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Universal Truth #2. Knowledge is Power

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 5, 2016

The Priory CategoryKnowledge is Power.

Know your friends, know your enemies, know your environment and know your limitations!

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a total lack of knowledge is far more dangerous. They also say that ignorance is bliss, but that’s because the ignorant don’t know what’s coming… better to know what’s coming so you can prepare for and, if at all possible, avoid or at least mitigate it. The more you know about the people and the world around you, the more prepared you are for any given situation and the more power you have to deal with it.

Knowledge is the psychological result of perception and experience as well as the result of learning and reasoning. It can be the (technical) know-how and skill required to do something as well as the sum of actual information that a person (or body of persons) possess.
The possession of knowledge gives you the power to use it. It is undeniable that one’s potential and abilities are improved by knowledge, and through that one’s reputation, influence and authority (and therefore one’s power) are increased.

Statue of Ferdowsi (940–1020 CE) in Ferdowsi Square in Tehran

Statue of Ferdowsi (940–1020 CE) in Ferdowsi Square in Tehran

“A wise man is strong, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.”
The earliest written reference that links knowledge and power is from the Biblical Book of Proverbs 24:5. In its original Hebrew (circa 1st millennium BCE) it reads “גֶּבֶר-חָכָם בַּעוֹז; וְאִישׁ-דַּעַת, מְאַמֶּץ-כֹּחַ”.
The English translation given above is from the King James Version, 1611.

“Your power comes from your knowledge”.
The Persian poet Ferdowsi wrote this as “توانا بود هر که دانا بود” in his epic Farsi poem Shahnameh (Letter of Kings, circa 1st millennium CE) which tells the mainly mythical, and to some extent historical, past of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century. It is an important text to adherents of Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the pre-Islamic Iranian empires from around 600BCE to 650CE.

“Knowledge is Power.”
Although often credited to Francis Bacon it seems the first written variation of this (perhaps now clichéd) phrase appeared in Arabic as “Knowledge is power and it can command obedience”. These words were attributed to Imam Ali (599-661 CE) within the 10th century collection of his sayings The Nahj al-Balagha by Sharif Razi (970-1015 CE).

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679), artist unknown.

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679), artist unknown.

It is also the standard English translation of the Latin phrase “scientia potentia est” which was first penned by Thomas Hobbes in part one, De Homine, of his Latin rewriting of Leviathan in 1668. It did not appear in his earlier English version of 1651.
The nearest Bacon came to writing anything similar was in a passage referring to God, “knowledge itself is (His) power”, in his own Latin work Meditationes Sacrae (1597) in which it appears as “ipsa scientia potestas est”.

“Forewarned is forearmed.”
(English Proverb, circa 17th century CE)
Knowledge or intelligence achieved in advance of an event or eventuality allows for proper preparation, and therefore the power, to deal with and overcome that (or similar) event or eventuality. That’s why intelligence and information gathering is vital to any endeavour or pursuit.

“Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power.”
From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Old Age that was included in the collection Society and Solitude (1870).
Knowledge comes from observing everything you come across and learning from it – look and learn. See what works and what doesn’t then repeat what works and perfect it – practise makes perfect.

“Knowledge is power, geographical knowledge is world power.”
“Wissen ist Macht, geographisches Wissen ist Weltmacht” became a popular phrase in Germany after the 1871 unification and was often used to support efforts for a German colonial empire after 1880. After the disaster of World War One proponents of this geopolitical concept hoped that the Machtergreifung (the Nazi seizure of power) in 1933 would lead to an increased role for Germany as a world power.
It certainly seemed, for a while, that this would be so. Ironic, then, that it was the British mastery of knowledge (through secret technologies (like radar) and superior intelligence and information gathering) that played a major part in the Nazi regime’s defeat by the Allies in World War Two.
The modern German electronic warfare unit, Bundeswehr Bataillon Elektronische Kampfführung 932, in Frankenberg uses the already mentioned Latin phrase “Scientia potentia est” as its motto.

“Be prepared.”
The motto of the Scout movement since 1907 “which means you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body … by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.” Robert Baden-Powell.

John Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton (1834 – 1902)

John Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton (1834 – 1902)

“Through Knowledge, Power.”
The motto of the fictional Druids (an order of historians, philosophers, magic-users, teachers and researchers) in Terry Brooks very successful Shannara series of fantasy novels (1977 onwards) reiterates that power is achieved through knowledge and demonstrates how prevalent the notion has become in modern popular culture.

Is there such a thing as too much, or even dangerous, knowledge?
Lets consider knowledge in terms of the previous Universal Truth “Moderation is the key to Happiness”.
It would suggest that too much knowledge must be a bad or negative thing – this may seem counter-intuitive… but is it?
If we accept that great, or absolute, knowledge has the potential to lead to great, or absolute, power – then we are forced to now consider the oft repeated phrase…

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
With these words – originally spoken by John Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton, in 1887 – we are given the vice that an excess of knowledge will lead to – corruption… so maybe it is possible to know too much.

“I want, once and for all, not to know many things. Wisdom requires moderation in knowledge as in other things.”
This Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) quote supports the notion that too much knowledge can be a bad thing. We need Wisdom to temper our thirst for knowledge and it is with Wisdom that we must use (or choose not to use) the knowledge (and power) that we do have. Nuclear technologies and weapons being the prime example (among many) of potentialy dangerous knowledge and power that require wisdom in deciding their use.

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Universal Truth #1. Moderation is the key to Happiness

Posted by Harbinger451 on June 4, 2015

The Priory CategoryBehold the first Universal Truth from The Priory of Universal Truth

Moderation is the key to Happiness.

A little bit of everything really does do you good – the trick is knowing how much a little is!

