Knowledge is not democratic, it is a regime. That is the clear message from Professor Vincent Hendricks. But do not be discouraged, through hard work and diligence everyone can achieve enlightenment and insight.

There are a lot of things of democratic nature; parliamentary elections, elections for associations, and various boards of directors; statutory instrument orders, regulations, and a wide range of guidelines may have democratic means of anchorage; web portals may act democratically in different aspects from moderation of discussionto political contribution; even information may be democratic, in the sense, that everybody can contribute with, have access to and correct each other’s information. But knowledge is not democratic, knowledge is a regime that you have to submit to in order to become enlightened, educated and capable of making qualified decisions.

Whereas both information and opinions may be false, knowledge does not have the luxury of falsity. Then it would no longer be knowledge, even though it may still very well be information, opinion, belief or one’s own conviction. There are strict demands on knowledge, demands, which have nothing to do with democratic practices. Knowledge is not something that is decided by vote according to democratic principles, it is not something that is determined by a large or marginal majority or other parliamentary forms of decisions and it is not something that you can doubt just because you do not like what turned out to be knowledge. Even worse, knowledge is not something that easily and lenient comes to you just because you open your mouth or turn on the computer and look it up online.

Knowledge is hard work, the result of long and numerous studies, trial-and-error, back to the drawing board, methodological prescriptions for scientific practice, validation, the search for truth and what not scientific method has prescribed as reliable research methods within all sorts of scientific practices from natural across social to human and technology sciences. It is in this search for truth concerning the nature of the world universities, higher educational establishments, and every other institution that has learning as their goal, obtain their natural and societal legitimacy.

There are those who believe that every view of the world is equally important, but this view only substantiates that everything is unimportant. There are also voices that claim that the search for truth is an illusion, either due to its non-existence or because the truth in the end is relative to culture, religion, politics, social class, or other relativistic beacons that has been suggested over time. That there is no truth about the workings of the world would in the end reveal an equally large insight as the claim that there is one – and both require substantiation, argumentation and research, otherwise it would be dogmatism. At the university, we do not try to patent a certain truth that the students must subscribe to. Instead we attempt to provide the students with a number of tools that can be utilized for substantiation and research. It is this toolbox that the students must bring with them on their journey forward, whether they believe there is a truth out there or not, and no matter what they end up doing afterwards. The tools are useful all the same.

Relativism as a response to the scientific search for truth is just one way of describing scientific doubt.  Doubt regarding the significance of culture to science, regarding religion, politics or social class’ significance to the scientific project. We do not yet have the answers to such questions and that is why scientists keep inquiring and asking questions about the world. As an integral part of their work portfolio they must pass this competence of scrutinization on to students as well as the posterity.

Learning how to use the tools in the box demands initiative, energy, diligence, hard work and courage. From time to time my students complain: “This stuff is so difficult”. My answer is always the same: “Tough!” It is not my fault, it is not your fault, it is because the world is a complex entity and its peculiarity and modes of operation is complicated to unveil. Get used to it, keep on studying no matter how tough it gets, it is the entire world you are up against and that requires everything you gotBy working together and mobilizing all the forces of the scientific community, we will hopefully discover new ways of utilizing the tools in the box in order to decode the mysteries about the world’s configuration. This is the anti-elitist position. The elitist would be telling my students that they are too stupid and should find something else to do.

In science there is room for everyone at the expense of time and diligence, but there is nothing democratic about it. The students do not decide what subjects are to be taught at the universities, neither do politicians. Students attend university to acquire knowledge, and politicians mark out the practical framework for this through laws and government orders. It is entirely up to the academic staff at the universities to teach the students, in a responsible way, about our knowledge of cosmos, culture and chaos at the present stage of evolution.

There is nothing democratic about knowledge and science. It is simply a matter of submitting to the regime of knowledge, working hard and as a reward achieve enlightenment, insight, education and sufficient knowledge to carry out informed deliberations, decisions, and actions. This is needed in science as well as in everyday life. If this is to be a knowledge-fascist, then I am a proud and fierce one of the kind.