Information and Knowledge


I want to mention briefly some of the educational methods used to-day which in effect further discourage original thinking. One is the emphasis on knowledge of facts, or I should rather say on information.

The pathetic superstition prevails that by knowing more and more facts one arrives at knowledge of reality.

Hundreds of scattered and unrelated facts are dumped into the heads of students; their time and energy are taken up by learning more and more facts so that there is little left for thinking.

To be sure, thinking without a knowledge of facts remains empty and fictitious; but "information" alone can be just as much of an obstacle to thinking as the lack of it.

[Erich Fromm]
The Fear of Freedom, p.213-14

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In the spectacular society, knowledge is not used anymore to question, analyze, resolve contradictions, but to assuage reality.

Taken from Wikipedia page on Situationist International: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situationist_International


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Because of the long hysteresis of the mode of acquisition, the same educational qualifications may guarantee quite different relations to culture - but decreasingly so, as one rises in the educational hierarchy and as more value comes to be set on ways of using knowledge and less on merely knowing.

[Pierre Bourdieu]
Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, p.80

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J.F. - Yes. Thanks to the emergence of science, the conviction that something exists that we can call objective became more widely accessible. This was knowledge open to everyone, not only the sage.

M. - Spiritual knowledge is open to everyone willing to take the trouble to explore it. That's how you become a sage. Otherwise, 'objective' knowledge, immediately accessible to anyone without them putting any effort into it themselves, can only be knowledge's lowest common denominator. You could call it a quantitative approach rather than a qualitative one.

[Jean-Francois Revel & Matthieu Ricard]
The Monk and the Philosopher, p.327

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It's true that biology and theoretical physics have brought us some fascinating knowledge about the origins of life and the formation of the universe. But does knowing such things help us elucidate the basic mechanisms of happiness and suffering?

It's important not to lose sight of the goals that we set ourselves. To know the exact shape and dimensions of the Earth is undeniably progress. But whether it's round or flat doesn't make a great deal of difference to the meaning of existence. Whatever progress is made in medicine, we can only temporarily treat sufferings that never stop coming back, and culminate in death.

We can end a conflict, or a war, but there will always be more, unless people's minds change.

[Matthieu Ricard]
The Monk and the Philosopher, p.17

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Science covers such a vast field of discovery that it's captivated the interest and energy of many of the brightest minds of our times. It's like a never-ending gold rush.

The risk of science, real science, is that it gets too carried away by its analytical momentum and goes too far, so that knowledge gets too horizontally spread out. There's an Arab proverb that says once you begin counting you'll never be able to stop.

[Matthieu Ricard]
The Monk and the Philosopher, p.218

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Information is not knowledge.

It is of no importance whatsoever that one should remember the date of Caesar's death or the date of the Battle of Waterloo. One might be able to answer every question in the encyclopedia and yet have no knowledge.

A student who received a low intelligence rating because he could not remember the name of the river which flowed into the Caspian Sea, and the capital of Finland, might be consoled by the probability that Shakespeare or Dickens might also not be able to answer those questions.

[...] To remember and repeat, through experimentation, reasoning and assembling other brain recordings of observed effects, does not constitute knowledge. It but indicates cleverness.

This highly technical world of many skills is very much more the result of great cleverness in the assembling of observed effects of motion than it is the result of knowledge.

[Lao Russell]
God Will Work With You But Not For You, p. 57

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When the world begins to acquire knowledge it will show the effects of it in human relations instead of chemical and metallurgical relations.

The human race has not yet acquired sufficient knowledge to know the law which makes it possible for man to live with man - or to know the relation of woman to man. It is too concerned with the application of the many physical laws to the relation of physical matter to give thought to God's one and only law which governs spiritual relations.

[Lao Russell]
God Will Work With You But Not For You, p. 57-8

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 DEFINITION of 'Fiat Money'

Currency that a government has declared to be legal tender, but is not backed by a physical commodity.

The value of fiat money is derived from the relationship between supply and demand rather than the value of the material that the money is made of. Historically, most currencies were based on physical commodities such as gold or silver, but fiat money is based solely on faith. 

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The word education is widely used and highly valued in American society, but it is suspect in Amish society.

Education to them signifies self-advancement, independence, obtaining power over others, and disregard for the simple life.

True education, by Amish standards, is "the cultivation of humility, simple living, and submission to the will of God."

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 171

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The Amish are committed to the assumption that learning should be practical, related to life, and should lead to social responsibility. They hold that schooling that is committed primarily to abstract and analytical learning is useless to them.

Social cohesiveness, rather than intellectual creativity or critical analysis, is the goal of Amish schooling.

Amish education emphasizes cooperation, responsibility, and humility. Facts that are learned, are learned thoroughly.

Study, reasoning, exegesis, and record-keeping lead to a way of thinking that is primarily linear in emphasis. Instead of collective unity there is a multiplicity of thought, which leads to individualistic revelations and knowledge.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 377, 390

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Related posts:-
Having, to hide from Being
Learning Environments
Experiential Education
Young and Free
The Earth's the Limit
Lost Tribe
Rooted in blood and soil
Knowing your place
Life amongst the rubble
Welcome to La-La Land 
The Tyranny of Novelty
Tasteful Distance

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