Where does society stand before knowledge? The State may have a ministry of science and education, but how often will the term knowledge come up in a political campaign or a parliamentary debate? Knowledge, and especially the consciousness of our knowledge, is a defining element of our species, and yet it seems we have forgotten that. However, because of this marriage between knowledge and the human, when we overlook the importance of knowledge, we are also taking our humanity for granted and run the risk of being less human, or even something that is no longer human at all.
Of course knowledge needs science, and it needs to be precise and have universal validity. Nevertheless, within all truth there is buried a paradoxical element, and knowledge must not allow that paradoxical nature of truth obscure it. But likewise, and paradoxically likewise, it must investigate the paradoxical, because it is the paradoxical in truth that allows knowledge to avoid dogma. For this reason, it must be constantly on its guard against the traps of scepticism and relativisms that lead to nihilisms.
Knowledge for human beings is a moral imperative. The primary clauses of any democratic constitution should remark on the assurances the State will make to encourage the search and acquisition of knowledge, as well as the guarantee of the distribution of knowledge and the promotion of its accessibility in the society.
At the same time, societies should be sceptical about the monopolising of knowledge, either by the state itself or by the media monopolies created by the marketplace. In this respect, information needs to be regulated via the concept of knowledge and protected by precision and universal validity, in order to defend citizens against ideological relativisms and misinformation. Censorship is an enemy of knowledge, except when it is used to censor misinformation and nonsense.
Knowledge needs science, but it also needs philosophy. It is through philosophy that all human activity is raised to consciousness, which also allows the discovery of universal validity that is embedded in science as well as the discovery of the great driving force of authentic purposiveness. Society needs morality to hold it together, and philosophy offers a quality control in the design and understanding of moralities. Education is a distribution of facts, but it is also an infusion of morality that is best imparted from the philosophical standpoint of discovery through questioning and the channelling of knowledge and experience into well-being.
As for the psychological paradoxes that grow into and undermine the façades of well-being and the impossible quest for happiness that has to be dealt with whenever welfare states are created, philosophy is the best investigator in the complex field of paradoxes and universality of masks and lies.
Philosophy, and knowledge through it, is a constantly progressive force that, striving to know, discovers through that striving that there is always so much more to know. This is one of philosophy’s many self-contained paradoxes and the value of not giving in to the constant dismay these paradoxes first produce. Discovering the beauty of them, though persistence, is the primary task of a positively progressive attitude to philosophy.