It's really disappointing that even some of my favorite other philosophers cling to the senseless idea that power corrupts you. We have free will and we retain it no matter how powerful we grow (I know you won't disagree with this when I spell it out), so just where is this idea coming from? The only thing you could mean by 'corrupt' in that sentence that doesn't contradict free will is that having lots of power simply raises the temptation. But that too falls apart once you think about what temptation actually is.

Everyone would do the right thing if they could do so at no cost to themselves (emotional or psychological costs count). The reason people do evil is because they're forced to choose between their conscience and physical or psychological pleasure of some sort. That's what temptation is: the opportunity cost of being good. Obviously, being more powerful doesn't make it less fun, or less physically pleasurable to do the right thing. Except insofar as it changes what the right thing is (eg. if your power rises above a certain threshold, you have an option you didn't have before, and that option has very high temptation to do wrong). But that's circumstantial and can just as easily go the opposite direction.

In fact, good people have a duty to pursue power and get as much of it as they can because without it they can't do any good for the world. The idea that "Good people should avoid power because they know they can't trust themselves not to use it for evil" is just depressing to hear people express. That's called despair! How do you expect to solve any problems if you don't think good people should allow themselves to have great power?

The same thing applies to knowledge. You should never pass an opportunity to learn something at zero cost and zero risk (time costs count obviously but I feel that if I don't say so explicitly someone will take the opportunity to straw man me). Even sensitive information, like someone else's password, you might as well ascertain if you can, because knowledge in the hands of a good person is strictly beneficial to the forces of good. You never know what might come up. At worst, the information will never be useful and they will never know that you "violated their privacy".

Also, if you're a christian, it is rather inconsistent for you to believe that power corrupts people since you believe that there is a being in which infinite goodness coincides with infinite power.


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