Bad Men Hoard Knowledge

It would be desirable for the government to authorize people to go into the factories and shops, to see the craftsmen at their work, to question them, to draw the tools, the machines, and even the premises.

There are special circumstances when craftsmen are so secretive about their techniques that the shortest way of learning about them would be to apprentice oneself to a master or to have some trustworthy person do this. There would be few secrets that one would fail to bring to light by this method, and all these secrets would have to be divulged without any exception.

I know that this feeling is not shared by everyone. These are narrow minds, deformed souls, who are indifferent to the fate of the human race and who are so enclosed in their little group that they see nothing beyond its special interest. These men insist on being called good citizens, and I consent to this, provided that they permit me to call them bad men. To listen to them talk, one would say that a successful encyclopedie, that a general history of the mechanical arts, should only take the form of an enormous manuscript that would be carefully locked up in the king's Library, inaccessible to all other eyes but his, an official document of the state, not meant to be consulted by the people. What is the good of divulging the knowledge a nation possesses, its private transactions, its inventions, its industrial processes, its resources, its trade secrets, its enlightenment, its arts, and all its wisdom? Are not these the things to which it owes a part of its superiority over the rival nations that surround it? This is what they say; and this is what they might add: would it not be desirable if, instead of enlightening the foreigner, we could spread darkness over him or even plunge all the rest of the world into barbarism so that we could dominate more securely over everyone? These people do not realize that they occupy only a single point on our globe and that they will endure only a moment in its existence. To this point and to this moment they would sacrifice the happiness of future ages and that of the entire human race.

They know as well as anyone that the average duration of empires not more than two thousand years and that in less time, perhaps, the name Frenchman, a name that will endure forever in history, will be sought after in vain over the surface of the earth. These considerations do not broaden their point of view; for it seems that the word humanity is for them a word without meaning. All the same, they should be consistent! For they also fulminate against the impenetrability of the Egyptian sanctuaries; they deplore the loss of the knowledge of the ancients; they accuse the writers of the past for having been silent or negligent in writing so badly on an infinite number of important subjects; and these illogical critics do not see that they demand of the writers of earlier ages something they call a crime when it is committed by a contemporary, that they are blaming others for having done what they think it honorable to do.


Instead of sharing it to the benefit of the rest of the world, and yet these same men complain of the wisdom of the ancients lost to the present.

Folksonomies: knowledge civilization encyclopedia

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Human (0.939444): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Industrial Revolution (0.560600): dbpedia | freebase | yago
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Form of the Good (0.556552): dbpedia | freebase
Secrecy (0.533263): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book Chapter:  Diderot, Denis (1755), Encyclopédie, Vol. 5 (1755), pp. 635–648A, Paris, Retrieved on 2011-05-30
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: knowledge encyclopedia


    01 JUN 2011

     Religious Ignorance Versus Enlightenment's Education of t...

    William Tyndale Translates the New Testament into English > Contrast > Bad Men Hoard Knowledge
    When a scholar translated the Bible to English so that anyone may read it, he was branded a heretic; however, Diderot admonished specialists who hoarded their knowledge and denied humanity the benefit of their discoveries.


    04 JAN 2013

     Insight is the Greatest Virtue

    Knowledge is the most important moral.
    Folksonomies: virtue ethics
    Folksonomies: virtue ethics