What philosophers have argued that "knowledge is power"? What sort of arguments did they put forward?


Michel Foucault was one prominent philosophy who emphasized the inseparability of knowledge and power. On Foucault's account, power is based on knowledge, makes use of knowledge, and reproduces knowledge. As a consequence, knowledge can never be neutral. For example, Foucault showed that epistemic claims about 'what counts as madness' have long been used to control the poor, the sick, and the homeless.

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    Most of the answers you get to this will probably involve political or social power. But the Pragmatist tradition drives this down to a more basic level. A common trip in that tradition is that knowledge is knowing-how rather than knowing-that. So e.g. to know that 2+2=4 is to know how to add 2 and 2. So to have knowledge is to have a capability, which is another way of saying that to have knowledge is to have power.
    – user20153
    Aug 30 '16 at 18:54
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    sigh. I meant "common trope", not "trip", and meant to post it as an answer. But Foucault was a good Pragmatist so it'll do as a comment. ;)
    – user20153
    Aug 30 '16 at 18:56

Scientia est Potentia.

Knowledge is power. Attributed to Francis Bacon, but I am relatively certain that it found expression amongst classical Roman authors, but I can't find the reference that I had anymore.

Foucault's arguments were slightly different, more complex, stating that all expression is political, and working to the power that cultural expression, which includes knowledge, can have. At least I think so, it has been a long time since I last read about him, and haven't read the original.


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