For the purposes of this Universal Truth the concept of moderation is specific to finding the mean, or middle ground, between the extremes of excess and deficiency in ALL things – for only there at the prime or optimum amount can the benefit or virtue of a thing be found.

The philosophical idea of moderating one’s thoughts and behaviour being a virtuous path that culminates in the achievement of a Higher Purpose or Ideal Self (or, less philosophically perhaps, a happier and healthier life) has long been with us. Moderation is synonymous with the notion of Temperance – one of Plato’s (and Christianity’s) four cardinal virtues and a principle that is also found in eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. It is also one of six virtues in modern Positive Psychology classification.

Buddha

Buddha

Solon of Athens (7th century BCE), said to be one of the Seven Sages of Greece and responsible for framing the laws that shaped the Athenian democracy, stated “Keep everything with moderation”.

The Buddhist Middle Way (6th century BCE) taught that a Central or Middle Path between the extremes of religious asceticism and worldly self-indulgence (or between the extremes of self-mortification and sensual indulgence), leads to liberation and enlightenment (or inner happiness).

The Confucian “Doctrine of the Mean” (5th-4th century BCE) teaches of attaining the highest order of virtue – a state of joy, peace and contentment. Its guiding principle is that one should never act in excess but maintain balance and harmony by keeping one’s mind and actions in a state of constant equilibrium.

The Temple of Apollo in Delphi (built 7th-4th century BCE) had three phrases carved into stone above the entrance within its forecourt: “Know Thyself”, “Nothing in Excess” and “Go Bail and Ruin is at Hand” (i.e. no good deed goes unpunished).

Aristotle

Aristotle

Aristotle’s Golden Mean (4th century BCE), often summed up as
“Moderation in all things”
states that all that is good (or virtuous) in this life is a balancing act between two evils; a greater, active, indulgent evil (a vice) and a lesser, inactive, passive one (a flaw).
Aristotle makes clear in his Nicomachean Ethics the assertion that a virtuous life was a happy life.
“Happiness is an operation according to perfect virtue.”

Thomas Aquinas (13th century CE) observed in his Summa Theologica
“… evil consists in discordance from their rule or measure. Now this may happen either by their exceeding the measure or by their falling short of it; as is clearly the case in all things ruled or measured … it is evident that moral virtue observes the mean.”
Although Aquinas agrees with Aristotle that happiness is linked to virtue, he believed that true (or absolute) happiness was only attainable in an after-life with God.

St Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas

“Enough is as good as a feast”
(English Proverb, 15th century CE)
… and, lets face it, enough is also much more preferable than a famine. Put another way – the right amount is as good as too much, and is certainly way better than too little.

Even the “Great Beast” Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) himself, who famously said “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”, acquiesced that… “Balance every thought with its opposition. Because the marriage of them is the destruction of illusion.”

“A little of what you fancy does you good”
(Vaudeville song famously sung by Marie Lloyd, 1915)
… a little being just the right amount to enjoy or feel the benefit of something. It should be worth noting that a little bit of what you don’t fancy does you good too… consider the principle of vaccination and the practice of Mithridatism (protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts).

“A virtue is a conscious moderation of the Self for the sake of happiness, health, peace, social harmony and proactive cooperation. In a strong society virtue should be encouraged as GOOD.”
(The Priory of Universal Truth, 2010)
… “A vice (or excess) is a conscious over-indulgence of the Self regardless of the consequences to others and often even to one’s self. Vice is purely selfish and should be curtailed as EVIL.”
… “A flaw (or deficiency) is a (largely) unconscious under-indulgence of the Self caused by inadequacies, faults or failings in a person’s personality, character and behaviour. Flaws should be treated and accepted as INDIFFERENT.”

The Priory of Universal Truth is drawing up a list of Universal Truths HERE. Learn and Master these truths and your Ideal Self can be attained.

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Universal Questions: What is Universal Truth?

Posted by Harbinger451 on February 20, 2012

The Priory CategoryBroadly speaking there are two types of Truth. The objective, or Universal Truth and the subjective, or Supposed Truth.

Universal Truth is more than just a mere Fact.

A fact has to be verifiable and evident. A truth does not. A fact IS certainly the truth, but a truth does not necessarily have to be a fact. Most truths are entirely relative and are a matter of opinion.

A Universal (or Absolute) Truth IS a fact – unalterable and permanent.

Universal Truth can be a self evident axiom or it can be a universally accepted consensus of opinion. It must be grounded in reality and be supported by reasoned and justifiable logic. It must always be true. It must apply to all people or things – in all places and at all times.

When considering the veracity of a truth keep this in mind – If there is no doubt, not even a shadow of a doubt, then it probably IS the truth and should be considered a Universal Truth if the consensus of opinion is overwhelming.

Supposed Truth can not be proven, nor dis-proven for that matter, and there may never be a consensus of opinion regarding it.

Some Truths can be very much open to interpretation. Being impossible to prove, many Supposed Truths manifest as Faith in an often religious Belief System. These Truths can only be considered as possible answers to the Universal Questions that intrigue us all. We may still find the answers to some of them but most will remain unknown and unprovable.

When considering a Supposed Truth, you have to ask – is it plausible or implausible? The greater the probability of a Supposed Truth the more likely it is to be True in the Universal sense.

If something doesn’t Make Sense then it is probably NOT the Truth so can only be described as a Supposed one, and a doubtful one at that.

If there is NO Doubt however, not even a Shadow of a Doubt, then it probably IS the Truth and might even be considered a Universal Truth if the consensus of opinion is overwhelming.

The Priory of Universal Truth is drawing up a list of Universal Truths HERE.

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