Until fairly recently, cultural knowledge was something of luxe – so called “intellectuals” were those who lived affluent lives. They acquired cultural knowledge of art, music or literature as a means to enrich their lives (or sometimes to show off), it was not out of necessity. Cultural knowledge was supplementary and privileged.
For most people back then, cultural knowledge was something like “hobby” ; they had to work first, and then if they were not too fatigued after long hours of labor, they could immerse themselves in the cultural world. People spent substantial amount of their time working to earn money to live. Learning, in terms of gaining cultural knowledge which is not directly useful to their work, was never a necessity.
Today in a “knowledge society“ as Peter Drucker puts it, knowledge has become a necessity, and cultural knowledge is no exception. Many people seem to learn things which are not straightly connected to their work, in order to obtain deeper understanding of what they do, how they can improve it, and be intellectually autonomous.
People’s lives have become relatively decent comparing to a few centuries ago, and people are able to afford higher education than ever. They can easily access to cultural knowledge (by going to museums on weekends, buying whatever books they want etc.) and this knowledge helps them both enrich their personal lives and be competent in their work, which provides them a sense of satisfaction in their total lives.
Knowledge is no longer “luxe” in life, but it has become “utility” ; knowing more improves your life in so many ways.
I personally believe in the power of cultural knowledge. There must be a reason for certain culture to remain appreciated by people throughout the ages, and understanding – or at least trying to understand – its value gives a hint of what to expect in the future.
All this was a positive side of knowledge society. I shall stop here today so as not to end with a pessimistic tone, as I usually do… It’s finally sunny today after days of raining, I’m feeling happy and I don’t want to break this mood.