Knowledge Increases Sorrow

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Muhammad Ali Fawad
Dr. Aamna Khalid
Writing and Communication (SS-100)
17 March 2013
“He That Increases Knowledge Increases Sorrow”
Philosophers have struggled with answering the question of the meaning of life since the time of Plato. In attempts to answer this question they, have deconstructed this idea and have, in the process, isolated the components of what makes life meaningful. Among the many components one is the drive to seek wisdom and knowledge in order to “avoid suffering caused by ignorance and finding happiness.” (Gyatso, The Meaning of Life: Buddhist Perspectives on Cause and Effect, 78). There are many discrepancies present as to what constitutes knowledge. Presently the terms ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’ have become increasingly interchangeable, because of which distinguishing between them can become confusing. Knowledge is most certainly not equivalent to information. Knowledge is gained by mindful and critical interpretation of information, whereas information is simply data arranged in meaningful patterns. In today’s society morbidity takes precedence over optimism as a result of which people hold ignorance in high regard. They are promoting an ideology that condones unawareness and thoughtlessness. Although many argue that the more you know, the more lament you are, and that having more knowledge makes you pessimistic, that is “Ignorance is bliss”. However this is not true, knowledge is in fact a positive force and induces optimism in people. This is because people who consider knowledge to be associated with negative ideas do not take into account that knowledgeable individuals are capable of taking informed and intelligent decisions, because they are aware of a multitude of ideas and facts. Being knowledgeable, people can work towards self-improvement because with knowledge comes open-mindedness and the ability to welcome new opinions. Lastly, knowledgeable individuals are able to drive society forward by sparking revolutions and creating social change.

First and foremost knowledgeable people can live their lives in a much more productive manner. They possess the ability to de-clutter their lives as they are able to systematically make better decisions, and in doing so reducing the time taken by them to do every day mundane tasks. The famous quote by Sir Francis Bacon “knowledge is power” (Meditationes Sacræ. De Hæresibus) is not as superficial as people may give it credit for. Power in this context refers to our ability to carry out our will and desire. Knowledgeable people give precedence to rationality as opposed to emotions while making decisions. This could potentially come in handy when you live in an urban warzone such as a place like Karachi. Consider this: you have been eagerly waiting to attend a particular event for a quite some time; you live in the suburbs and the event is taking place downtown. Just when you’re about to leave your house, you get word of a riot that broke out in the middle of your route. Now, if you were the ignorant person who never bothered to familiarize themselves with the roads of the city, you would only have two choices in the matter. Either you would have taken your chances by going through the riot (and hopefully not being slaughtered in the process) or think the situation through and convince yourself to, once again, stay indoors. If, however, you were the thoughtful and knowledgeable individual, you would already know a safer alternate route to take thereby not having to be a victim of the city’s instability.

Secondly, knowledgeable individuals are aware of a plethora of ideas and subjects, not restricting themselves to any one particular opinion or ideology. Their awareness spans throughout disciplines which may include the likes of science, philosophy, feminism and so on. Their knowledge of these subjects exposes them to a vast ocean of ideas and opinions which, as a result, help them grow as people. We humans are a materialistic bunch; rarely do...
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