Social Question

prolificus's avatar

How does gaining knowledge benefit us if we do not change or grow as a result of learning new information?

Asked by prolificus (6285 points ) April 19th, 2010

Every day, we are inundated with information having varying degrees of usefulness. It seems as if we have all the knowledge in the world at our finger tips. Knowledge has the capacity to improve communities, solve major and minor problems, and to positively change our lives. Without knowledge, we would not have the necessary intellectual resources to make decisions or function in our daily tasks.

If we as a collective (not just on Fluther, but in any collective society) continue to absorb, exchange, and produce knowledge without having any substantively noticeable change or growth, what will we have gained by having increased knowledge?

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19 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Who is deciding that there is no growth? I see a lot of growth. I also see a lot of older citizens still learning – something not so common a decade or two back.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Sometimes change is small, incremental, and largely unnoticed. Not everyone adapts, many ignore it until directly impacted, and others adapt with the thought of “Well of course I do this, doesn’t everyone?”. Also the implications that seem obvious to an individual or small group aren’t always so obvious or in some cases don’t apply to a larger group. Additionally what is “known”, isn’t always right or good or suitable for the majority, rapid adoption can be dangerous, not to mention expensive in terms of funds, materials, lives, or even just good will.

Change occurs continually, you see it every day or perhaps you don’t. But just because it isn’t obvious doesn’t mean it’s not there and the spread of knowledge is just one of many factors behind it.

prolificus's avatar

@DarkScribe – I’m not sure. I was thinking about this question today. There are many concepts I’ve learned in my studies of social science and multicultural education that make me wonder why certain things continue to exist after they’ve already been deemed by the collective as not good for society.

prolificus's avatar

@wonderingwhy – I agree. Change is constant. Yet, some things seem as if they are repetitive or stuck.

DarkScribe's avatar

@prolificus why certain things continue to exist after they’ve already been deemed by the collective as not good for society.

Aha, now we are talking about chocolate. Blame the women.

anartist's avatar

if nothing else, it passes the time.

prolificus's avatar

@DarkScribe – Ha. Why women?! Who are the major producers of chocolate? Aren’t they men?

marinelife's avatar

Who measures that there is no change and no growth? I think that premise is flawed.

prolificus's avatar

@marinelife – Thank you. How did you measure the quality of the premise?

DarkScribe's avatar

@prolificus Why women?! Who are the major producers of chocolate? Aren’t they men?

Producers maybe, but I have never met a guy who cared much one way or another about chocolate. Never even met one who would buy it for himself.

marinelife's avatar

@prolificus Well, I see change and growth all around me as people gain knowledge, thus I do not see how you can propose there is no change or growth.

Your_Majesty's avatar

We can decide and process the information we wish to absorb depends on your personal capacity and I don’t think your growth can impact you as a rational person.

prolificus's avatar

@marinelife – I’m not proposing change doesn’t occur. I’m saying IF we don’t change, what good does it do us to gain knowledge.

prolificus's avatar

Maybe another way to ask the question is this: What good is knowledge if it does not produce change or growth?

wonderingwhy's avatar

@prolificus I agree. Change is constant. Yet, some things seem as if they are repetitive or stuck.

One potential cause for this may be that society is changing and adapting to a new norm which makes those who don’t, for whatever reason, adapt become more apparent.

I’m saying IF we don’t change, what good does it do us to gain knowledge.

Not all knowledge necessitates change. Sometimes simply being aware of something is enough. And even when the knowledge seems to portend an obvious change, circumstances may dictate otherwise.

phillis's avatar

Ideally, it would create growth. But humans run primarily on emotion, despite gobs of effort put forth to convince each other to the contrary. So, we’re talking about two different animals here. One is knowledge (aka Intelligence), the other is emotion. This is why one does not necessarily equate to the other. The smartest person in the world is still a slave to their emotions, and can act or react most unreasonably to any number of situations, based on their perceptions of them.

If their perceptions are flawed in any way, it will show itself in their actions and reactions. With so many people being woefully dysfunctional, the only way to truly see growth is to approach the problem directly. Knowledge, not just of things in general, but specific for correcting perceptions, is the only knowledge that will ever equate the growth which (you are right) is largely non-existent.

Trillian's avatar

@prolificus I think that learning in and of itself is indicative of growth. As one continually processes new information, growth is inevitable. There are so many variables to growth and spiritual consciousness that it may be difficult to quantify, especially when applied to a given society, but I’m sure that it is taking place. One could see visible markers of some sort, such as waxing and waning popularity of certain types of music, television, etc.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There are noisy, segments of society that are determined to deny all of our growing knowledge base because their beliefs are not open to being challenged. They call themselves conservatives and they already know all that is true and worth knowing. They are economically advantaged. They have access to the strings of power and they use their connections to promote their tired old ideas and to crush those who dared to think differently. They use their churches to vilify those who believe differently than they do. Their representatives in government obstruct the fight for equal rights for others and even when they have been rejected by the populace, they block progress advanced by those who were elected instead.

They insist their values and beliefs are the only moral ones and everyone else are traitors and evil socialists bent on destroying the country.

As long as ignorance is promoted as truth and those with vision lack the courage to resist them, growth and progress will be painfully slow with far too many reversals.

Look at other countries where they capitalize on new knowledge by focusing on their goals and making them happen. Empires that refused to change have collapsed before. It will happen again where the people do not resist those who would continue to hold the country back and despoil its potential.

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