The Logic of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Logic
Dr. Mohamed Ben-Ruwin Speech,
as the Scholar of the Academic Year: 2006–2007.
At The Freshmen Convocation.
Texas A&M International University
August 23, 2007
Thanks Dr. Jones for these kind words.
Thanks to all of my colleagues
who participated in the process, which brought me to this place.
Especially, Dr. Roberto Heredia who initiated all of this.
Thanks to my colleagues
who competed with me for this award, and I just want to let you know
that you are great scholars.
It only happened that I was luckier than you
when the decision was made.
And thanks to all of you, in advance,
for giving me this opportunity to share with you some of what I know.
I hope I will make sense, but if I do not (it will not be the first time).
Please trash it and move on. Life is very short to waste, but always
remember to do the right thing.
Let me start by greeting you all with my favorite greetings
and my favorite greeting is:
* Peace : ... is, what all of us, should start from.
* Peace : ... is, what all of us, should work for,
*And peace: … should be, to every one of us,
one of the most important goals.
WHY? … Some of you might ask?
And my answer is very simple:
Because without peace,
there will be no meaningful and happy life.
My Dear Friends.
I would like to take this opportunity today
to remind myself … and ... all of you
about the most important component of peace.
This component is very essential
and without it,
a desirable peace will not be achieved.
This component is what brings all of us here today.
This component is:
And since I am a political scientist,
I always look to “Knowledge” from a political perspective,
which simply means:
That … POLITICS (to me) … requires … ACCESS …
And … ACCESS … usually leads to … POWER …
And … POWER (in order to be useful and productive) …
must be based on … KNOWLEDGE.
For this reason,
I have entitled my short speech before you today: “The Logic of Knowledge
… and … The Knowledge of Logic.”
What do I mean by this?
“First:” By the logic of knowledge? I mean:
* That the power we claim as scholars, must be based on knowledge.
* That knowledge is all what we offer to those who want to seek it.
* And that knowledge is what we expect others to recognize in us.
* In other words, I would argue that all of us, here in this place:
ALL OF US:
Walk, talk, and work in the name of knowledge.
I would also argue that knowledge has become the most important goal
try to acquire in these rapidly changing societies,
and the interest of knowledge, especially in the last years,
has become very exciting.
What does this mean?
It means that the Intellectual assets of every community of scholars have become
more important than any other assets any one of us can think of.
Let me give you just one example, and I think you would agree with me
That the main reason this country is more powerful today
than any other country
is simply because of the amount of knowledge it has.
Meaning that mastering the possession of information, facts, ideas,
and all that can be known ...
is where and why … America is ahead today
is where and why … America has the leverage today
And for this reason,
no one, and I say no one, can doubt today,
that America is the most powerful country on earth
and it is the undisputed leader of the Western Civilization.
But by this, I do not mean:
what professor Francis Fukuyama concluded in his, influential article, in 1989, entitled:
“The End of History,”
That it means:
“… the end of any alternative on the world stage
that can compete with the West ….”
What Professor Samuel Huntington argues in his
controversial article (in 1993) entitled:
“The Clash of Civilization.”
That we are in the stage of what he called:
“The West against the rest.
I believe that the real question for America and all Americans is not whether America is powerful or not …
(Everyone knows the answer to this question).
I believe the real question for America today, is:
How can America become a great country?
This is indeed the real challenge for America today.
Because, my friend, to be powerful is something you can prove:
All you need to do is to ask your challenger to step outside
and beat the hell out of him,
But to be a great is totally something else:
Greatness is a recognition given to you by others;
it is not something you can impose on them.
My friends, we need to remember … America needs to remember …
that the Western Civilization,
is not the only civilization in the history of mankind.
The great British historian:
Arnold Toynbee in his famous work, in 1961, entitled:
“A Study of History.”
Identified 19 major civilizations,
Only five of them exist in the contemporary World.
Therefore, The answer to the question:
How can America become a great country?
is simply to acquire what I would call:
“The Knowledge of Logic.”
And this is the second part of my speech.
I believe for a country, like the United States today, to go
from the state of powerfulness to the state of greatness,
it has to master:
“The Knowledge of Logic.”
Which simply means:
(a) Making knowledge reasonable, affordable, accessible,
and useful to ALL human beings.
And (b) Understanding and utilizing the main principles
of the knowledge of logic.
I would argue that there are at least ten (10) main principles
of the knowledge of logic,
But, on this occasion, let me mention only the four principles
that our university should focus on and consider them a priority.
The First Principle is to believe that: “Knowledge increases when shared.”
Many scholars and thinkers have observed that
one of the amazing and exciting aspect of knowledge is that
it can increase indefinitely,
which is different than any other phenomenon.
Therefore, my friends,
* Let me remind my colleagues that:
“If you want to be more knowledgeable share knowledge.”
“And If you want to be more powerful share power.”
The second principle is to believe that:
Knowledge does not come to people,
people must seek knowledge.
I believe it is essential for our students, and especially the freshmen,
and all students anywhere,
who want to be knowledgeable to recognize this basic fact.
So, let me take this opportunity:
(a) To remind our students that:
“Teachers cannot teach those who do not want to learn.”
And (b) to remind our students that in the end:
No one will think for you,
No one will eat for you,
No one will drink for you,
No one will be happy for you.
And no one … will be you … But you.
So Learn … for your own sake.
* And the good news, my dear students, is that:
like the old saying goes:
“When the students are ready … The teacher will come.”
The third principle is to believe that:
“Serving knowledge is the noblest profession we can think of.”
So, let me remind every employee in our university,
and all those who work in any educational institution,
and also those who try to help and support any educational institution,
That you are in the right place,
That you are doing the right thing,
That you are serving a noble cause.
That you should be proud of yourself,
and that all of us, and everybody else,
should appreciate what you do … and … be proud of you.
The fourth and final principle is to believe that:
“Knowledge reduces conflict.”
I am convinced that the more knowledgeable we are
the more peaceful we will be.
So when we see that we are engaging
in too many conflicts … and … too many hostilities,
it is indeed, my friends, a clear sign of ignorance.
Because I do believe:
(a) that knowledgeable people do not solve their problems
by fighting each other …
they solve their problems through
dialogue, persuasion, negotiation, and compromises.
And (b) that knowledgeable people understand, tolerate, respect,
and help others … they fight only in self defense.
Finally, let me conclude with this personal thought:
“That knowledge, to me, is not about
what can I get out of some place … or … something,
rather it is about
how I will be remembered … when I leave that place … or … that thing.
My dear friends,
This is just some of what I know,
I believe I am right
but I am willing to change my opinion
if someone would convince me otherwise.
Thank you so much for listening to me,
Thank you so much for giving me this great opportunity
to be in this place.
It is indeed an honor for me to speak to great people like you.
And I hope and pray:
that I will be … what you think I am … a scholar.
Dr. Mohamed Ben-Ruwin