Ignorance is not bliss
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In the world there are numerous lessons that can be learned either from experience or out of curiosity. People who are ignorant are the ones who do not know the essential, practical knowledge that they need to know in order to keep their position as thoughtful, social beings. Therefore, the quote, “Ignorance is bliss,” by Cypher in the movie “The Matrix” cannot possibly be true. Ignorance is not bliss, because ignorance causes conflicts between people, makes chances become a big part of life, and makes fallacies into truths. Plato’s equation of “Knowledge = True, Justifiable Belief,” strictly applies to this topic as it is related to knowing the reality and knowing the false belief.
The world today is full of conflicts. Some of them are religious, like Iraq conflict, and some are political, like the internal troubles in Ukraine between the Democratic Party and the Communist party. All of these conflicts are caused by ignorance that creates clashes between certain people. To name one specifically is the U.S.-Iraq conflict. It has been ongoing for more than three decades, and still, because of the different thoughts and ideologies that the two countries hold, the conflict is present. Unless there is a “true, justifiable belief” for the two countries, the war will never end.
In addition to the international conflicts, similar conflicts happen between some individuals or groups in smaller scales. The internal problem in the United States between the black Americans and the white Americans is one of those smaller-scale conflicts. The only solution to resolve these conflicts is to understand and respect each other’s rights and freedoms. Ignorance would only deepen the conflicts between people, and thus it cannot be bliss. The “true, justifiable belief” in a democratic world is that all men are free and have individual freedom as human beings. If this “knowledge” were applied to the ethnic conflicts in the U.S. and abroad, these conflicts would not be necessary. This shows that knowledge brings happiness, and ignorance does not.
Another point that explains why ignorance cannot be bliss is that it makes people “vulnerable to chance” (Grayling’s quote from “The Meaning of Things”). People who are ignorant can be easily distracted or tricked, due to the fact that they are “strangers maples in a foreign land” (Grayling). Since these “unenlightened ones” have no reasons or thoughts on why or how they can live better, their lives would only depend on how lucky or unlucky they are that day. This is living a life without meanings or purposes. Whether it is practical or theoretical knowledge, people must be able to “learn, unlearn, and relearn”, or they will become the “illiterates of the twenty-first century” (Alvin Toffler).
If ignorance is bliss meaning spiritual joy, or ecstatic state, does ignorance bring happiness like satisfaction, joy, or good luck? Most of the time it does not, and even if it does, it would have done so “by the merest chance.” In the movie “The Matrix”, Cypher eventually dies, and therefore, ignorance is destroyed. Like that, ignorance cannot survive as it is on the weaker side of the survival of the fittest, suggested by Charles Darwin in his evolutionary theory. Knowledge is on the more fitting side of the scale, and thus knowledge is the key to defeating ignorance. All of these reasons are why ignorance is not necessary – it has no advantage or feature that makes it bliss.
Finally, ignorance makes false information true. When false information becomes true, it will lead a person to live a biased, unclear life, as it prevents the person from knowing or understanding the reality. Illusions and misconceptions will be true to the ignorant people. False knowledge will give a person wrong results when trying to figure out the reality, and when the reality is reveled to the ignorant people, they will have hard times accepting it. As opposed to that, the knowledgeable people can see the world more broadly and realistically, so they can realize the facts of the world easily. Ignorant people only see the world within their reach and sight.
In the story, “Blind Man and the Elephant,” a blind person tries to picture what the object in front of him is like, but because of the limitations to his knowledge by just touching, he gets a wrong idea of what the object, an elephant, looks like, and he fights over it with other blind people who have totally different opinions. Ignorant people are just like blind people in the story. They can obtain partial information from the rudimentary knowledge that they hold, but they cannot get the bigger, clearer picture of the information they look for. Ignorant people, therefore, have opinions for themselves, but they do not have “true, justifiable belief”. Ignorance, therefore, cannot be bliss. It is blindness from seeing the reality.
There are lots of people who are ignorant. But there are people who are ignorant and not trying, and there are people who are trying to learn the reality despite their ignorance. Cypher’s quote, “Ignorance is bliss,” is a foolish way of thinking that the world would be happier if they were uninformed of anything. Ignorance means no knowledge, or in other words, no “true, justifiable belief” for everyone, and incompatibility between people will result, which will only bring confusions and troubles. From experience and curiosity, people must learn in order to survive, and to be able to live a social life with others.