The Pursuit of Knowledge Reading Questions and Answers

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  • IELTS Reading Sentence Completion
  • IELTS Reading Short Answers Questions
  • IELTS Reading Yes/No/Not Given

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IELTS Reading Passage – The Pursuit of Knowledge

The Pursuit of Knowledge

According to the great English lexicographer Samuel Johnson, knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it (Boswell Life vol. 2 p, 383 18 April 1775). In the information-driven world we now inhabit, the latter has assumed a much greater level of importance.

At the time of the European Renaissance, which spanned the fourteenth, fifteenth and si­x-teenth centuries, it was considered possible for the educated, well-read man, the so-called Renaissance man, to possess the sum total of human knowledge. Admittedly, the body of knowledge then available was restricted, being held firmly in check by several important factors; the paucity of books in circulation at that time; the difficulty of acquiring copies of the texts; the need to copy texts by hand; and the cost of doing so. The example of Lupus of Ferrieres’ search for the Arsrhetorica of Fortunatus in the ninth century was repeated again and again throughout the Latin West until the momentous advent of printing in the middle of the fifteenth century. Printed books saw the end of some of the practical limitations placed on the spread of human knowledge. The first revolution in Information tech­nology had begun.

Renaissance man was rapidly left behind by this development; and, henceforth, it would be increasingly difficult for the educated man to cope with the expansion of knowledge that flowed through Europe via the medium of movable type. In today’s world, the scenario could hardly be more different. The most well-read indi­vidual, whom we could legitimately call information man, or homo sapiens, would certainly be considerably more knowledgeable than Renaissance man, Yet, because of the ever-expand­ing increase in the sum total of human knowledge over the latter half of the last millen­nium, and the changes in the world of technology, easy access to information has reduced the stature of the educated individual. All that he can hope to be now is an expert in a narrow field, not the all-knowing polymath of yesteryear.

It Is not surprising to see people overwhelmed by the unlimited stream of Information. There is simply too much of it to assimilate, and it is difficult to know what to do with the data once it is received; which brings us back to Johnson’s words. But we need to add an­other dimension to his dictum, one which was probably true in his time, but is even more pertinent today: people need to be able to live the knowledge they acquire and not just know it or know where to find it. Our deficiency in this regard is, perhaps, the most singular failure of the modern information age.

Acquisitiveness is a natural human Instinct. Children collect cards of footballers, or whatever is the latest fad. Stamps, coins and books are targets for children and adult collectors (dike, as their basic instincts are played upon and nurtured by market forces. The desire to gather knowledge is nothing new. What is astonishing, however, Is the way in which people treat the knowledge they have collected. It is as if the collection were an end in Itself; and herein lies the great deception, We have turned the world into a large machine of informa­tion, a veritable vortex into which we are all being Inexorably sucked, People beaver away amassing raw data, labouring under the misapprehension that they are doing something worthwhile when all that is really happening is the movement of information from one place to another, We should hardly be surprised that, as this becomes apparent, disillusion­ment and stress in the workplace arc becoming sadly the all too common consequences.

The world Is not really richer for having the current wealth of knowledge at its fingertips. It is like standing amongst the wealth of the British Library, the Bibliothèque Nationals in Paris or other great libraries and not being able to read. So what is to be done? Training in collecting and processing relevant information, followed by learning to collate, analyse and select or discard is the obvious solution, But there is such a dearth of people who know what to do that one remains pessimistic.

The pursuit of knowledge is sadly not all it is cracked up to be.

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Questions 1-7

Complete the sentences below. Use NO MORE THAN FOUR WORDS from the passage to complete each blank space. Write your answers in Blank spaces next to 1-7 on your answer sheet.

  1. Samuel Johnson was an___________________ .
  2. Renaissance man supposedly possessed all__________________.
  3. The spread of knowledge changed with the all important___________________.
  4. According to the writer, today’s information man knows more than_______________.
  5. The standing of the modern educated man has been diminished by _________________.
  6. The polymath of the Renaissance is described as______________________.
  7. In today’s world, people are weighed down by the endless__________________.

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Questions 8-11 

Answer the questions below. Use NO MORE THAN FOUR WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers next to 8-11 on your answer sheet.

8. How does the writer describe people’s inability in the modern world to use the knowledge that they obtain?
9. What is the desire to collect things described as?
10. According to the author, what has the world turned into?
11. What are the consequences in the workplace of moving large amounts of raw data around?

Questions 12-14 

Do the statements below agree with the information in the Reading Passage? In Boxes 12-14, write:

YES                        if the statement agrees with the information in the passage
NO                          if the statement contradicts the information in the passage
NOT GIVEN           if there is no information about the statement in the passage

Example: The European Renaissance spanned the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
Answer: Yes.

12. As the world has a wealth of knowledge within easy reach, it is now richer.
13. Knowledge processing courses will soon be obligatory for all library workers.
14. The author believes that the pursuit of knowledge is worthwhile.

Want to excel in identifying the writer’s views and claims? Click here to explore our in-depth guide on how to accurately determine Yes, No, or Not Given in the IELTS Reading section.

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Answers for The Pursuit of Knowledge

1. Answer: English Lexicographer
2. Answer: (of) Human Knowledge
3. Answer: Advent of Printing
4. Answer: Renaissance man
5. Answer: Easy access to information/ easily accessible information/ easy information access
6. Answer: All-knowing
7. Answer: Stream of information
8. Answer: The most singular failure
9. Answer: A natural human instinct
10. Answer: A Vortex/ A Veritable Vortex/ A Large information machine
11. Answer: Disillusionment and Stress
12. Answer: No
13. Answer: Not Given
14. Answer: No


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