Saturday, 27 August 2011

It is better to live in ignorance than in fear...

Hey Bloggers,

Are you a puzzle solver?  Do you need all the answers to every question you have or can you sleep at night and just accept facts?  Do you ever question even your own existence?

'It is better to live in ignorance than in fear of your own knowledge.'

What I mean by the above is that sometimes, it is better to not know the truth as it can be quite upsetting.  Sometimes, we try to seek answers that are nowhere near in our grasp - the principle of philosophy.  Though, knowing these answers will only change our mental state - for the good or worse - so why do we need them?  Is it better to know what happens after death or to just hope we know what happens after death?  Would you rather your partner not know that you had a secret affair with another person 5 years ago despite the fact you've been loyal ever since or come clean to them and risk your very happy marriage?

Above I have suggested two very different interpretations of the statement today, one looks at living in ignorance as a comfort to the inevitable and the other looks at living in ignorance as a diversion from a confrontation that can be avoided.  I want to start with the statement about the couple.  I know many people in the world have affairs but, sometimes rational decisions are not made and both parties in the couple may be to blame for the affair.  I don't mean (for example) the husband and the lady he slept with.  No, I mean the husband and his wife.  Let's say for arguments sake that in this relationship, the husband was a 'stay-at-home Dad' and the wife brought in all of the money.  However, she works 5 days a week and is usually asleep at the weekends.  Could the husband's need for company justify his decision as irrational to find comfort in another woman's physical company?

Hold on there - you may be thinking - this is obviously a doomed relationship and perhaps the husband needs to just come clean to his wife as this will make him happy?  Well, what if I told you that his wife decided to significantly cut down her hours purely to be with her husband and children - she now only works 3 day weeks.  As the husband’s preference is his wife over the other lady he is having an affair with, he immediately calls off his little 'weekly fix' and goes straight back to his wife.  5 years on, the husband has remained completely loyal and the wife is still working 3 day weeks and the husband has even started his own home business which makes up for his wife's salary cut.  Is it better for the wife to live in ignorance?  (Leave your comment below and start it with 'WIFE:')

Now onto the second part of the post and the part I find slightly more interesting.  There are many, many religions in the world with an idea about the inevitability of death - they have an idea as to what happens.  There are also many scientists in the world with an idea about the events before and after death.  Along with that, there are also many philosophers with ideas about death.  Personally, I think philosophy and science run hand in hand when trying to unravel the mystery behind death.  Scientists find the evidence and use philosophical methods to piece together what they believe to be the facts.  I don't think many scientists would agree that they are also philosophers because, obviously, philosophy is not science.  Many times when looking into death, science can only go so far and philosophy is needed to fill in the gaps.

The danger of using philosophy with science is that it can send people mad!  There have been many people - including myself and maybe even some of you readers - that question their own existence.  Or they question whether or not they are alone - how do they know everyone around them thinks?  How do they know everyone around them is not just programmed to say and do things accordingly?  René Descartes – a philosopher -  managed to put his own mind to rest by saying 'I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am'.  So, I think through this statement he partially chose to live in ignorance.  He did not want to look into what it means to exist anymore because he just didn't fully understand it - like we still don't today!  He found this simple, short phrase to settle his own mind and he moved on.  Though, many still seek answers and can't move on - this can end up with them becoming suicidal, depressed and sometimes send them into madness.

Faith; something people are losing today.  When I say faith, I mean faith in a religion, faith in humanity, faith that we are not just a coincidental bunch of cells that happen to make us human and give us one of the most complex brains on the planet.  People who have so much faith dedicated to a religion don't fear death at all.  In fact, they don't fear much because they have faith that everything happens for a reason and have faith in their 'God's' choices.  Nowadays many people say that religious believers are living in ignorance and following a lie, but really?  Would you rather be that relaxed about life or fear the truth?  I am not one of these people that mock religions or am closed off to them I should add. (Leave your comment below and start it with 'DEATH:')

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  1. This was very well written and I think it touches upon something that I've been struggling to answer myself and that drives me nuts at times (and depressed). Take a look at this link:

    "The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it's hostile, but that it's indifferent.." I really feel the same...

  2. ^^ agreed, it was well written. IMO Everyone is ignorant to something. If we think with an open mind, hopefully this may help us deal with any fearful or joyful situations that are shown to us.

    Death, I was so scared of death as a child but have become less afraid. Science gives me the answers. As we get older I believe we face our fear and start to think about death, eg for me: I want to be burried and have a fruit tree planted above me or a 'sky burial' like they do in Tibet, they wont have that in the UK

  3. @Halina - Very interesting - I liked that link! And yes, I can get very depressed when I can't work something out and also I don't like similarities a whole lot.

    @Claza - I am extremely scared of daeth and like to just avoid the topic and be ignorant to the science behind it and just accept an idea that seems comforting to me - and that makes great sense.

    Thank you both for the comments :D

  4. I don't mean to sound disrespectful but, having read this post which I found insightful, thought provoking and impressive - the quote from Descartes - I was surprised to read you are 16. I am only 19 myself and have sort of pondered on the ideas you discuss here but not to the extent that you evidently have (I sort of tend to focus on more frivolous things I suppose -
    You know the saying 'ignorance is bliss': well it's certainly true because in ignorance you are without fear but I believe in the power and pleasure of knowledge. In gaining that, you will always discover something you fear, but that's good. There lies adrenalin, qualification of the things you value and an emotion that, although not entirely pleasant, ought to be in existence.
    Sorry to have gone on a bit. x

  5. Jack Blake AKA WatchImpact5 September 2011 at 18:40

    Georgie, thanks a bunch for your response! I do agree with you exactly which is odd considering the post suggests I shouldn't. I find a great sense of triumph and satisfaction through the discovery and learning of the world around us - which is why I find science, especially anthropology, so fascinating. I like to know the ins and outs of everything. But, in doing this, I drive myself mad trying to work out what cannot be worked out. Sometimes, I wish I just accepted the facts and moved on, but I hate the idea of being ignorant. (Perhaps if I was ignorant to ignorance that would help!)

  6. Hi

    Great information in this post and I think There are also many scientists in the world with an idea about the events before and after death.

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  8. But what about ignorance as the main cause for fear. For many thousands of year, the world was a big mystery to our ancestor: full of demons and monsters. Ignorance was the reasons they feared.

  9. thanks.
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  10. Death: Funny as an atheist it has never been a fear. Perhaps because of my belief that then it is all just over. My part is done. No curtain calls or worrying about loved ones after.

    Wife: So he cheats rather than talks to his wife? No respect for their marriage unless he is getting what he wants out of it, but minus the balls to say what he wants. The next times things are tough he'll stray again. Personally you can not make the other person responsible for your happiness. If you are unhappy in the relationship and stay silent then you are making the choice to be unhappy.

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