ow much do I want to read more? 3/10

This is not a bad book, I'm simply not interested enough to keep reading.

The Role of Knowledge


It is widely believed that modern society has a larger quantity of knowledge than more primitive societies, that this quantity of knowledge is growing, and that the knowledge "required" for the average citizen to live in a modern society is also growing. Certainly the complex apparatus of modern life is beyond the grasp of most non-modern peoples, past or present. What is not so obvious, but true nonetheless, is that most modern peoples would find it equally-or more-difficult to survive individually in a "primitive" or nonmodern world. In short, it is not clear or demonstrable that the total quantity of knowledge differs as between "savage" and "civilized" man. What is more readily established is that the kinds of knowledge possessed by the average inhabitant of the primitive and the modern world are very different, and that each would be at considerable hazard in the world of the other.

Civilization is an enormous device for economizing on knowledge. The time and effort (including costly mistakes) necessary to acquire knowledge are minimized through specialization, which is to say through drastic limitations on the amount of duplication of knowledge among the members of so ciety. A relative handful of civilized people know how to produce food, a different handful how to produce clothing, medicine, electronics, houses, etc. The huge costs saved by not having to duplicate given knowledge and experience widely through the population makes possible the higher development of that knowledge among the various subsets of people in the respective specialties.


Matthew Brady required far more knowledge of photoghraphic processes to take pictures with his cumbersome equipment during the Civil War than a modern photographer requires to operate his automated cameras. Science and technology lead to far more complexity in producing cameras and film today, but that growing complexity among a handful of technicians permits far more simplicity (and ignorance) in the acutal use of modern photographic equipment and materials by a mass of people.

Automobiles are much more complex to build, but far simpler to operate, than in the days before automatic ignition, automatic transmissions,