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Ignorance is where someone or something is uninformed. This should not be confused with being unintelligent, as one's level of intelligence and level of education or general awareness are not the same. The word "Ignorant" is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware. The term may be used specifically (e.g. "One can be an expert in math, and totally ignorant of history.") or generally (e.g. "an ignorant person.") -- although the second use is used less as a descriptive and more as an imprecise personal insult.

The concept of ignorance has social and legal implications. The legal principle that ignorantia juris non excusat, literally "ignorance of the law is no excuse", stands for the proposition that the law applies also to those who are unaware of it.

See also


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ignorance is the condition of being uninformed or uneducated; i.e., lacking knowledge or information.

Sourced

  • Ignorance of one’s misfortunes is clear gain.
  • Ignorance plays the chief part among men, and the multitude of words; but opportunity will prevail.
  • He said that there was one only good, namely, knowledge; and one only evil, namely, ignorance.
  • He declared that he knew nothing, except the fact of his ignorance.
  • All wisdom is folly that does not accommodate itself to the common ignorance.
  • Knowledge and truth may be in us without judgment, and judgment also without them; but the confession of ignorance is one of the finest and surest testimonies of judgment that I know.
  • So long as the mother, Ignorance, lives, it is not safe for Science, the offspring, to divulge the hidden causes of things.
  • Ignorance is the mother of devotion.
  • From ignorance our comfort flows.
    The only wretched are the wise.
  • To each his suff’rings; all are men,
    Condemn’d alike to groan,—
    The tender for another’s pain,
    Th’ unfeeling for his own.
    Yet ah! why should they know their fate,
    Since sorrow never comes too late,
    And happiness too swiftly flies?
    Thought would destroy their paradise.
    No more; where ignorance is bliss,
    ’T is folly to be wise.
    • Thomas Gray, repr. In Poetical Works, ed. J. Rogers (1953). Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, stanza 10 (written 1742, published 1747). [[1]]
  • Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.
  • If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
  • Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education & free discussion are the antidotes of both.
  • "Man," I cried, "how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!"
  • To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.
  • A truly refined mind will seem to be ignorant of the existence of anything that is not perfectly proper, placid, and pleasant.
    • Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, Ch. 5 - Something Wrong Somewhere (1855-1857)
  • Blind and naked Ignorance
    Delivers brawling judgments, unashamed,
    On all things all day long.
  • Ignorance never settles a question.
  • Ignorance gives one a large range of probabilities.
  • He that voluntarily continues ignorant is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces.
    • Samuel Johnson, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 336.
  • I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.
    • Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I, spoken by Lady Bracknell (1895)
  • There are, however, some potentates I would kill by any and all means at my disposal. They are Ignorance, Superstition, and Bigotry — the most sinister and tyrannical rulers on earth.
    • Emma Goldman, responding to audience questions during a speech in Detroit (1898); as recounted in Living My Life (1931), p. 207; quoted by Annie Laurie Gaylor in Women Without Superstition, p. 382
  • Bring your ignorance to the Holy Spirit, the great teacher, who by His precious truth will lead you into all truth.
    • W. P. Mackay, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 337.
  • To be ignorant of one's own ignorance is to be in an unprogressive, uninspired state of existence.
  • It's innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn't.
    • Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill
  • If one neglects the laws of learning, a sentence is imposed that he is forever chained to his ignorance.
    • Sterling W. Sill, The Power of Believing, (1968), p. 29.
  • There are three degrees of comparison: stupido, stupidissimo, and tenore.
    • Pietro Mascagni, in Scott Beach, Musicdotes, (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1977), p. 94.
  • If ignorance is bliss, then knock the smile off my face.
    • Zack de la Rocha, "Settle for Nothing", Rage Against the Machine (album), 1992
  • Ignorance is death. A closed mind is a catafalque.
    • Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life, (New York: Ballantine Books, 1998), p. 69.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

IGNORANCE (Lat. ignorantia, from ignorare, not to know), want of knowledge, a state of mind which in law has important consequences. A well-known legal maxim runs: ignorantia juris non excusat ("ignorance of the law does not excuse"). With this is sometimes coupled another maxim: ignorantia facti excusat (" ignorance of the fact excuses"). That every one who has capacity to understand the law is presumed to know it is a very necessary principle, for otherwise the courts would be continually occupied in endeavouring to solve problems which by their very impracticability would render the administration of justice next to impossible. It would be necessary for the court to engage in endless inquiries as to the true inwardness of a man's mind, whether his state of ignorance existed at the time of the commission of the offence, whether such a condition of mind was inevitable or brought about merely by indifference on his part. Therefore, in English, as in Roman law, ignorance of the law is no ground for avoiding the consequences of an act. So far as regards criminal offences, the maxim as to ignorantia juris admits of no exception, even in the case of a foreigner temporarily in England, who is likely to be ignorant of English law. In Roman law the harshness of the rule was mitigated in the case of women, soldiers and persons under the age of twenty-five, unless they had good legal advice within reach (Dig. xxii. 6.9). Ignorance of a matter of fact may in general be alleged in avoidance of the consequences of acts and agreements, but such ignorance cannot be pleaded where it is the duty of a person to know, or where, having the means of knowledge at his disposal, he wilfully or negligently fails to avail himself of it (see Contract).

In logic, ignorance is that state of mind which for want of evidence is equally unable to affirm or deny one thing or another. Doubt, on the other hand, can neither affirm nor deny because the evidence seems equally strong for both. For Ignoratio Elenchi (ignorance of the refutation) see Fallacy.


