Shields and Spears: Hoarding Knowledge in Modern Times

spear shield

The international investigation on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to Beijing was poorly managed, said Dr. Don J. Wyatt in his keynote address, “The Spear and Shield of Knowledge,” at Bowdoin’s 2014 Kemp Symposium. China and other countries were mystifyingly slow to contribute their technology to the search – but Wyatt believes he knows why.

A professor of history at Middlebury College specializing in Chinese history and philosophy, Wyatt explained that China’s guarded role in the plane search is rooted in the ancient past. He described the country’s protectionist outlook with regard to historical commodities such as silk and porcelain, whose technological secrets were kept closely under wraps (and to illustrate the danger of taking such secrecy too far, he told an ancient Chinese fable involving paradoxical weaponry). Read more here.

The Kemp Symposium,“Visions of Reality: Science and Other Means of Seeking Knowledge,” brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to examine the diverse means of creating technical knowledge before and after the birth of modern science.

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