Philosophy

the meaning of “Ignorance is bliss” – True or False

8 Mins read
ignorance is bliss
ignorance is bliss

Lets figure out the true meaning of the phrase – Ignorance is bliss – is it true or false? Is ignorance bliss or is it just a state of mind, that gives you a feeling of bliss rather than the actual bliss. We always say that what you don’t know won’t hurt you, that if you are oblivious to what may be going wrong around you, you may not be affected by it, but that only when you know or seek the answers will you get hurt.

Is this true or is it what we want to think? Is it practical or is it our way of trying to feel secure without actually being secure. Maybe it is our evolutionary response towards fearful things and experiences that we know may hurt us if we dig deep into.

Its like religion, believing in it is so fulfilling and nourishing, but once you start digging into the truth and nature of the world, you find out that your faith may become quite rocky and unstable. Does that mean the religion stops helping you? Does that mean all the hope and blessings that come with it disappear the moment you figure out the truth? I don’t think so.

Lets take a look at this video from Youtube’s After Skool and get to know this concept better:

The Meaning of Ignorance is Bliss

Ignorance is bliss – basically means that living in a state of not knowing what may affect you negatively will make you happier and fill you with a blissful feeling. This would have otherwise not been the case if you knew what may affect you negatively.

Examples of ignorance is bliss:

  1. Lets say you are in a relationship and you suspect your spouse of cheating. Going through his phone and keeping tabs on him will result in you finding the truth. Which may not be to your liking. However, if you suspect him of cheating but yet still choose to trust him, let him have his privacy and get lost in his charms and affection, you will find out that the fear of him cheating, and the truth of it, won’t affect you because you won’t be paying attention to it, hence, it would be like everything is fine. Ignorance is bliss.
  2. Take a child whose parents are on the blink of a divorce. If the parents choose to keep the matter as secretive as possible, the child won’t know what is happening. In this state he will be ignorant to the truth. The parents may probably continue acting as a family despite getting divorced later on. And even though the child will figure it out eventually (coz kids are smart as hell), he will be having blissful moments before then. Ignorance is bliss.
  3. You have heard before that looking into the past of your spouse is a terrible idea, and there is a reason for that, ignorance is bliss. If you become ignorant to whether your spouse cheated before or how many people he has been with, you won’t suspect him at every turn. You won’t feel insecure about yourself based on the pretty women he has been with. However, if you go digging for his past, you will find yourself filled with lots of insecurities and doubts in your relationship.

What people believe about ignorance

People believe that ignorance is the key to having a happier life. This is because the world is so nasty, you are bound to bump into something that may hurt you at every turn. This is to say that you can’t protect yourself from everything. But if you choose to not know everything then you will have less things to worry about. Perfect logic right?

I have to admit, I have always appreciated the phrase from the old TV Series 1000 Ways To Die:

There’s a lot of ways to wind up dead. The fact that we survive at all is a miracle. Because, every day we livewe face… 1000 WAYS TO DIE.”

1000 ways to die

The very truth of this statement is that we face a lot of things that may affect us negatively everyday. Which is to say that the fact that we survive each day is a miracle. Meaning – we survive without actively trying to survive because we just do without our knowledge. Its simply to say that its useless to trouble yourself with things that you cannot change. Therefore, be ignorant to them, because you can’t do anything about it.

Let’s take the examples I gave above – in each and every one of them there is nothing that would have been done to change the situation, maybe something would have been attempted, but does that mean a difference would have been made?

  1. In the case of the cheating spouse. The wife knowing about the husband cheating wouldn’t have changed the fact that he was cheating, and neither would her ignorance to that fact. He would still have cheated. However, if she wasn’t ignorant she would have figured it out and tried to fix it. Or the least, divorced him – which wouldn’t be a good thing for either one of them. What if she stayed ignorant – maybe her husband would have understood the error of his ways and stopped it without anyone ever getting hurt. Or he would have kept it up but still been there for his wife in the pretense of a ‘good husband’.
  2. What about the child with parents on the blink of a divorce? The child being kept in a state of ignorance wouldn’t affect his life. He would still be playful, joyful and happy because regardless of his parents separating, they would still make sure they are there for him. However, if he knew what was about to happen and the effects of it, he would live in a state of fear and worry. Telling him of the divorce wouldn’t have changed the fact that they were getting divorced, but regardless of the divorce they knew they would still be there for their kid.
  3. In the last example you can see that looking into the past in no way changes the state of your spouse’s relationship with you. It would be hard to know if he has changed or not changed, but he still loves you and that speaks volumes. Digging into his past in no way means he doesn’t love you, it only makes you doubt him and suspect things that may not be the case. Ignorance is bliss. His past may not be a reflection of who he is today, the only way to know him is to judge him based on how you know him and how he treats you.

