The importance and value of knowledge, its advantages and disadvantages are a complicated topic, which has been debated upon from the ancient times and up to our days. In my opinion, gaining knowledge is one of the most important activities in an individual’s life. Even though knowledge is often forced upon people, especially children, and due to the deficiency of the human mind, knowledge is biased. The benefits of knowledge overbalance its disadvantages. Learning brings pleasure since curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge are in human nature, and knowledge ensures progress and advancement in various spheres of human life.
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Knowledge is the Solution of Problems
“Knowledge is power,” Kofi Annan has once said. “Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family” (Black 94). The former Secretary-General of the United Nations has accurately emphasized the primary benefit of knowledge: it enables us to solve our problems and ensures a continuous advancement. From the very dawn of humanity, knowledge was the only tool people could use to secure convenient living for themselves. Accumulation of knowledge helped prehistoric people to develop hunting skills and save themselves from hunger.
Then, gathering knowledge and sharing it with the younger generations allowed humanity to create more advanced ways of receiving food. Thank the existence of knowledge and the ability to share it. People managed to evolve from wild creatures, who feared thunders and trembled when seeing a comet, to the creators of advanced technologies, who can influence weather and explore the cosmos. Instead of climbing on trees, humans travel on machines over cosmos, water, air, and ground. Medical knowledge allowed humans to eliminate the diseases that once we’re able to kill hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover, even the loss of a limb now can be helped: thank the sophisticated technologies of today, a handless boy can receive a robotic hand forged by a 3D printer (You par. 1). So, knowledge solves our problems, both personal and global ones; knowledge liberates us from fear and weakness, ensures our safety, feeds, and cures us.
Knowledge is Pleasure
It was already mentioned that knowledge has practical benefits. It is necessary to admit that not all of its advantages are directly practical; knowledge also brings pleasure. To my strong conviction, the strive to pursue knowledge is embedded in human nature, and the satisfaction of this need brings a person pleasure. Such a statement may cause an ironical remark considering the fact that many people do not demonstrate a desire to pursue knowledge. However, if we observe young children whose personalities are on the stage of formation, we will notice that they are driven by curiosity.
Curiosity encourages them to ask questions, taste things, try to break them, and see what is inside, try to understand how toys work. It is a natural curiosity that exists in every human being. Human curiosity was studied by many prominent scientists and acknowledged as an important factor influencing human behavior (Spielberger and Starr 221-222). It is pure interest and pleasure from learning rather than some practical considerations that drive scientists to make discoveries. When Michael Faraday was discovering the properties of electricity, he hardly imagined trams and computers. He was pursuing knowledge because he was interested (Russell 87). So, apart from practical benefits, knowledge offers a different advantage: satisfaction of our ancient urge, our need to know and learn. This benefit is no less important than a technical advantage. In fact, these two benefits are strongly united.
Knowledge Is Mandatory
Despite the obvious benefits of knowledge, strong arguments can be drawn to emphasize the disadvantages, which it brings. One such argument is that nowadays, knowledge has become mandatory, particularly for children. Kids are taken at an early age, put into the education system, and forced to memorize and process a considerable amount of knowledge, which humanity has been producing for thousands of years.
Moreover, the information that they get relates to a wide variety of fields, which makes it difficult to memorize and concentrate. Honestly, there is very little possibility that one young person would ever need and be able to operate extensive information from the fields of history, astronomy, chemistry, and statistics at the same time and benefit from it. Such an approach has made knowledge an instrument of suppression rather than a tool of advancement.
To this objection, a similarly strong response can be formed. First, there is no way to predict which field of knowledge would be beneficial and useful for a child, so they have to gain knowledge in various fields. What is far more important, cognitive skills form at an early age; it is a psychological fact (McCartney and Phillips 27). Therefore, however unfortunate it may seem, if a person is not encouraged (or forced) to study and gain knowledge in childhood, there will be no way for them to become knowledgeable, responsible, competent adults.
Knowledge Is Biased
According to one more objection, the entire process of collecting knowledge, which is usually called science in a general sense, is heavily biased. A human being is unable to avoid bias by nature; since knowledge derives from the human mind, it is biased by default. Additionally, humans can be biased not only due to some defect of the human mind but on purpose. Humanity has seen enough scientists, who produced inaccurate results to benefit from it, to please the rulers or to shame each other. Every year some assumptions of the previous years are proclaimed wrong, and it will most likely never end.
Hence, knowledge, or at least the way in which humanity gathers it, is biased. This statement can by no means be proven untrue; of course, knowledge is biased. Nevertheless, it must be said that ignorance is biased a thousand times more. Ignorance makes people rely on irrelevant and even dangerous assumptions. Ignorance encourages some groups of individuals to believe and spread stereotypes about other groups. What is more, ignorance forces people to reject what is beneficial for them. For instance, despite the fact that the invention of genetically modified crops allows humanity to grow more vegetables and make them resistant to plant diseases, ignorant people protest against this invention (“Don’t Succumb to Prejudice Against Genetically Modified Crops: Manmohan Singh” par. 1-3). Even considering all the bias of knowledge, it is necessary to admit that ignorance is much worse. Therefore, the disadvantages of knowledge do not overbalance its advantages.
Knowledge is a valuable reserve for any individual. While gathering knowledge is often presented as a mandatory activity, and knowledge is biased, its advantages overweight the disadvantages. Due to their natural curiosity, people strive to gain knowledge. Additionally, knowledge ensures progress and advancement in various spheres of human life.
Black, Francis. You Are Not Alone: Personal Stories on Surviving the Impact of Addiction. Dublin, Ireland: Hachette Books Ireland, 2011. Print.
“Don’t Succumb to Prejudice Against Genetically Modified Crops: Manmohan Singh.” The Economic Times. 2014. The Economic Times. Web.
McCartney, Kathleen, and Deborah Phillips. Blackwell Handbook of Early Childhood Development. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.
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Russell, Colin A. Michael Faraday: Physics and Faith. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 2000. Print.
Spielberger, Charles D., and Laura M. Starr. “Curiosity and Exploratory Behavior.” Motivation: Theory and Research. Ed. O’Neil and Drillings. New York City, New York: Routledge, 2009. 221-244. Print.
You, Tracy. “Heart-Warming Moment: Six-Year-Old Boy Is Given a 3D Printed Hand as Children’s Day Gift After Losing His Fingers in Horrific Traffic Accident.” Daily Mail, 2015. Mail Online. Web.