You’ll find a lot of talk about money issues on Wallet Arrow. But one thing that’s sometimes left out of the financial picture is the value of other things. For example, love, friendship, and health are all ways to add “wealth” to your life.
Knowledge, which can come from many sources, is arguably also among the most valuable non-money ways to enrich your life. As you’ve likely heard before, knowledge is powerful and arguable more important than money.
Of course, whether that power is good or bad depends on how the person with the knowledge uses it.
How to Gain Knowledge
Listening is one of the best ways to gain knowledge. Many people prefer to hear themselves talk, which has great therapeutic effects. But to gain knowledge, you need to receive something you don’t know – which requires listening.
By reading voraciously, you can make yourself an expert in your field of expertise. Whether you’re reading books, manuals or online articles, reading the right materials can expand your knowledge and help you excel at nearly anything.
While listening is certainly key to gaining power, the role of listening is especially important in discussion. Here, the idea is to both receive another point of view, and then to offer your point of view for critique in a back-and-forth dialogue. Healthy discussions can foster greater knowledge for both parties.
Experience is perhaps the number one way to gain knowledge. Through trial and error, you can learn how to excel over time. Knowledge gained by experience is especially valuable because it can’t be taught – it must be earned.
Who Says Knowledge is Power?
Throughout history, we can find a slew of noted leaders, authors and historians who spoke of the value of gaining knowledge. Here are a few examples:
1. Sir Francis Bacon
Sir Francis Bacon, who is credited with establishing the scientific method of analysis, is the philosopher most often cited with the quote saying “knowledge is power.”
In reality Bacon’s specific phrase in his Latin writing Meditationes Sacrae (1597) was “ipsa scientia potestas est”, which is closer to “knowledge itself is power.” No matter the translation, it’s clear he championed the idea that when people gain knowledge, they become more powerful.
2. Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes, another English philosopher who studied under Sir Francis Scott Bacon, also championed the idea that knowledge is powerful.
Hobbes said the exact phrase “knowledge is power” in Latin several times, including in his books Leviathan (1668) and De Corpore (1655).
3. The Bible
The Bible references that knowledge is power or powerful as it addresses the value of having more knowledge in Proverbs Chapter 24, verse 5. It essentially says, “A wise man is strong, but a man of knowledge increaseth strength.”
4. Ralph Waldo Emerson
American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who championed the idea of individualism, promoted the idea that gaining knowledge has great advantages.
“Skill to do comes of doing; knowledge comes by eyes always open, and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power,” Emerson wrote in Old Age (pg. 321).
5. Michael Foucault
French philosopher Michael Foucault addressed how knowledge equals power in his social sciences essays. He believed that humans couldn’t achieve “absolute” knowledge because history is constantly changing what we can know. Knowledge and power cannot be separated, he said, because their goals are the same: control.
6. C.S. Lewis
Author C.S. Lewis addresses the relationship between knowledge and power in his book Abolition of Man. He held that humans use knowledge not to gain control over nature, but to give them more power over other humans.
7. James Madison
In American history, political leaders have often hailed knowledge as a key to an effective government in a democracy. James Madison said as much in a letter to W.T. Barry, politician and Postmaster General, in 1882.
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives,” he wrote.
The Role Knowledge in Money Management
There are a number of reasons why knowledge is powerful. Of course, in one example, the more you know about finances, the better you can manage your money. This kind of knowledge is the power you need to help you achieve your financial and life goals.
If you know how to get out of debt, budget well and save money, you can stay on track to achieve major life steps like buying a car or buying a home. You can save for retirement or your next vacation. Knowing how to invest well will help you grow your money more reliably.
However, the power of knowledge takes many shapes well beyond knowing about money. No matter what the subject, the more you know, the better control you have.
Having Little Knowledge is Dangerous
Without enough knowledge, you can make mistakes. In your financial life, those mistakes could lead to poor decisions that lead you into debt and mar your credit history. That, in turn, makes it harder to achieve other goals like qualifying for a mortgage for a new home.
The bottom line is that learning can enrich your life in a way that is beyond measure.