persuasion, knowledge, celebrity, force, moral persuasion, groups, traditions, relationships (Wikipedia)

An essence of Power Theory: Those in power want to keep it. Those out of power want to get it.

My point is simple. Politicians aren’t stupid, but their actions are about power – not knowledge. Otherwise, they would work toward solutions for the common good, not party dogma and ideology.

Definitions from Merriam-Webster

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56 thoughts on “On Knowledge and Power

  1. How many people around you are motivated by a desire for knowledge above all else? Many politicians desire to implement the changes needed to improve their society according to to a world view or an ideology that they believe in. But they are also people, human beings, and have selfish desires similar to the population at large. A few generations back, people took pride in providing for themselves, in living modestly, and in helping out the weak and infirm. Today, and in fact, since the 60s, the accent has been on self realization; on individual success, on the possession of physical comforts and trophies. Politicians are a reflection of the value standards of the society in which they live. Looking at a politician is a little like looking in the mirror, except that the politician reflects success as well. It is too easy to lambaste the politicians.

    • Shimon,
      Your words are important to ponder as they deliver much truth. Yes, the are part of and a reflection of society, and so are the actions …. and yes, perhaps it is their and societies selfishness I deplore.

  2. someone said that knowledge is a power (I can’t remember now)… But it doesn’t mean anything for now… But I agree with you politicians are not stupid, oppositely they are very clever because they know how to use the power in their hands… Thank you dear Frank, that’s all from someone who hates from politics :) Love, nia

  3. Your entry made me think deeply about the words “knowledge” and “power” and their applications in a modern representative democracy with its 24-hr. media news cycle and access to the internet.

    Concerning your Essence of Power Theory, I’m confident that the Founding Fathers in 1789 were fully aware that they lived in a world where “Those in power want to keep it. Those out of power want to get it.”, that “Politicians aren’t stupid, but their actions are about power – not knowledge,” and that it would be a challenge to convince political leaders to “work toward solutions for the common good, not party dogma (regional interests) and ideology.”

    • Tim,
      All revolutions involve the shifting of power … and there were power struggles between the Founding Fathers, much based on (as Shimon says) one’s world view and ideology … and the problems I elude to were quite evidence by George Washington through his view of political parties acting in their interest over the common good of the people.

  4. Oh so true Frank, Politicians are not fools or else they wouldn’t be holding such powerful seats, but power without conscience is such a dangerous thing…
    and here In India one can get away with anything even with slightest amount of power in pocket..

  5. I think we all feel we have some knowledge that is important about certain things. Some of us have much more than others. Most people won’t admit to being full of knowledge. And, there are the annoying ones who claim to know everything. My kids gave me a hat once that said Mr. Know It All on the front. I hope it was in jest. I was a science teacher. Teaching is a position of power.

    Power is our recognition and use of ‘knowledge’ to influence others. It can be for the common good when the knowledge is recognized as legitimate and valid, and action is needed with it. Power also comes when others are misled by the false, or trumped up, ‘knowledge’ promulgated by interest groups. As we have seen through history, that can go very very badly. We will never rid ourselves of it. It is an ugly side of humanity.

    Thanks for the morning thoughts, Frank.

    • Jim,
      .. and many thanks for sharing your thoughtful perspective. Personally, I link your words to Shimon’s thoughts on our selfish nature. Thanks for stimulating more thought!

  6. I distinctly remember a poster in one of my high school classrooms that read “Knowledge is Power”, or Knowledge = Power, to be reworded. But based on this post, (Power x 435) > (Knowledge x 313,900,000). My entire education has been turned on its head! :-S

    • Twixt,
      I’m a big believe in the power of knowledge. Although our politicians may act like dimwits at times, it remains a big game (to me) about power, thus the best solutions are put aside. Oh well ….

  7. I love this post and the discussion which follows. We have a government with ‘power and no conscience’ as Soma Mukherjee puts it, here in the UK, caring not whom they hurt in their ideological use of power, not listening to the advice given to them by those with knowledge.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I am delighted to have found you in return.

    I find it fascinating that like minds of whatever ilk seem to blog-gather. I recognise many of my favourite blogs in your list and among your commenters.

  8. We can blame politicians, because it’s a very easy thing to do. However, every politician there is was voted into office, by us. It is possible to become knowledgeable about those we vote into power before doing so. Knowledge requires effort and interest.

    (And THIS is why I rarely comment on politics!)

    • Alex,
      We get exactly what we deserve because each is elected, and we both know that there are many more reasons to vote for someone that are more important than the party affiliation. Nonetheless, I will continue to contend that once in office, one’s behavior focuses on power.

      I know you rarely comment on politics, so many thanks for doing so. :)

  9. Have you seen anything of the current political situation in Australia. Three years ago we had a PM (Rudd the dud) whose deputy stabbed him in the back and (Gillard) and she became the new PM (without being voted in by the people). But what goes around comes around because Rudd the Dud hung around and bided his time and just before we’re about to go to an election he had her removed and he’s now our PM (but not voted in by the people). We’re the laughing stock of the world. Here’s a little taste of Rudd the Dud….(and you’ll have to excuse the language – it’s not mine, it’s the PMs) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVEaHcyMesQ

    • Fasab,
      Generalizations are dangerous. After all, what happens when one generalizes generalizations. Simply put, generalizations can take one further and further from the truth, and eventually reaching the point of being wrong.

  10. That is what is so frustratingly wrong with our political system–although not just in our country, of course. There can’t be an investment in problem-solving if the only real goal is retaining power. We have a few situations in California politics right now that are disgustingly illustrative of abuse of power. I’m sure we don’t have a lock on it, however! History is full of these examples, and we can at least count on consistency, right? I enjoyed your definitions!

    • Debra,
      I imagine its true more often than not – especially during polarization period as we have today. But agree with you that history is full of examples, thus maybe this post explains the way it has always been.

      As for the definitions, thank you Merriam-Webster.

  11. I’m glad that knowledge and power doesn’t always walk hand in hand, but knowledge can give power – and most of the time is it works out just fine and used in a great way. You don’t have to have knowledge to become a politicians – but that doesn’t mean that they are stupid … but it gives them power and that it’s so wrong.
    In the Northern Ireland Assembly (government) their education minister, didn’t even finish … the primary school ????????
    What is all that about – and I’m sure there is more politicians that don’t have a clue what they are doing.

    • Viveka,
      Knowledge and power is an interesting combination. To an individual, knowledge is a power force that can be an important personal factor. On the other hand, I (like you) am looking at power from the position of influence on a society … thus the questionable use of power in decision making.

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