Ignorance can be a strength. The statement sounds absurd, after all, doesn’t power exploit ignorance, and doesn’t ignorance stand in the way of progress? Perhaps, but there’s something paradoxical about it.

Ignorance doesn’t presuppose and certainly lacks the knowledge to be overly cautious, and all progress starts with an acknowledgement of ignorance. I wonder if that wasn’t what Mark Twain had in mind when he said:

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”


About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in inspiration, Life, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Ignorance

  1. Love the quote and your thoughts Don. To live with a beginners mind creates space for us to learn or we can be confident about one thing! we don’t always know!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Don says:

      Thank you Karen. I’ve always loved the Buddhist concept of beginners mind and you’re so right when you say, “We can be confident about one thing, we don’t always know.” So true.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Attwell says:

    The best ignorance is acknowledged. It’s the springboard of discovery, knowledge and understanding. A good place to be. The worst ignorance is unacknowledged. There’s nothing quite so dangerous and destructive as confidence coupled with not knowing what one doesn’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan Antion says:

    I think you’re right, Don. As long as its not coupled with a fear of the unknown, ignorance can be a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Val Boyko says:

    i love this post Don, and the other comments.
    It is surprising, because I have always thought that ignorance keeps us from the truth.
    However I would agree that ignorance can be a strength as it allows us to take risks. When we don’t know enough to be afraid, then we will do things without fear. I think that what Mark Twain was saying.
    When we acknowledge our ignorance it can also be empowering. We begin to seek the answers to our questions, and grow as human beings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don says:

      I love the way you describe how an acknowledgement of ignorance can be empowering, Val. I think the power is always in the questions and not so much in the answers. Great comment.


  5. Hariod Brawn says:

    Slightly tangential, but I was reminded of Alan Watts’ book The Wisdom of Uncertainty. As with ignorance, uncertainty presupposes nothing, or little, and so often there’s value in taking such an approach, it seems. The other extremity is arrogance, which is somewhere no one wants to be. This is the perfect blog post, to my mind, Don – deeply thought-provoking, but succinct. I’m learning from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don says:

      What a marvellous title, Hariod, “The Wisdom of Uncertainty.” You’ve grabbed my interest with this title. Putting it down for future reading. I’ve listened to some of his stuff on You-tube and have found him to be extremely challenging. Learning from me? Hariod you’ve walked along roads I haven’t even begun to touch on. I’m the learner.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan Feniak says:

    I sometimes find myself saying ignorance is bliss. Perhaps there is truth in those words after all.


  7. The only quotes I’d ever heard about ignorance were 1) ignorance is bliss, and 2) ignorance is not an excuse. Now you’ve given me something to think about, Don.


  8. nrhatch says:

    When I think of “ignorance” . . . I think of many of the bold and blatently ridiculous statements that Trump has made in his bid for the presidency. So I’m not convinced that “ignorance” is a good thing . . .

    Especially if someone who is ignorant acts as if they have all the answers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Calvin S says:

    The title, as a word , is not a favourite of mine. Even upon reading this when you first posted, I did a quick wordsearch of my written shtufffs. The results surprised me. I’ve never used it in the files I searched. Doesn’t mean I haven’t mulled it over in one form or another. With context and mean one can imply without using the word. It one of those words which often comes with baggage.

    Now am reading the comments, nodding, and aye-ing along.


    • Don says:

      I think you’re right Calvin. There is a loaded aspect to it and it is often used in a way that is denigrating. Sometimes it has an unnecessary sharpness about it.


      • Calvin S says:

        Don, you said, “I think your right Calvin” twice in the same day. You have to stop that or they’ll revoke my Unawareness Status Card.

        Enjoyed the post. As it coincided at a time I was thinking something through. And the thoughts here blended in to that process.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don says:

        Well, you often are right, Calvin. I warm to your perceptions, fresh and challenging. Glad the post did that for you.


  10. Don, I visited Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut several years ago with my family. I loved seeing the place where he penned many of his classics – he has always been a writing hero to me, and your quote is a great one!

    Liked by 1 person

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