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Jimena Duque

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Can we still argue that ignorance is bliss?

Is knowing more about what is around us making us happier or were we happier before we had so much information available to us.

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  • Mar 5 2011: While ignorance can be bliss for individuals (or perhaps it will not be if they are affected by their ignorant actions at the end?) but I think ignorance is a curse for societies.

    With ignorance we have wars, suffering and unjust consumption of resources. With ignorance, people in developed countries indirectly support big corporations that abuse local workforce in developing countries. With ignorance we contribute to global warming, affecting ingenious people elsewhere.

    Also with ignorance we enjoy the benefits of democracy and freedom that were brought to us by people that gave their lives to achieve it.

    And finally with ignorance we do not held our governments responsible for actions (coups, invasions, support of dictators etc.) that affect other countries.
  • Mar 5 2011: That is a two edged sword question! Could go either way.
    Example: Global Warming. With or without the knowledge the end results are still going to be the same..
    I would much rather have the info.
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    Mar 5 2011: If you define "bliss" as a synonym for "happiness", then I suppose yes - ignorance is bliss. The more sad things you know (and our world has a good number of such things), the more your mind is bothered by it, even if it doesn't affect you personally, and therefore the less happy you are.

    However, being happier by ignorance is selfish at best, because the fact you don't know about an event doesn't mean it's not happening. Not to mention that this happiness could be for a short term, as illustrated by the Global Warning example, though that's probably a little more long term than, say, Iran's nuclear program.
  • Mar 8 2011: Thomas Gray never suggested that ignorance is bliss. What he wrote was "Where ignorance is bliss / Tis folly to be wise." He was saying that if the majority of people are wrong, it is dangerous to be right.
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    Mar 6 2011: Thanks for your comments!

    I think this is a very abstract idea that can't really be empirically proven therefore I think there is not single answer to it. I believe it could be argued that more than an argument or statement or a truth it is a judgement (and not necessarily a negative one).

    I haven't come across the first person that told me: 'I want to be ignorant so I can be happy'.
    I have met people though, that are lazy and some that lack curiosity, some that read less or are less informed than I am and I have concluded that those people are the ones about whom, I would comment: 'ignorance is bliss'.

    Having said that, I have also met ignorant people, in the real sense of the word, people that can't read or write and live in almost complete isolation, and I have never heard them say that their state of ignorance makes them happy.
  • Mar 6 2011: People will argue about anything, so yes, we can still argue that ignorance is bliss - but if you choose to argue this point with an ignorant person, will they argue back? After all, how can one argue while in a state of bliss?
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    Mar 6 2011: There are some things you learn that you would have preferred not to know at all and in that respect ignorance can seem like bliss. But if you have a thirst for knowledge and that's what keeping you going, there's only one thing you can do to quench it. Learning is a truly rewarding experience. That's why we're all here on TED.
  • Mar 6 2011: Indifference is bliss.
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    Mar 5 2011: i think that this must be end because of negatives effects of ignorance will affect on all humanity with destruction.