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?

1 thought on “Does Knowledge Have Inherent Value?”

  1. Does knowledge have inherent value? Sure. Exposing yourself to new ideas, contexts, and cultures helps you grow and likely makes you a more open-minded person. However, a better question may be how much value simple knowledge holds. Dormant knowledge contributes nothing to developing wisdom, which is the ultimate value of knowledge.

    On a tangent, I often hear people claim that knowledge is power. To that, I say, “Hogwash!” Knowledge, by itself, is latent power. For knowledge to be potent, somebody must use it.

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