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Title: Ignorance  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Good and evil, Communards, Neutrality (philosophy), Capitalism/Selected quote/16, Demagogue
Collection: Belief, Concepts in Epistemology, Ignorance, Knowledge, Philosophical Concepts, Vices
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge).[1] The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used as an insult to describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts. Ignoramus is commonly used in the UK, Ireland, and the US as a term for someone who is willfully ignorant. Ignorance is distinguished from stupidity, although both can lead to "unwise" acts.

Writer Thomas Pynchon articulated about the scope and structure of one's ignorance: "Ignorance is not just a blank space on a person's mental map. It has contours and coherence, and for all I know rules of operation as well. So as a corollary to [the advice of] writing about what we know, maybe we should add getting familiar with our ignorance, and the possibilities therein for writing a good story."[2]

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.


  • Consequences 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Individuals with superficial knowledge of a topic or subject may be worse off than people who know absolutely nothing. As Charles Darwin observed, "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."[3]

Ignorance can stifle learning, especially if the ignorant person believes that he or she is not ignorant. A person who falsely believes he or she is knowledgeable will not seek out clarification of his or her beliefs, but rather rely on his or her ignorant position. He or she may also reject valid but contrary information, neither realizing its importance nor understanding it. This concept is elucidated in Justin Kruger's and David Dunning's work, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments," otherwise known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.

See also

  • Agnotology - study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt
  • Avidyā, ignorance, a concept in Vedanta. Vidya is knowledge. Literally, Avidya is not knowledge.
  • Avidyā (Buddhism), ignorance as a concept in Buddhism
  • General Ignorance, the final round of the BBC Quiz show QI (2003 onwards), which focuses on seemingly easy questions which have obvious but wrong answers.
  • The Book of General Ignorance (2006), a derivative from the BBC QI Quiz show . A book, which aims to address and correct the comprehensive and humiliating catalogue of all the misconceptions, mistakes and misunderstandings in 'common knowledge', and therefore not known as a 'General Knowledge' book, but as a 'General Ignorance' book.
  • Fallibilism is the philosophical principle that human beings could be wrong about their beliefs, expectations, or their understanding of the world, and yet still be justified in holding their incorrect beliefs.
  • Ignorance management, a knowledge management practice that addresses the concept of ignorance in organizations
  • Innocence, a term sometimes used to indicate a naive lack of knowledge or understanding.
  • Jahiliyyah, Islamic concept for "ignorance of divine guidance"
  • Literacy and illiteracy
  • Crimestop described as "protective stupidity".
  • Rational ignorance a voluntary state of ignorance that can occur when the cost of educating oneself on an issue exceeds the potential benefit that the knowledge would provide


  1. ^
  2. ^ Thomas Pynchon Slow Learner, Introduction, pp. 15-16
  3. ^
    On related note, greater knowledge can, if improperly taken account of, work against you. See:

External links

  • Ignorance at PhilPapers
  • The SGFC Director of Ignorance
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