Knowledge is Never UselessFriday, May 17, 2013 at 07:10 PM
"When am I ever going to use that?" Is a question that I heard a lot back in high school, but I still heard it disturbing often throughout my time in college. Sometimes, it's about something that is abstract, like mathematics; sometimes it's something that seems to have little bearing on one's chosen career, such as literature for an engineer or science for a classicist. I have mentioned before why history is important, but today I'm going to talk about knowledge in general. Specifically, why all knowledge is useful, and there is never a piece of knowledge that you will "never use."
Let's take our "literature for an engineer" as an example. Obviously, nonfiction literature has its uses in engineering, but what about pure fiction? Maybe a book like Lord Foul's Bane or Wuthering Heights. Surely, these must have no practical application in engineering! Wrong. Books expose you to new ideas and ways of thinking, and even works of fiction (creative falsehoods) will expand your viewpoints and allow you to think differently than you have before. The same, of course, goes for learning science and the scientific method even if your job and life are never involved with actual science. Learning that material causes you to be able to think in new, different, and sometimes innovating and exciting ways. Ways you never would have thought of before.
In fact, all knowledge is like that. Whether or not you can use it immediately in your life (often times, you actually can, unless you get into really esoteric stuff), it becomes added to your brain's manifest, the ideas it draws upon to think and both comes up with novel ideas and to solve existing problems. It helps you think, and the more you're exposed to, the greater your ability to think, and the greater your ability to appreciate other ideas that you may not have before due to inadequate understanding of background. Intelligence is one thing—something that tends to be a quality that people may or may not have (to varying degrees). But the smartest person can still be an imbecile, and often those who are less smart tend to make the bigger differences in the world. Because intelligence is not what matters most, it is wisdom. And wisdom is the collection of all your experiences and the knowledge you have gained, the things you have learned. And you can always learn new things—becomes exposed to more ideas and methodologies. You can't make yourself any smarter, but you can make yourself wiser. In the end, it's wisdom that often matters much more than your simple genetic intelligence.