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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Lat. in, not, and gnarus, knowing)

Ignorance is lack of knowledge about a thing in a being capable of knowing. Fundamentally speaking and with regard to a given object ignorance is the outcome of the limitations of our intellect or of the obscurity of the matter itself. In this article it is the ethical aspect and consequences of ignorance that are directly under consideration. From this point of view, since only voluntary and free acts are imputable, ignorance which either destroys or lessens the first-named characteristic is a factor to be reckoned with. It is customary then to narrow somewhat the definition already given of it. It will, therefore, be taken to mean the absence of information which one is required to have. The mere want of knowledge without connoting any requirement on the part of a person to possess it may be called nescience.

So far as fixing human responsibility, the most important division of ignorance is that designated by the terms invincible and vincible. Ignorance is said to be invincible when a person is unable to rid himself of it notwithstanding the employment of moral diligence, that is, such as under the circumstances is, morally speaking, possible and obligatory. This manifestly includes the states of inadvertence, forgetfulness, etc. Such ignorance is obviously involuntary and therefore not imputable. On the other hand, ignorance is termed vincible if it can be dispelled by the use of "moral diligence". This certainly does not mean all possible effort; otherwise, as Ballerini naively says, we should have to have recourse to the pope in every instance. We may say, however, that the diligence requisite must be commensurate with the importance of the affair in hand, and with the capacity of the agent, in a word such as a really sensible and prudent person would use under the circumstances. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the obligation mentioned above is to be interpreted strictly and exclusively as the duty incumbent on a man to do something, the precise object of which is the acquisition of the needed knowledge. In other words the mere fact that one is bound by some extrinsic title to do something the performance of which would have actually, though not necessarily, given the required information, is negligible. When ignorance is deliberately aimed at and fostered, it is said to be affected, not because it is pretended, but rather because it is sought for by the agent so that he may not have to relinquish his purpose. Ignorance which practically no effort is made to dispel is termed crass or supine.

The area covered by human ignorance is clearly a vast one. For our purposes, however, three divisions may be noted.

  • Ignorance of law, when one is unaware of the existence of the law itself, or at least that a particular case is comprised under its provisions.
  • Ignorance of the fact, when not the relation of something to the law but the thing itself or some circumstance is unknown.
  • Ignorance of penalty, when a person is not cognizant that a sanction has been attached to a particular crime. This is especially to be considered when there is question of more serious punishment. We must also note that ignorance may precede, accompany, or follow an act of our will. It is therefore said to be antecedent, concomitant, or consequent. Antecedent ignorance is in no sense voluntary, neither is the act resulting from it; it precedes any voluntary failure to inquire. Consequent ignorance, on the other hand, is so called because it is the result of a perverse frame of mind choosing, either directly or indirectly, to be ignorant. Concomitant ignorance is concerned with the will to act in a given contingency; it implies that the real character of what is done is unknown to the agent, but his attitude is such that, were he acquainted with the actual state of things, he would go on just the same. Keeping these distinctions in mind we are in a position to lay down certain statements of doctrine.

Invincible ignorance, whether of the law or of the fact, is always a valid excuse and excludes sin. The evident reason is that neither this state nor the act resulting therefrom is voluntary. It is undeniable that a man cannot be invincibly ignorant of the natural law, so far as its first principles are concerned, and the inferences easily drawn therefrom. This, however, according to the teaching of St. Thomas, is not true of those remoter conclusions, which are deducible only by a process of laborious and sometimes intricate reasoning. Of these a person may be invincibly ignorant. Even when the invincible ignorance is concomitant, it prevents the act which it accompanies from being regarded as sinful. The perverse temper of soul, which in this case is supposed, retains, of course, such malice as it had. Vincible ignorance, being in some way voluntary, does not permit a man to escape responsibility for the moral deformity of his deeds; he is held to be guilty and in general the more guilty in proportion as his ignorance is more voluntary. Hence, the essential thing to remember is that the guilt of an act performed or omitted in vincible ignorance is not to be measured by the intrinsic malice of the thing done or omitted so much as by the degree of negligence discernible in the act.

It must not be forgotten that, although vincible ignorance leaves the culpability of a person intact, still it does make the act less voluntary than if it were done with full knowledge. This holds good except perhaps with regard to the sort of ignorance termed affected. Here theologians are not agreed as to whether it increases or diminishes a man's moral liability. The solution is possibly to be had from a consideration of the motive which influences one in choosing purposely to be ignorant. For instance, a man who would refuse to learn the doctrines of the Church from a fear that he would thus find himself compelled to embrace them would certainly be in a bad plight. Still he would be less guilty than the man whose neglect to know the teachings of the Church was inspired by sheer scorn of her authority. Invincible ignorance, whether of the law or fact, exempts one from the penalty which may have been provided by positive legislation. Even vincible ignorance, either of the law or fact, which is not crass, excuses one from the punishment. Mere lack of knowledge of the sanction does not free one from the penalty except in cases of censures. It is true then that any sort of ignorance which is not itself grievously sinful excuses, because for the incurring of censures contumacy is required. Vincible and consequent ignorance about the duties of our state of life or the truths of faith necessary for salvation is, of course, sinful. Ignorance of the nature or effects of an act does not make it invalid if everything else requisite for its validity be present. For instance, one who knows nothing of the efficacy of baptism validly baptizes, provided that he employs the matter and form and has the intention of doing what the Church does.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.







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