Knowledge: what’s in it for me?
in Knowledge resistance
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This chapter discusses an idea shared among some economists: people actively and consciously only acquire the knowledge that will be instrumental in achieving their clearly defined, substantive goals. Accordingly, people resist knowledge when it costs more time, money, and other resources than it benefits their efforts towards reaching their goals. The chapter presents three versions of this idea. One contends that people always know what knowledge they resist, and that they oppose it for the reason mentioned above. The second is the notion that people usually resist knowledge in a goal-rational way, although they sometimes fail. The third contends that each individual is several persons over time, with partly conflicting preferences. Although each person within the individual always resists knowledge rationally given their time-limited goal, their resistance can be irrational given the goals of their other persons. The chapter adds an alternative to these views. Whereas the perspectives of ‘rational ignorance’ in this chapter focus on substantive costs (regarding time, money, effort, health, and the environment), the Dionysian, deeply social interest and the social rationality associated with it need to be incorporated into any analysis of the costs behind knowledge acquisition.

Knowledge resistance

How we avoid insight from others

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