Monday Aphorism: Who Owns Knowledge?

photo by NASA

They read and think and believe, worship the words of whomever they have chosen to believe. He, she, the one they believe, does that one own knowledge?

I went, yesterday, to an event they called a Conference, but which was more like a pep rally. It was a meeting of those who wanted to know more, of those who already believed or already thought they knew it all, come together to cheer one another and the fact that they were there.

The introductory speeches lacked any ideas or questions or sense of inquiry. Instead, it was a celebration of those who controlled the field of the relationships between humans and animals. They were mostly clinicians worried about, concerned about what might go wrong.

They said who they were, who they had studied with, which was the group who would run things, who would own the field. Not who owns the knowledge? But, who owns knowledge?

  • Augustinganley

    Your question strikes me as painfully relevant.

    That we live in an age where proprietors, armed with contracts and the threat of violence, have corralled knowledge, the kine of collective memory: is this just another tragedy of the commons? Who laments the privatization of ideas? Who sees this privatization as an indicator of sickness?

    If someone, some group, some network, owns knowledge, then who owns the thoughts that constitute it? Who owns the fields? Who owns the tanks? Who owns the plains?

    Who owns the Spring? The Stream? The River?

    The Cities? The Bluffs? Who owns the Islands?

    Who owns Coal? Oil? Nuclear Decay?

    The Mounds? The Soil? Who owns our own Fall?

    These questions are not asked in jest. People are laying claim to every nook and cranny of the planet. Every one of these people surely has a name and a face. Every one of them falls asleep at night. I’m sure they tell themselves stories before bed that explain why it’s good to own sacred things. Maybe these stories help them dream of life as plunder.

    Would this world be healthier and more interconnected if we treated these “resources” as vital organs to be cared for and exercised rather than as mere instruments to be plucked and blowed whenever and however we want? Would this world be any less sick if we gave up on our beliefs in entitlement?

    I think the links at the bottom of each of your post say so much. Share, tweet, share, share.

  • Karl Rogers

    Well said, Harvey.

    To put my 10 cents worth in, briefly, the problem is that the formula knowledge=power has been reversed to power=knowledge. Through the media, narrowcasting (shaping news and information in accordance with the prejudices of the target audience,) and the fragmentation of the Internet, wherein people use the sites that reinforce their beliefs and prejudices, knowledge has become subordinate to ideology. Critique is seen as an attack, to be evaulated in terms of who says it and which ideology they subscribe to.

    Epistemology (the study of the rules by which something can be considered knowledge) has quite simply become swept away by the power to control media, itself dominated by the tyranny of the bottom line. Power=knowledge.

    What we are witnessing is a civil war of minds…. the battle for the construction of a totalitarian worldview.

  • http://twitter.com/danlatorre Daniel Latorre

    Karl, I heard about your new book coming out (“Debunking Glenn Beck: How to Save America from Media Pundits and Propagandists”) and thought this post and your comment are a good place to share this with you… Bill Moyers on the US Right wing and Agnotology: “the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt”. http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/25/moyers_winship_npr