What Is the Value of Knowledge?

A desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being, whose mind is not totally debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge.

- Samuel Johnson, as quoted in Boswell's The Life of Johnson, (July 30, 1763)

Podcast of the Day

Historically the philosophy of education has been at the core of the subject. Today there are relatively few philosophers working in this area. Meira Levinson, a philosopher with experience of teaching in US public schools, is one of them. Here she discusses  fundamental questions about what we are trying to do when we educate our children.

Listen to Meira Levinson on the Aims of Education

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...So much of the history of humanity is the history of the pursuit of knowledge.

Sometimes the knowledge obtained has had unintended consequences, such as Röntgen’s X-ray. Sometimes the knowledge has had thoroughly intended consequences, such as the invention of steam power and the industrial revolution that it sparked. Sometimes the knowledge has had no consequences at all - just ask your local alchemists and phrenologists. But even these latter circumstances are to be celebrated. It was the simple act of humans pursuing knowledge - even those pursuits that proved fruitless – that led us to the astonishing ability to cure diseases, send people to the moon, and, on a no less grand scale, create enough food to feed the world...

Continue reading Andrew Whitehouse's article: Remembering the true value of knowledge

Further Reading

Value of knowledge has always been a central topic within epistemology. An important question to address, which can be traced right back to Plato's Meno, is: what is it about knowledge (if anything) that makes it more valuable than mere true belief? Interest in this topic has re-emerged in recent years, in response to a rediscovery of the Meno problem regarding the value of knowledge (e.g., Kvanvig 2003) and in response to a concern that contemporary accounts of knowledge are unable to explain the (putative) distinctive value of knowledge (e.g., Williamson 2000). Moreover, recent discussions of the value of knowledge have begun to explore the possibility that it is not knowledge which is the distinctively valuable epistemic standing, but rather a different epistemic standing altogether, such as understanding...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on The Value of Knowledge by Duncan Pritchard and John Turri

Related Topics

Ignorance | PhilosophySchool | Skepticism


The internet has given us access to more information than we can possibly imagine, but it has also given us just as many distractions. Each day I post the best beginner-friendly videos, podcasts, and articles on a particular scientific or philosophical topic to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get into the habit of learning something valuable every day. For example, you could listen to the daily podcast while cooking dinner each night or watch the daily video while on your lunch break. If you want to understand the world, you need to turn learning into a habit and the simplest way to cultivate a habit is with a daily reminder. Enter your email below to start learning about the great ideas that shape our world.

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