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Philosophy

Ignorance

Ignorance (as a choice) of course comes with its own price tag, usually measured in surprise and complete nonplussed naivete as to the causes and consequences of thoughts, actions and statements as facts in the world; ironically by this complete (and more often wilful) stupidity, to unwittingly recreate the preconditions for most of this human tragedy. It seems to me that there is (at least at first) a choice to be made here.

On one side: the dark and foreboding awareness of reality, of unqualified facts, a foreknowledge of mortality, of blind and unknowing cosmological immensity, of the soul-beggaring expanses of emptiness that arc and writhe across the heavens and between the galaxies and the stars that turn and spiral in unknowing surrender to the same logic of dissolution and entropy that claims us all in the end and to know that there is nothing at all for us in a vast and utterly impersonal architecture of space and time itself only ever punctuated as interest or event by intermittent spectacles of extreme astrophysical violence.

On the other side: the flickering candlelight of superficial belief systems, cultural or emotional ephemera and intoxicating narcissism around which we quite naturally swarm like lost souls or moths in a  midnight storm. Should we choose the darkness or the light when each in the end only ever acquires its own cost and hollow, displaced pointlessness? In any case, do we choose ignorance or does it choose us and is the natural orientation of the world towards disorder and decay one in which ignorance must always overwhelm a knowledge and awareness of facts that is only ever in brief and rare moments anything like a sufficient or adequate consolation for the enduring darkness it must inevitably bring upon us?

One reply on “Ignorance”

What I know is behind me; it is not of interest to me, although it might be of use to others sometimes. What is ahead of me is my ignorance and it fascinates me, challenges me, and I do my best to whittle away at it, though it is infinite. As far as I can tell, there are two types of ignorance: that which is given to us and that which we add to. That which is given to us we must face honestly and not look away from it. We must whittle away if we can and accept if we can’t. That which we add to are the lies we tell, the false impressions that we know what we don’t know, or that we are better than others who struggle honestly with what they don’t know at a lower level than us. Every honest man faces what he doesn’t know and one man’s ignorance is not less or more than another’s. Just as the purpose of existence is to resist entropy, the purpose of intelligence is to resist ignorance. I agree with you, that ignorance (and intelligence) are a choice anyone can make. We start with nothing and we end with nothing, but in the middle we can add or subtract but those will always be finite operations against an infinity. Nice post, Mike. Thanks.

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