Saturday, December 31, 2016

Knowledge and Power

Knowledge and Power.

Knowledge is not power.  Knowledge is the complement of power. Knowledge without power is impotent.  Power without knowledge- is worse.  Knowledge and power are different things, which together can combine to achieve great purpose.

Knowledge serves as a multiplier of power.  Applicable knowledge can greatly increase the effectiveness of power. Conversely, power applied without the proper knowledge will at best be wastefully and inefficiently used. The effect of the application of that power will be distorted from and diminished from its intention.  The situation resulting from such an application of power may even be worse than if that power had never been applied at all.   Even when power badly applied does achieve its goal, the expense of it applied without proper knowledge will be much greater than necessary, the result invariably inferior, and the consequential damage due to those aspects of that power misapplied may be extensive.  Power will be wasted,    Its sources may be compromised.  Its objectives may be irretrievably lost. 

The more demanding the situation, the greater the constraints, the greater the requirements for knowledge.  And the greater the consequences of ignorance.

Against this, knowledge comes at a cost, and this cost rises with the increase in the quantity and quality of knowledge acquired, and may become prohibitive. Situations arise, therefore, where the costs of the knowledge necessary for the proper application of  power, and the costs involved in the actual application of that power, exceed the ability of the actor to bear. These costs may even exceed the return on even judiciously applied power.

Knowledge is not to be confused with information. Knowledge comes with the ability to weigh information, and properly weighed information contributes to knowledge, and thus, recursively, to the ability to properly weigh information.  Conversely, improperly weighed information may actually detract from knowledge, and, recursively, reduces the ability to properly weigh information, and thus, the ability to acquire knowledge.

As a multiplier of power, proper knowledge of how to apply power will amplify that power.  However, one of the most important uses of knowledge is to know when to apply power.  And when not to.

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