“The growth of knowledge far outstrips the growth of being.”
“We are like children restlessly sitting at the controls of a locomotive.”
The explosion of AI is only the latest phenomenon demonstrating how far behind we as people and as a people are. It is not about having too much or knowing too much. It is not being advanced enough to handle what we increasingly have and know (or think we know).
Philosopher Jacob Needleman (1934-2022) wrote:
Both in our civilization and in our personal lives, the growth of knowledge far outstrips the growth of being, endlessly complicating our existence and taking away from us far more than it gives us. In relation to the advances and applications of scientific knowledge, we are like children restlessly sitting at the controls of a locomotive. Without a corresponding growth of inner, moral power, our intellectual power seems now to be carrying us toward disaster—in the form of the catastrophic destruction of the natural world, in the decay of ethical values, in the secrets of biological life falling under the sway of blind commerce or blind superstition, and above all, in the impending worldwide nuclear terror. May we not therefore say, as Plato said 2,500 years ago, that such “knowledge” as we have does not really deserve the label knowledge? Can we listen to him as he tells us that knowledge without virtue can neither bring us good nor show us truth? This is to say that such knowing as we have is not transformational; it does not elevate our level of being and it does not nourish the development of moral power.
It is only the fully developed human being, which means only the fully developed human mind in which the intuition of objective value is an essential component, that can see the world as it really is, and that, through its action upon our instincts and impulses, can lead us toward the capability to act in the service of the Good.
Foreword to The Gospel of Thomas: The Gnostic Wisdom of Jesus (2005) by Jean-Yves Leloup