Open Post: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

Shhh! I'm being blissfully ignorant! Is that so wrong?!

The older and (somewhat) wiser I become, the more I realize how much in this world sucks.

But, conversely, there are plenty of things which make this world truly amazing.  I am thankful for so many things; among them is the ability to learn.

Way back in 1768, in one of his famous poems, Mr. Thomas Gray wrote “Ignorance is bliss.”

I’d like to know:  Is it really?

I think often about the things I wish I didn’t know…but what about the things which, by knowing of them, changed your life for the better?

Enlighten me, oh fellow philosophers.  I look forward to your wisdom!


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About DrPretzel

Student of philosophy and medicine, mother of 2 Creatures of Mass Destruction (a.k.a. "boys"), Soldier, sister, daughter, friend, cat person, social inept, INTJ, blah, blah, blah...are you even reading this?
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4 Responses to Open Post: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

  1. Charisse says:

    I agree with all, I’d just like to add one thought:

    Much of happiness in life is not about ignorance or awareness, but how we prioritize the things that effect us. I can know many many things but if I have my head in the right place I can still be a very happy person. Or be the wisest person in the world and still be miserable. And again, I may be ignorant of things that could make me much happier, (say a winning lottery ticket tossed out) but that does not make the happiness I have without it any less real or valuable. (btw, on this idea of ignorance or happiness, I LOVE the movie ‘Sliding Doors’!)

    Happiness is not about what we get from life, it’s about what we do with what we got.

    “Remember what the Monty Python boys say: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

  2. Brian Gillum says:

    There may be bliss in ignorance, but it is born of naivete. True, the child who does not yet know the law of gravity may be able to perform tricks that seem to defy those very laws, but the lesson is learned not from a book, but from when gravity decides to enforce her judgement upon the scofflaw. What better proof that gravity is than when one comes crashing to the ground in a heap.

    To live in ignorant bliss means to just merely exist, and not to actually LIVE LIFE TO IT’S FULLEST. We learn from what happens to us, we experience life from being a part of it…both the good things and the bad things that come our way. But to actually grow from these experiences it is almost always from the mistakes we make, from the things we may wish most would not have happened but do.

    Just the opinion of a Warrior Poet Philosopher King, for whatever that may be worth.

    • drpretzel says:

      Very nice.

      So, since gravity brings things crashing to the ground in a heap, might it be argued that it’s actually impossible to remain “blissfully ignorant?”

  3. Majeh85 says:

    I would have to say no. Just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean that all is good. And if you don’t know you have no way of making things better. You may believe something is good in your ignorance, but if you were told the true nature of the situation you might be able to fix or change it so that it’s better than it was in your ignorance, but being ignorant you don’t have this chance.
    I’ll share a personal story of how ignorance affected me, my own and I’m still not sure if for the better. When I moved to Missouri it was because I was told that my baby sis’s dad, Eric, did not have the ability tot support my mom and three children, I was told this by my mother approximately 5 years ago, maybe a little more because i don’t measure time in years. I found out earlier this year that there was no need for me to move to Missouri, and the fact that I did completely baffled Eric.
    Now here are the repercussions of the ignorance forced on me and Eric by my mom. Me and Eric have several misunderstandings that may never get really solved because there are just too many and some were the source of some animosity, on my part. But I’m trying to move past it but it’s a slow process.
    I also would have gone to college right out of high school. That means that I would probably be graduated by now and doing something with my life with a close circle of friends instead of continuing my struggle to learn social norms and etiquette at the age of 25. This part is not set. Because who knows, I may have been a drop out if I stayed in Illinois and be in a much worse situation than I am now. But I will never know, and knowing that my life could have been better kills me to no end. Even though there’s a chance that that things could have been worse, it could have been better.
    Now I would not have met the people I have, would not have become the person I am, if I had stayed in Illinois and for that reason, as well, I am not sure if me moving here was such a bad thing. But the ignorance, and inability to fix it, of the possibilities is not bliss. Neither was the nearly 5 years of not knowing that I didn’t even need to be in Missouri, I worked at a factory I hated, worked at a sub-par FedEx terminal, got fired from a temp job at Target. In all these places I met some pretty awesome people but I can’t wholeheartedly say that it was all worth it, because I don’t know and may never know.
    From the personal to the general, what if the ignorance makes someone believe that things are better than they really are? Would ignorance be bliss then or still not? Again I have to say no, and not just for the reasons I stated at the beginning of this reply.
    If people around the ignorant person know the true matter of things they will become resented, why are they so happy when things suck so bad? And the person that is ignorant may eventually get the feeling of being resented but will never know why as long as they are ignorant to the true nature of a situation.
    What if the situation is good but someone is misinformed to believe the situation is actually bad so that they will improve it even more? The person being misled better not be me and if it is I better never find out. “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.” Okay so the situation could have been made better but what was I ignoring in order to take care of the unbroken situation? What if there really was something else that was wrong but because I was preoccupied with “fixing” the current problem I left it and if got worse? I still see no bliss here.
    Throughout this reply I have not mentioned the broken trust, which is probably the worst part. Going back to my personal example, I can never really trust what my mom tells me ever again, she lied to me and Eric for 5 years and kept us both in the dark, and I may have to figure out other things she may have lied to me about before then that just haven’t arisen yet. No one likes being lied to, and in order to make someone ignorant of something lies are necessary. And if you’re lying to yourself, self-induced ignorance, then you have no one to blame but yourself. I try to make a point to not lie to myself, or anyone else for that matter but most importantly to myself, and I don’t know how people can do so and really live with themselves. If I were to lie to myself about something I would probably be unable to look at myself in the mirror, and that’s no way to live.
    So, as you can see I’m very opinionated on this topic. Sorry if it’s a bit much. 😛

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