Knowledge Confers Power on Man Essay

Outline

  • Power, an instinct of man
  • Wrong notion of power associating with the strong
  • To know the secret of a thing is to control that thing
  • The victory in war depends on swiftness of movement, strength of will
  • The role of new weapon in war
  • The difference between the ancient man awed by ghosts, gods and the modern man controlling the natural forces
  • Science of medicine
  • The art of leadership
  • Use of modern techniques in agriculture
  • Science of psychology enables man to control his impulses.

It was Bacon, the great essayist who said that knowledge confers power on man.

Men always want power, power over things, power over othermen and power over themselves. The instinct for power is a fundamental instinct. Man can never rest until he has extended his power, and the history of civilization is, indeed, the history of man’s conquest, the extension of his power in different spheres.

Generally we think that power belongs to the strong. If two wrestlers fight, we think that the stronger will win; in a battle the country with the larger army expects that it will be victorious. But a little reflection will make it clear that this is not so. Strength does play a part, but it is of no weight when pitted against knowledge. When we know the secrets of a thing, we can exercise control over it, because we know the way in which it can be moved. Strength without knowledge is blind. A blind giant cannot cope with a man who has sharp eyes.

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In warfare, the side with a strong army has its advantages no doubt, but it will prove ineffective against a leader equipped with better knowledge of the secret of warfare., Take Alexander, for example, he defeated vast armies with only a band of Greek soldiers who had to fight away from their homeland. We say that this was due to Alexander’s genius or his Generalship. But what was this genius or Generalship! It laid in swiftness of movement, strength of will and some others virtues. But Alexander’s principal virtue was knowledge – knowledge of his own men, knowledge of the Country of his enemy and his strength, knowledge of the tactics and strategy of warfare. This is the ultimate secret of success in all warfare. Other factors play their part, but knowledge is supreme.

The fortunes of battles have in all ages been determined by the part played by new weapons. When gunpowder was invented, it made short work of armies fighting with swords and spears. The last Great War was brought to a close by the dropping of atom bombs. The history of modern warfare is to a large extent the history of new weapons from gunpowder to the atom bomb – and these inventions are only indications of man’s knowledge of the secrets of destruction.

How knowledge leads to power is best seen in man’s in-creasing control over forces of nature. In primitive times man had no knowledge of nature and thought that the trees and the hills were inhabited by spirits and fairies. He believed in ghosts and gods and was himself inert and powerless. But now man knows many of the mysteries of nature, and his knowledge is reflected in his daily growing power over natural forces. By controlling electricity man has made lightning his salve; he now floats over oceans and flies in the air. Man no longer looks with wonder and fear at a waterfall: he now dams it and converts the waterpower to energy that irrigates his fields and runs his mills and factories.

Another valuable contribution, which that’s knowledge has made to his power, is found in the science of medicine. In ancient times people thought that diseases were due to the malign influence of spirits and stars, and they would go to magicians or try to appease the gods. But now, an a-days man tries to find the causes of diseases inside the body and to trace them to purely material factors. This knowledge of the causes of diseases and also the properties of things has led to wonderful advances in the science of medicine. Man has not yet been able to control all diseases, but he has conquered many of them and has added to his longevity. This is possibly the most beneficent aspect of man’s knowledge.

Knowledge helps men not only to control the forces of nature but also to exercise power over other men. Politics is largely the art by means of which some men control others, and they do so chiefly through knowledge of the secrets of human character. We see this not merely in the field of politics but also in our daily social contacts. The leader is one who possesses strength of will and capacity for taking the initiative, but he is pre-eminently the man who knows other men. Brutus, a noble idealist, kills Caesar and delivers a lofty speech before the Roman mob. He has little insight into human character and allows Caesar’s friend Antony to make a speech after he himself has left the scene. The mob praised Brutus but did not understand the significance of his speech. Antony has knowledge of men and rather than talk of principles, he makes a speech gradually inflaming their passions and soon the mob is under his control.

The increase in power through the acquisition of knowledge is seen in every branch of human activity. Man no longer cultivates fields in a blind manner. The science is giving him knowledge of the properties of soil, and this enables him to produce increased quantities of food and other things. He studies even the way of animals and learns to control them better than his forefathers. Whether it is the small insects eating up his crops or the wild beasts in the jungles, man is acquiring knowledge of all animals and is learning to protect himself against them. Man is now the ruler of the kingdom of nature and the kingdom of animals because he has acquired knowledge of them.

Man’s most recent achievement is the increasing power he has established over himself through knowledge. This knowledge is being given to him by the science of psychology, which analyses emotions, impulses, reasoning and even dreams. This science goes beyond consciousness into the region of the unconscious. This enables man to control his impulses and organize his mental powers. Insanity was originally supposed to be beyond man’s control and attributed to the gods. But psychology has shown that insanity is connected with repression, the cause of insanity will be removed and the patient will become normal. This is, in a sense, the most wonderful of man’s discoveries, and it will, in future, not only make man more powerful but also a better and more rational creature.

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