Sunday, May 8, 2011

Knowledge Is Power: Part 1

I first remember hearing this phrase on Saturday mornings while watching School House Rock.  Yes, the original shows from 30+ years ago.  Obviously, the show was not the originator of the phrase, but they sure used it!  Back then I don't think I really understood what it meant, but it was forever etched into my mind:  Knowledge is Power!  I have used the phrase myself over the years, and I have come to realize that there are many facets to its meaning.

First, let's look at what these words actually mean.  I am so excited to have found websites to search for the definitions of words from Webster's 1828 Dictionary!  (click on any of the links)

KNOWL'EDGE, n. nol'lej.

1. A clear and certain perception of that which exists, or of truth and fact; the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of our ideas.
We can have no knowledge of that which does not exist. God has a perfect knowledge of all his works. Human knowledge is very limited, and is mostly gained by observation and experience.
2. Learning; illumination of mind.
Ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.
3. Skill; as a knowledge of seamanship.
4. Acquaintance with any fact or person. I have no knowledge of the man or thing.
5. Cognizance; notice. Ruth 2.
6. Information; power of knowing.
7. Sexual intercourse. But it is usual to prefix carnal; as carnal knowledge.

POW'ER, n. [The Latin has posse, possum, potes, potentia. The primary sense of the verb is to strain, to exert force.]

1. In a philosophical sense, the faculty of doing or performing any thing; the faculty of moving or of producing a change in something; ability or strength. A man raises his hand by his own power, or by power moves another body. The exertion of power proceeds from the will, and in strictness, no being destitute of will or intelligence, can exert power. Power in man is active or speculative. Active power is that which moves the body; speculative power is that by which we see, judge, remember, or in general, by which we think.
Power may exist without exertion. We have power to speak when we are silent.
Power has been distinguished also into active and passive,the power of doing or moving, and the power of receiving impressions or of suffering. In strictness, passive power is an absurdity in terms. To say that gold has a power to be melted,is improper language,yet for want of a more appropriate word, power is often used in a passive sense, and is considered as two-fold; able to make or able to receive any change.
2. Force; animal strength; as the power of the arm, exerted in lifting, throwing or holding.
3. Force; strength; energy; as the power of the mind, of the imagination, of the fancy. He has not powers of genius adequate to the work.
4. Faculty of the mind, as manifested by a particular mode of operation; as the power of thinking, comparing and judging; the reasoning powers.
5. Ability, natural or moral. We say, a man has the power of doing good; his property gives him the power of relieving the distressed; or he has the power to persuade others to do good; or it is not in his power to pay his debts. The moral power of man is also his power of judging or discerning in moral subjects.
6. In mechanics, that which produces motion or force, or which may be applied to produce it. Thus the inclined plane is called a mechanical power, as it produces motion, although this in reality depends on gravity. The wheel and axle, and the lever, are mechanical powers, as they may be applied to produce force. These powers are also called forces, and they are of two kinds, moving power, and sustaining power.
7. Force. The great power of the screw is of extensive use in compression. The power of steam is immense.
8. That quality in any natural body which produces a change or makes an impression on another body; as the power of medicine; the power of heat; the power of sound.
9. Force; strength; momentum; as the power of the wind, which propels a ship or overturns a building.
10. Influence; that which may move the mind; as the power of arguments or of persuasion.
11. Command; the right of governing, or actual government; dominion; rule, sway; authority. A large portion of Asia is under the power of the Russian emperor. The power of the British monarch is limited by law. The powers of government are legislative, executive, judicial, and ministerial.
Power is no blessing in itself, but when it is employed to protect the innocent.
Under this sense may be comprehended civil, political, ecclesiastical, and military power.
12. A sovereign, whether emperor, king or governing prince or the legislature of a state; as the powers of Europe; the great powers; the smaller powers. In this sense, the state or nation governed seems to be included in the word power. Great Britain is a great naval power.
13. One invested with authority; a ruler; a civil magistrate. Rom.13.
14. Divinity; a celestial or invisible being or agent supposed to have dominion over some part of creation; as celestial powers; the powers of darkness.
15. That which has physical power; an army; a navy; a host; a military force.
Never such a power--
Was levied in the body of a land.
16. Legal authority; warrant; as a power of attorney; an agent invested with ample power. The envoy has full powers to negotiate a treaty.
17. In arithmetic and algebra, the product arising from the multiplication of a number or quantity into itself; as, a cube is the third power; the biquadrate is the fourth power.
18. In Scripture, right; privilege. John 1. 1 Cor.9.
19. Angels, good or bad. Col 1. Eph. 6.
20. Violence, force; compulsion. Ezek. 4.
21. Christ is called the power of God, as through him and his gospel, God displays his power and authority in ransoming and saving sinners. 1 Cor.1.
22. The powers of heaven may denote the celestial luminaries. Matt.24.
23. Satan is said to have the power of death, as he introduced sin, the cause of death, temporal and eternal, and torments men with the feat of death and future misery.
24. In vulgar language, a large quantity; a great number; as a power of good things. [This is, I believe, obsolete, even among our common people.]
25. Power of attorney, authority given to a person to act for another.

Wow!  That's pretty deep!  That's all I am going to post for today.  I encourage you to read through the definitions, and Please leave a comment telling me what "Knowledge is Power" means to you.  Next time I will talk about what it means to me.  

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