In a world where sociologists routinely call ours a `knowledge society' and `Chief Knowledge Officers' (`CKOs') occupy top posts in universities, corporations and public sector agencies, it may come as a shock to learn that the pursuit of knowledge is becoming an endangered species of human endeavour. A sign of the times is that `knowledge management' — `KM' to its followers — sounds less like a contradiction in terms than a potentially lucrative career path. The very idea that knowledge is something that needs to be `managed' suggests that its growth should not be left in a wild state: at best it remains unused and at worst it wastes resources. Yet, this managerial mindset goes against the grain of the last 2500 years of Western thought, which has valorised the pursuit of knowledge `for its own sake', regardless of its costs and benefits. What has changed in the interim? Has it been for the better? And if not, what can be done about it?