Is knowledge always a good thing?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, May 13, 2013.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Can you think of situations where knowing something might be bad for you or someone else? How about knowing when and how you are going to die? Would you want to know that? I don't think I would.
     
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  3. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    Many people face that dilemma every day, they are on their death beds dying from some disease or old age. So they know either when or close to when they are going to die and must live with that until they are set free from their ailments. Sometimes it is good to know so that you can get your accounts in order and make a will then see those who you want to see before you pass. Say that you have been having a disagreement for many years with your brother and now, that you know you are dying, want to make up with him before your demise.
     
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  5. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    Calling knowledge "good" or "bad" is same as debating whether gravity is good or bad.

    Knowledge is the only force for humans to tackle with the natural forces. Therefore, knowledge is not only good, but it is also a necessity, an ultimate tool for human survival on this planet and beyond. Call a knife as "bad" since one can kill with this tool; yet knife can also be used for slicing a loaf, shaping other objects, skinning the food, etc.
     
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Somebody else's shameful or guilty secret can be burdensome, especially if you can't help them. The real identity of someone who doesn't want it known; how much your boss is padding his expense accounts, a gangster's home address, your mother-in-law's real age, your best friend's infidelity.... There are lots of things it's better not to know.

    I don't just want to know that; i want to decide and engineer that.
     
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Humans have to "tackle the forces of nature?" Why can't they just adapt to them and live with them? Your argument for knowledge seems to take it to be some kind of weapon we need to overpower nature. But who says we need to do that? What if the great lesson of life isn't about having control but about letting go?
     
  9. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Getting your affairs in order before the deadline might turn you into an ocd basket case otoh. More and more ways of spending your borrowed time convincing yourself you have control in the face of the one fact you have no control over at all. I even see me composing a bucket list of all the things I need to do before I die. I don't want live like that. I don't want to live in reference to some future date. I prefer to take each day naturally as it is and to live in the moment for it's own sake. And part of doin that is the uncertainty that I may go at ANY time. Living under the shadow of a death sentence would force me to be something I'm not. And then there's the gnawing dread I'd feel as the date drew near. No..I want nothing to do with knowing that.
     
  10. Nashton Registered Member

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    Good point, baftan. The idea that our lives would be better in ignorance of potential "evils" is a very powerful one, just think about the Amish that build their entire society around that ideology.

    I think that another form of knowledge that is hard to live with is that of an inconvenient truth. The idea that you love somebody who doesn't love you can be an emotionally leveling inconvenient truth. Magical Realist, your idea of knowing your own death would fall under an inconvenient truth.

    I can't help but link this subject to common literary conventions in a tragedy. "She could not be with him now that she knew the truth."

    But I believe the real concern is not what we know, but how we go about knowing it. We know how to split an atom, do we use it for bombs or energy? We know our friends weaknesses, do we exploit them or do we protect them?
     
  11. baftan ******* Valued Senior Member

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    Nature and natural forces simply don't care, because they don't have any consciousness, any plan or anything like that. But we do care, we have plans, in its basic form we "consciously" want to survive. These two opposing forms of ontology necessarily contradicts to each other. We didn't like cold, being eaten by wild animals and many other nasty experiences and we have created "artificial" alongside its wide range of technologies. For some unknown reason, "nature" represents a lovey-dovey environment for modern perception: of course, until we hit by another natural disaster, deadly disease or a biological malfunction/illness, or a meteor, just name it. The biggest killer is, and has always been the nature. Check out the statistics of human deaths, what cause occupies the top of the list? Nature. All our hostilities, wars, human caused accidents, stupidity, etc. can not be a match to natural headaches.

    If our ancestors had constructed a form of harmony with nature we would have probably been extinct by now, or still painting the cave walls. Do not forget dinosaurs, do not forget Neanderthals, never. The entire history of humanity can be read as step by step creation of the artificial breathing space, both physically and mentally. "Knowledge" has been created by humans and only by humans; I'm not talking about some chimpanzee skill to use some stick to collects some ants or to operate a piece of stone to crack some nuts. I'm talking about proper, coded knowledge of nature, written, formulated, experienced and passed from generation to generation for thousands of years. We have become what we are due to this knowledge; nothing else; no nature, no divine help, no aliens, nothing else. We have artificially constructed ourselves. And of course we will defend what we created against the number one carelessness, aka "nature".

    You are asking this question: "Who says we need to do that?" Your answer is simply "nature", and the path is the history of being human. Knowledge regime is not ignoring the nature; quite opposite: taking nature very seriously, more serious than any creature has ever taken.
     
