Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, January 20th, 2018

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Having true knowledge is a blessing but it has to come after hard work and the desire to learn. There is no way of gaining knowledge other than through thorough search and discovery. First it is important to realize that a person needs to know, he needs to learn and the knowledge he has is insufficient. Only after this realization he gets in a position to start his search. He also needs to understand that the see of knowledge is boundless and he has to keep on searching for more. Moreover, true acquisition of knowledge must turn him into a compassionate being, not proud and superficial.
Unfortunately, we live in the age of the superficial. Everyone wants to show that he is learned, yet everyone is shallow. The methods of showing that one is learned are interesting. One of them is to ignore all that other know. Another is to ignore the common place, and concentrate on something odd and out-of-the way. This pretense of profound learning is the pitfall into which the journalist in particular always falls. He must write airily of the odd and remote in order to conceal his ignorance of the near and the classical. He has no Leisure. His profession makes him acquainted with a mass of miscellaneous and haphazard knowledge, which he is compelled to reproduce in his articles with an air of knowing everything. The journalist is tempted to be readable and so he always tries to be original and unusual.
For the superficial knowledge of our own times other things are responsible also. Men nowadays have become so mercenary that they are not willing to undertake any serious work that does not pay. Intellect is valued only as a key to material prosperity. “He wastes his money on books. What good are they to him? He is a carpenter, not a school master.” Men do not realize that the brain is not a tool for exploiting our fellowmen but to follow knowledge like ‘a sinking star beyond the utmost bounds of human thought’.
There are certain theories and dogmas which have diverted men and women from the pursuit of knowledge and made them content with their ignorance and stupidity. Religious teachers have made most of these dogmas. They have taught that man has a body and a soul but they have forgotten that man has a mind also. The Cynics of Greece despised education and intellectual pursuits and declared that Virtue was the only Good. St. Basil is reported to have remarked very frankly: “It is a matter of no interest to us whether the earth is a sphere or a cylinder or a disc.”
With this exaltation of stupidity and ignorance it is no wonder that we suffer from all the shortcomings of a little learning.
Take such a glaring social evil of our country as early marriage. People marry early because certain so-called religious books have recommended this practice. They are to quote chapter and verses to support their ideas. This is nothing other than an instance of a little learning.
Newton who knew so much thought humbly that he was like a little child picking up pebbles on the shore, while the vast ocean of knowledge lay unexplored before him. Some may try to give the impression that while Newton collected pebbles of knowledge painfully, it has been their pastime to collect boulders of it.
Knowledge is long and life is short, and even the best of us must be content to have only a little of it. If we could live hundreds of years instead of a few decades, we could not have enough time to acquire all the knowledge that there is. All the ills of humanity arise from ignorance and egoism. With knowledge we can at least overcome ignorance. Let us remember the beautiful exhortation of the Persian poet. Saadi; "Like a taper one should burn in the pursuit of knowledge.
This is thy duty, even if thou hast to travel over the whole earth."
A quotation from A E. Housman in which he praises the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is worth pondering over: "Other desires perish in their gratification but the desire of knowledge never; the eye is not satisfied with, seeing nor the ear filled with hearing. Other desires become the occasion of pain through dearth of the material to gratify them but not the desire of knowledge: the sum of things to be known is inexhaustible, and however long we read we shall
never come to the end of our story book. So long as the mind of man is what it is, it will continue to exult in advancing on the unknown throughout the infinite field of the universe; and the tree of knowledge will remain forever, as it was in the beginning, a tree to be desired to make one wise.”