Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

"Knowledge is power"

  1. Nov 28, 2014 #1
    I disagree.

    Knowledge is energy. The use of knowledge is power. Knowledge is a potential energy.

    Anyone agree/disagree?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 28, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You have taken a well understood colloquial phrase and subjected it to an unnecessary analysis, and no, I don't agree. I believe the colloquial phrase is most commonly understood to mean that the possession of information is the POTENTIAL ability to exercise power over others and in that sense, having the knowledge gives you the power.
  4. Nov 28, 2014 #3
    I've had teachers post that quote in their class and speak of it as truth taken at face value. I didn't consider it as a colloquialism, in which case you could interpret it in numerous ways.
  5. Nov 28, 2014 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    A bit of history on this phrase, from the 1970's Schoolhouse Rock

  6. Nov 28, 2014 #5
    I prefer, "Knowledge is Freedom".
  7. Nov 28, 2014 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    And one about "function," which I suppose is somewhat relevant to the OP:

    And Famly Guy parodies

  8. Dec 1, 2014 #7
    Literally, the quote comes from scientia potentia est, by Sir Francis Bacon, and it is essentially an argument that heresy and atheism are "rebellion and mutiny" against his god and therefore stupid, and stupidity is a weakness of character.

    So basically it pretty much comes from a Kirk Cameron -esque dig on atheists, but in Latin.

    In the colloquial meaning of the phrase, I agree, and it's unfortunate that I can't use the Latin phrase as a personal motto due to its original meaning. Knowledge IS power, especially in the modern world. If you're smart, you can get a better job: you get hired as a doctor or engineer because you know things about medicine or technology, and money gives you the power to do things you want. If your country has better scientists and engineers, you will have better technology, and that means everything from more comfortable living to more powerful weapons of war.
  9. Dec 9, 2014 #8
    If everything I know came from my environment why should I use it to "empower" myself, particularly when it never really belonged to me in the first place? Without my environment I would know nothing.

    So I guess I disagree. Knowledge brings responsibilities.
  10. Dec 9, 2014 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    People can "disagree" all they want. Knowledge is power in the context in which the phrase is used. No amount of analyzing will change that. That fact doesn't mean that knowledge isn't other things too.
  11. Dec 10, 2014 #10
    Took a sample of one, and all respondents agree that "knowledge is power" sounds better.
  12. Dec 10, 2014 #11
    does this mean if you use too much knowledge you will lose it?
  13. Dec 11, 2014 #12
    In the end its just a matter of perspective/situation. I was trying to concretize knowledge as an empiriometric measurement. Thinking of it as a capacity, then the use of it as the power, again similar to a physical quantity such as electrical energy and power delivery. I'm not trying to deface a phrase thats been around forever, just challenging its capacity for analogy.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook