Does Knowledge Have Inherent Value?

Knowing information can help in a variety of different ways. But does learning have value, even if you don’t use that knowledge in any way?

Kids attend school in their formative years, because learning is key to success. (Some kids don’t thrive in a formal learning situation, but that’s not important for this discussion.)

How is learning important?

For one, you have greater control over your situation. Knowledge helps you make better decisions, because you know more about how things work together, and how they fit into the world.

It also helps to not have to reinvent the wheel. There have been billions of people who have walked the earth before us, and in many cases, their knowledge is passed along to us. We can learn from their mistakes; no need to make them ourselves.

And learning can be fun. Experiencing an ‘Aha!’ moment when things click into place and you understand something for the first time feels good. Our brains evolved to solve problems, so using our big brains for their intended purpose feels right.

But what happens if you strip all that away?

A common complaint heard by teachers is “When am I going to use this?” And certainly, it is hard to accurately predict when something you learn might come in handy. You might very well be surprised at how often you call upon something seemingly unrelated in your life.

But what if it never comes? If you learn something that you cannot use in any way, is it still valuable? Or does knowledge only have meaning and utility in the way that it is applied?

Related questions: How do you learn? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? Why are we fascinated with the unknown? How do we know what we don’t know?

Input Or Output?

In any system, you have the raw materials that go in (input), and the finished product that comes out (output). Is one preferable to the other? Is one more important?

Share why if you wish.

Input Or Output?

Why Are We Sad When Someone We Don’t Know Dies?

When someone dies who had an impact on us — a beloved entertainer from our childhood, for example — we are sad, even though we don’t know the figure personally. But why should that be?

There is no doubt that there is an emotional reaction to the news of someone’s death. For people we know and interact with, that is understandable. That person’s place in our life is missing.

However, we also feel sadness for some we have never met. For instance, a musician who sang a particularly meaningful song, or an author who wrote a touchstone book.

But why? The meaningful part — the song, say, or the book — still exist. They are not being erased from the public consciousness, and in fact may gain some awareness from the creator’s death.

Is it that the person will no longer be creating anything that might move you similarly? Chances are, unless you are a completist, there is music from that artist you have never heard, or books by that author you have never read. There is still new material  — new to you, that is — to be discovered.

Perhaps it is general empathy. We are sad to hear of someone’s death. A life with value has come to an end, which is a cause for mourning.

And yet, people with value die every minute of every day. With eight billion people on the planet, we cannot mourn the passing of each and every one — we would live in a constant tsunami of sadness.

So why, then, are we affected by these individual deaths? Why are we not happy that the person existed in the first place, and created such impactful works of art? Why not take joy that our world can produce such people, who in turn create such meaning?

There is no doubt that we are saddened by the news of these passings. It seems obvious that the feelings exist. But is there a reason why? Why do we feel sad when someone we don’t know dies?

Related questions: Why are people afraid of death? What is the nature of celebrity? What makes you nostalgic? What are you sad about?

Trade School Or College?

With college prices climbing ever higher, there has been discussion about alternatives to a college education, like trade school. Do you think one is better than the other (including cost)?

Share why if you wish.

Trade School Or College?

Internship Or Volunteer Experience?

Which do you think is more valuable, an internship, or volunteer experience? Have you done either one?

Share why if you wish.

Internship Or Volunteer Experience?