THE USE OF KNOWLEDGE IN SOCIETY

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By:  JANNEH S. DARBO

This week we want to share with our esteem readers on the use of knowledge in the society.  Of recent, we have heard so many comments from social media, newspapers, rumors, hearsays, etc. from our intellectuals who seem to be misguided, disunited, and unprofessional among others of our society. People are claiming to be in new Gambia which I don’t understand. I can understand that there is a new democratic government which is said to be different from what had been here for the twenty two years of the former government rule.

Some of the remarks made had prompted me to made research on the use of knowledge in society of which those learned people may have forgotten about their corporate social responsibility. There is a hadith which advices people to talk about peace or keep mute. So many people have confidence in knowledgeable people and depend on them to make best decision, if those believed to be the minds and souls of the society failed to diligently guide the society irrespective of any emotional feelings will disintegrate societies, generations, families, and tribes etc which will setback the progress and the socio-economic development of the country.  As a common saying “the burning of the bedroom will never spear the bed bug”.

 Friedrich .A. Hayek 09/08/2011 described the Use of Knowledge in Society as an essay that sums up the insights of a lifetime. It is a template for a worldview. It is a source of unlimited amounts of study and reflection. It is an insight that explains vast amounts of the world around us. It is a flash of brilliance, a revelation that millions have missed a paradigm for understanding the past and future. It is a rebuke to intellectuals from time immemorial and a new way of thinking for true intellectuals of the future.

According to Hayek, Knowledge is a good, perhaps the most important good, something vastly more important than all physical property combined. It is the driving force of history, the immortal, sharable, reproducible, malleable substance that has built our world and makes possible the forward motion of history. This essay shows why it is not possible for this knowledge to be produced or used by centralized agents in the civic order but rather must be generated, extracted, and put to use by real actors using real property and interacting with the world around them. Social complexity grows organically from experience of time and place and this can never be produced from the outside regardless of the supposed intelligence of the planning class.

Hayek’s point here was elaborated on providing a framework for a robust social theory, and even gives a case for understanding why the idea of property rights can never pertain to the world of ideas. Ideas are diffuse and constantly changing; no state can presume to codified them and assign ownership over them.

For years people have looked for a passage from the tradition, whether Hayek or someone else, that clearly explains the nature of knowledge as a non-scarce good and its high value in pushing social and economic progress.

People have gone to great lengths to spell out the difference between the physical world of scarcity and the world of ideas in which non-scarcity prevails, and suggested that this is a major reason for the great migration to the digital world. I have longed for a passage from some Gambian thinkers who seemed fully to grasp the idea not just in hints and suggestions but worked out and precise. But there are some who grasp ideas just in hints and suggestions who need to be awaken from their slumber and sleep to understand the direction the wind blows.

The growth of knowledge is of such special importance because, while the material resources will always remain scarce and will have to be reserved for limited purposes, the uses of new knowledge (where we do not make them artificially scarce by patents of monopoly) are unrestricted. Knowledge, once achieved, becomes gratuitously available for the benefit of all. It is through this free gift of the knowledge acquired by the experiments of some members of society that general progress is made possible, that the achievements of those who have gone before facilitate the advance of those who follow.

Hayek goes on. He uses the fantastic phrase “fund of experience” — an analogy to capital theory in the physical world — as a way of explaining how the whole world and the whole of history can benefit from the success of one single firm or one innovator. “The free gift of the knowledge that has cost those in the lead much to achieve enables those who follow to reach the same level at a much smaller cost.”

This free gift is what I’ve called the socialistic side of capitalism. Every private producer, in order to market its wares, must necessarily give away that most precious thing, the evidence of its own success. That evidence, that knowledge, becomes part of the commons. That thereby inspires competitors to emulate the success. The profitable producer must, in turn, stay on the path of change and progress and never rest, generate ever newer and better knowledge.

So we see here how Hayek anticipated the great trend of our time, the steady and inexorable move of more and more of life from the realm of scarce to non-scarce: words, images, movies, physical objects with 3d printing, and now even money. This is all about the scalability, malleability, indestructibility, and immortality of ideas as non-scarce good.

It is gratuitously available for the benefit of all — and this of course is what the markets “desires” in effect: the inclusion of the whole of the world’s population and resources in the great process of improving our lives in this world in which scarcity will always and forever be a feature — a feature to deal with realistically (and humanely) and also to overcome insofar as we are able.

To understand the background, Hayek “Use of Knowledge in Society” is the essential document, one of the most important essays in the history of liberalism.

Our society is designed to combine the opportunities of professional minds, with the attraction of hearing and presenting new and innovative research, engaging in vigorous debate, and interacting with like-minded scholars who share research interests. I am excited to present this article The Use of Knowledge in Society. Understanding this essay will get you from here to there in forming a theory of the social order. It is that important and no liberty-minded intellectual can afford not to have mastered its contents. Hayek helps us see the world around us in a new way and not in the one sided way which enticed me to feature this essay in this weeks’ discussions.

You will all agree with me that there is no single discipline of study that does not have ethical approaches to present facts, be it education, health, agriculture, environment, law, sociology, philosophy, religion, politics, security etc. There is no one person who masters all these areas all by himself, it is better to understand that the knowledge you gained is a drop in the ocean. Ones knowledge and experience is not suffice in the society it is consultation, research and delegation of right delegate that makes us success or fail.

It would be a great delighted if our learned men can take ethical professional giant steps in constructive debates towards the reformation of better Gambia irrespective of party affiliation, tribe, religion, region, educational background, etc. in the shine of so many doctors in name of Dr. Gomez (professor), Dr. Fanneh, Dr. Barry, Dr. Janneh, Dr. Senghore, Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow among hosts of Gambian doctors, I bet Gambia is not an underdog. We can do it better together if we understand what is meant to collectively develop Gambia which is just like a city state. Come out and integrate the Gambian society with your knowledge diligently, professionally and sensitise those elates who use their knowledge to disgorge the minds of others especially the young ones. Some times when I watch certain programs on   GRTS I get over joy but some I got annoyed and blame the management for allowing such programs to role in the national television. They should not allow certain programs where the moderator and his panelists don’t listen to each other and invite the institutions concerned. How can you talk about security in the absence of security experts or youths’ development and employment in the absence of ministry of youth and employment?

These are issues that need technicians and not personal views and sentiments. One day I was following a program on GRTS a woman called and told the panel to listen to each other so that their audience can listen and hear them well. That was real embarrassment and the following day so many people expresses similar embarrassment. Whatever we are saying should entail a high sense of maturity and professionalism to properly direct the audience and integrate the society. In education we are advice to say I don’t know when we don’t know or have little knowledge of what had been asked to talk about.

I would like to acknowledge the receipt of your professional guidance to boost up my skills in writing.

You can send your comments to: educationindepth@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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