Myths, Visions and Realities
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Marina van Geenhuizen and Peter Nijkamp
Chapter 1: Creative Cities in a Knowledge Society: Introduction
Marina van Geenhuizen and Peter Nijkamp PROMETHEUS VERSUS EPIMETHEUS Nowadays there is much talk about the ‘knowledge society’. This concept has become rather fashionable and suggests that we live in a new era of human history in which knowledge is the prominent landmark and driver of socioeconomic and technological dynamics. And consequently, we talk about smart regions or cities, smart industries, smart technologies and even about smart knowledge. Clearly, we cannot deny the pervasive importance of knowledge for societal well-being, both locally and globally. But it also ought to be recognized that knowledge generation, acquisition and application have been accepted aspirations in all civilized societies. Ancient Greek history testifies to the critical importance of knowledge for progress and performance; witness the statement of the influential Greek political philosopher and dramatist Euripides, who once claimed – in a period of political turmoil with neighbouring countries – that ‘knowledge is more important than a strong arm’. Insight and foresight are indeed critical success factors for well-being and survival. This is clearly reflected in the names of two mythological figures in Ancient Greece, Prometheus and Epimetheus. These were two brothers, of divine origin, who were concerned about the fate of mankind and dared to challenge the ancient gods. The meaning of Prometheus is ‘the person who thinks ahead’, whereas the meaning of Epimetheus is ‘the person who thinks too late’. The two brothers managed to take fire from heaven to bring life into bodies made out of clay. The revenge of Zeus was terrible, as...