I think many of us love the quote from Francis Bacon: “Knowledge is power.” Clearly, knowledge is a very high value. The road to success and happiness is paved with knowledge. Knowledge is one of the highest values of any reasoning mind.
But I realized some years ago that it’s not sufficient. It’s correct and deeply understood knowledge that’s power, not merely any kind of knowledge.
Then I took this one step further. There are a lot of very knowledgeable, smart people around, but that’s not sufficient either. Nothing happens until knowledge is applied. So, I came up with a final formulation: The correct knowledge, applied, is power.
2 thoughts on “Power”
I was intrigued with your comment on power = correct knowledge applied. An interesting variant on the critique of rationalism.
I have been fighting this particular disease infecting young lawyers ever since computerized legal research services became ubiquitous. It is the intellectual cancer afflicting almost all young lawyers.
It is possible (but hideously expensive) to instantaneously search legal sources by text or legal concept. Young lawyers have never known a time when they could not locate a ‘fact’ with even a poorly written Boolean search. This promiscuity in ‘finding’ leads them to wrongly assume that once they have ‘found,’ what they’ve found is the ‘answer.’
It’s not just laziness, it’s intellectual disability. The answer is no better than the question. If the question is wrong, the correct answer to it is worthless. And abstract answers are no better than abstract questions.
The question for lawyers should always be ‘what knowledge is necessary to conceive a right solution to an issue/problem?’ Because the law is far from some completely consistent, cohesive, rational body of knowledge, failure to first conceive the solution results almost always in bad questions reifying bad answers.
I am considered a difficult and sometimes frustrating mentor by the young lawyers because I absolutely prohibit the use of electronic legal research (term/concept searches) until that assigned lawyer first conceives a rational solution and can defend it to me logically. Only after we have agreed that the solution is good is that lawyer permitted to go seek case/statutory/commentary support for it. That support most always exists or can itself be built.
The younger folks now, lawyers included, believe data is knowledge. Of course it isn’t any such thing. It’s just detritus until it can be related rationally to something and to a solution.
It comes down to the virtue of productiveness as the full state of mind-body integration.