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    I don't agree. I see man as very much a part of nature and not something outside of it opposed to it. Evolution itself IS nature. It got us to where we are today long before there was anything like human knowledge as you define it. So obviously nature works to our advantage sometimes too. Knowledge itself is nature if we take information storage in its most general sense of biological order and genetics. We are simply carrying the torch that nature has gifted us with. It would bode ill for us if we only used that torch to burn all our bridges behind us.
     
  13. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Just to have some fun with this, maybe. If we're talking about actual knowledge rather than just educated guesswork, then you're essentially immortal until that time. It doesn't necessarily exempt one from suffering serious injury of course, but I imagine that the knowledge that one will absolutely not die for, say, the next 20 years or so, might be somewhat liberating.
     
  14. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    Me finding out the uk gov uses electronic mind control weapons on people 21 years ago woke me up. Maybe if that never happened i would of lived my adult life in ignorance.

    But i am glad i found it out, although since everyday of my life has been ruined by these people, so what. I am glad i found out.

    But maybe finding out stuff changes you, and of course ignorance is bliss if you want that, but i prefer to know what is going on as much as any human can in the general public.

    Knowledge is power definitely(as they find it harder to brainwash people who find out stuff), thats why they give you lies after lies.

    I am glad what they did to me 21 years ago in school, and me finding out that no human is worth any of my time as they are all mostly out to destroy others. Before that i may of seen the world like you people, but not after. I am glad i see the world closer to what it is, rather than the way you see people with rose tinted glasses most of you. I see people as someone out to destroy others as much as they can, and have nothing to do with them.

    My version of reality is closer to the real one than most of the publics. If you have not found out anything secret in life, i just mostly ignore what the person says today, as i have no need in gossip.

    Trolls and gossip does not interest me, like most people love it.
     
  15. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    And that is your right to choose to do whatever you want to do.

    I just brought up a few examples of what others, NOT SPECIFICALLY YOU, would do if they new when they were going to die. That is what you asked about isn't it?

    As for your other question pertaining to knowledge being a good thing, it depends upon how YOU use it. Many use knowledge to help themselves and others in living and working together. Knowledge can be a double edge sword, it can help and hurt, it depends how YOU use it.
     
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    So I'm learning here that while knowledge IS important, it may not be AS important as the wisdom of how we use it. Not that that necessarily makes the knowledge a bad thing if we misuse it. Case in point: an ex-surgeon who turns into an artistic serial killer. All his medical knowledge and skill now used to meticulously slice and suture bodies into "works of art." The knowledge remains what it was. How it is USED becomes a moral problem.

    But there's another sense in which knowledge may be bad. Take irrelevant knowledge. A knowledge of events that don't pertain to you and over which you have no control. What is the effect of this sort of knowledge? A sense of helplessness and anxiety that you would not normally have? See the evening news for breaking details! The question is: do we really NEED to know so much about the events of the world? And how does this information overload impact our lives?
     
  17. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    The fear of becoming a comatose paraplegic would be sufficient enough for me not to find knowledge of my death date TOO liberating. Wouldn't that make a great twilight zone episode though? A man learns he is immortal. Goes out the next day and takes up hanggliding. Then ends up a comatose paraplegic! Oh the cruel irony!
     
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    The OP WAS a question about what you specifically would want and do. But fine, if you want to speculate on what others might want, then go right ahead. It's always fun to speculate about third person situations that don't involve you in the least.
     
  19. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    Try to remember those things that you can't have any control over , you can't be subject to them because you had no control. You can't help everyone but you can help yourself and those around you. There's only so much anyone can do, just realize that and move on with life. Knowing someone was hurt in an auto accident you watch on TV doesn't mean you shouldn't feel sorry for them but never should you feel that you could have anything to do with that accident or could have prevented it either.
     
  20. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    I was not speculating, that is what my mother did, my uncle did and my friend did.
     
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    There may be an advantage in this continuous enlargement of our concerns by the media beyond what happens to us in our own lives. A bonding with the human race in general that enforces our sense of being part of larger community of beings and "all in this together" so to speak. In this sense knowledge of remote events not really affecting us DOES involve us because we all share in the human condition. What happens to one of us can happen to any of us. And this wariness may end up benefiting everyone in the long run.
     
  22. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes but you asked if we should feel responsible for what others go through, not whether or not we can't or can learn from others problems.
     
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Really? Where did I ask that? And why do I not have the right to suggest alternative viewpoints on the issue of whether knowledge can be bad?
     

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