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Is ignorance really bliss?

ignoranceAccording to the age old saying, “Ignorance is bliss”. This implies that we can hope to stay blissfully happy if we remain ignorant of life’s inevitable pitfalls… or so the saying would want to make us believe. To be honest it sounds correct on the surface. After all, when you don’t know how ruthless and unfair the world can be, you are in effect shielded from the mental torment that such knowledge brings. When you don’t know how hard becoming a surgeon or mastering a musical instrument really is, you are more apt to paint a pleasurable vision of these accomplishments with a naive disregard for the intense hard work and drudgery these disciplines require over extended periods of time. When you don’t know how hard it is to love the same person for 30+ years, you are more likely to fetishize the idea of holy matrimony. On the other side of the coin, knowledge of a potentially negative outcome can make us fearful and skittish. For instance, fighters who have previously been knocked out in a combat sport become less likely to take the calculated risks needed for victory in future battles. People who have been fired from previous jobs refrain from asserting themselves at the next one for fear of repeating the same fate. Athletes returning from a serious injury sustained in their competitive sport of choice often lose the verve that once made them unstoppable. At first glance all these points seem to validate the “ignorance is bliss” cliche… but is this really true? Does the saying – ignorance is bliss – really stand up to intensely thoughtful scrutiny on a deeper level? Continue reading Is ignorance really bliss?