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Fools rush in, where Angels fear to tread.

I’m beginning to wonder about the relationship between change and knowledge. Specifically I’m wondering how much you need to understand something before it becomes right to change. Many people nowadays come and look at a social convention, a social regulation and conceive it to be ab initio wrong, that by the very nerve of something actually being a social rule – that someone has the gall to impose a convention upon the sovereign soul – is enough that it ought to be ruled wrong. I don’t subscribe to this view.

I think that it is essential that there is a good knowledge of the system before you begin to change it. Systems are dynamic, and functional. They exist for a reason and previously in some social situation they had a useful role in regulating the behaviour of people so that people know what to expect from each other. They also functioned to smooth the wheels of society and to insure that people could interact within safe boundaries with each other. This was needed to reach a common understanding. Rules and conventions exist for a reason and are a representation of the knowledge of old which manifests in a then rational arrangement.

Now this is not a popular view in the modern era. People think that they are somehow empowered by a nascent self-awareness coupled with a false sense of pedagogical certainty that they can start to remake the world in their image. It’s surprising how confident we feel when we make such assertions but it’s not that clear in reality and I don’t understand how they can feel so sure.

I guess this all boils down simply when you think about it. To the wise person there are few opportunities, they see all the difficulties and all the challenges and all the complications. Consequently they can also see the opportunities that are few and meaningful that this knowledge can be exercised for. The ignorant person understands little of what he undertakes and cannot comprehend the true nature of his arguments nor how they are really likely to take effect in the real world. They are blind to what is obvious to the one who sees clearly, because the light of the mind is knowledge and their righteous vision is encapsulated and encouraged by ignorance and so they act precipitously and improperly

What I don’t want it to mean though is that knowledge increases ossification in social structure. It causes change to be resisted with more then the normal force because those who are at the top of the intellectual pyramid see the whole panorama of the reasoning behind the rule and so can see the cogent need to resist change. I suppose this is good though, they see the need for active reasoning to make a change, they presume that the system has inherent value that is at least initially and that the burden for change lies on those who would make the case for it. I’m emboldened that the revolutionary movements of the 18-20th Century have been driven by intellectual movements that have advocated change driven on cogently argued principles. This last condition is what modern change arguments really fail to make out – the lack of real consensus in societal goals and direction means that change grinds to an effective halt.

Change and knowledge are ultimately mutually dependent – only real knowledge ought to drive change; pretensions to knowledge and mere information cannot suffice to make such a switch permissible. Too few people understand that nowadays – they feel the need to do something at all costs even if the action gains no ground, replaces one problem with another or ultimately adds only problems. This thinking is really the power of the fast world we live where results have to be instant but not actually progressive. Clear calculated directional change is no longer appreciated, its fruits take too long to appear and the efforts required of them are too bitter for the reaper to want to take the effort. We all lose by such thinking, yet it persists and persists, and we see no sign of it disappearing.