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Does Knowledge Create Ego in Humans?

In the end, with universal education attainment being indisputably an important goal to achieve in order to achieve equality and eliminate poverty, it all comes down to the individual and what they choose to do with the powers they are given.
09/11/2015 06:47pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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(Photo: Path Doc/ Used under license)

Being egotistical, the act of indulging in activities benefiting one's self often at the expense of others, is something everyone has been guilty of at one point or another. After all, a person's first instinct is always self-preservation and domination over those perceived to be weaker. One form of vulnerability is the lack of knowledge or intelligence, which is perceived as a fault needed to be amended before successful integration into society. However, one question that requires an answer to regards to whether or not there is a boundary between knowing adequate and knowing overly extensive amounts of information; or whether the latter category exists at all.

Having what is thought to be a profound level of understanding in a subject often makes a person feel superior to others, giving them a sense of satisfaction when they are asked to explain a topic. However, although having a unique interest allows one to educate others, the power received naturally inflates their egos, causing them to possibly becoming scornful of learners who grasp understanding at a slower pace than their counterparts. This leads to the formation of the classic 'know-it-all', someone who believes they alone hold the answers to everything worth knowing, brushing aside claims contradictory to their views.

On the other hand, people who are truly knowledgeable on a broader scale, picking up useful and interesting information here and there, understand the vastness of the universe and how insignificant humans really are. The daunting and mysterious nature of everything yet to be known humbles people instead, opening up their minds to accept more information and allowing their active participation in riveting debates with people who perceive the world in a different way. These scholars have the wisdom to avoid performing narcissistic and egotistical actions, marking them as different from the arrogant know-it-all.

Finally, we have the average person, neither a scholar hungry for knowledge nor someone who believes blindly in what they think they know. Needless to say, with knowledge comes power and the responsibility to look out for the people who cannot access higher education, which is usually costly and time-consuming. Although the absorption of greater amounts of information can have an impact on ego, whether positive or negative, the effects will be offset if people were to focus not on the status education grants them but on how they can use what they know to create a higher quality of life for both themselves and others.

The link between egotistical activities and knowledge is a difficult, and perhaps unnecessary, one to prove. They are not exclusively related, and many factors including the culture they were raised in, family dynamics, and the attitudes of their professors and teachers all play a role in dictating their use of knowledge, whether for self-gain or for the building of foundation for greater growth. In the end, with universal education attainment being indisputably an important goal to achieve in order to achieve equality and eliminate poverty, it all comes down to the individual and what they choose to do with the powers they are given.