With all of that said, should we then conclude that ignorance is bliss? Well, for us to understand this better we have to consider the other side of the coin. What happens when you are not ignorant. Do bad things come for you when you become less ignorant? Do you become more confident and well equipped to dealing with the negative things that come your way?

What Ignorance Actually Is

Jordan Peterson, A clinical psychologist and professor of Psychology in Canada, once said this in his daughter’s podcasts:

You are going to pay a price for everything you do and everything that you don’t do. You do not get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you are going to take. That’s it.

jordan b peterson

We believe that ignorance puts us in this little bubble of security and assurance. This is because what we don’t know won’t hurt us. We love feeling like everything is blissful and we remain ignorant to those things that may hurt us. But like Jordan Peterson says, “we do not get to choose to not pay a price. We only get to choose which poison we are going to take. That’s it.”

Lets take our examples one last time:

  1. In the case of the cheating spouse. Knowing about it, inquiring about it and digging deeper to find out the truth will reveal the person’s true nature if compared to who he is today. Which is – A person who values short term happiness and sexual pleasures over a long term loving and lasting relationship. This discovery will help you decide if he is redeemable or if you should kick him out of the house, like the fool he is. At the moment it will affect you negatively. But in the long run you will heal, learn to love and trust again. You will eventually end up in a more trustworthy solid relationship.
  2. In the case of the couple on the blink of a divorce. Telling the kid about the divorce will devastate him and make him very scared and worried. However, it will build him up seeing how his parents are willing to take care of him and get along with each other despite them falling out of love. He will feel loved and cared for unconditionally. This is because despite what the world throws at his parents, they won’t let it get in the way of their love for him. At the moment it will hurt and disrupt the peace, but over time it will rebuild it and make it stronger.
  3. And finally the last example. Digging into the past of your spouse is an invasion of privacy, but if he is okay with it, then knowing what he has done, who he has been with can help you get to understand him better. You may discover that he doesn’t date people for looks but for character. That he may have cheated but always came clean and made strides to never do it again. You will find out that you will get to love him more after that. Or maybe it may be the opposite. In which case you will have stopped yourself from wasting your sweet sweet time.

We do not get to choose what may affect us. Whether we are aware of it or not, just because we are ignorant to a given situation doesn’t mean that the repercussions that stem from it won’t affect us. It will, we just won’t know it till we are hit so hard we can’t stand up.

This is very true when it comes to the pursuit of happiness. When I started this blog I was on a mission to figure out the true pathway and secret to happiness. However, half way through it I figured out one thing. The pursuit of happiness is a dangerous and endless pursuit. It’s engraved in vanity and despair with utter disregard to the truth of the world, the highest good for us and the society we live in.

Bottom line

Frank Turek is an American Christian apologist, author, public speaker and radio host. While trying to assert the validity of the truths in the morality of the Bible he said this:

Most people are not on a relentless pursuit of the truth, open to following the evidence where it leads. They’re on a happiness quest, not a truth quest. They reject Christianity because they think doing whatever they want will make them happy. So it’s a heart issue, not a head issue.

frank turek

This is the same thing that applies to most people who believe that ignorance is bliss. They prioritize being happy, or even the mere feeling of being happy rather than true happiness. They prioritize it over the relentless pursuit of the truth around them. Real happiness comes from knowing the truth and acting accordingly. This helps you make the most out of what you got through strategic thinking and emotional intelligence.

Most people neglect knowing what is going wrong around them thinking it will make them safe and happy. What they don’t realize is that they will still get affected either way whether they know it or not.

This should let us all know that the pursuit of happiness isn’t the meaning of life at all. The meaning of life is found in the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth – for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole. Because in so doing one can make the world around them a better, happier and safer place that nourishes them and discourages anything that is based on self deceit and mere impulsive decisions in the name of unsustainable happiness.

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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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