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The Ideas of Ignorance and Denial

Updated on December 20, 2014


I appreciate all criticisms. If you take the time to tell me what you disagree with you could shed years worth of ignorance from me. Without your criticisms I am limited to only what I can think of. Thank you.

Ignorance and Denial


  • the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning,information, etc.
  • lack of knowledge, information, or education; the state of being ignorant
  • It is directly contrasted with knowledge


  • refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.
  • an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false
  • disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.
  • the refusal to satisfy a claim, request, desire, etc., or the refusal of a person making it.
  • refusal to recognize or acknowledge; a disowning or disavowal
  • Law. refusal to acknowledge the validity of a claim, suit, or the like; a plea that denies allegations of fact in an adversary's plea
  • sacrifice of one's own wants or needs; self-denial.

What Does Ignorance Mean To Us?

First lets put the idea into play with a metaphor so that we can see it relevance more clearly.

Lets say there is a painter who is ignorant about, has a lack of knowledge of, paint rollers and sprayers . This painter uses brushes for absolutely everything. He spends a considerable amount of time that could be spent elsewhere because of his ignorance, lack of knowledge,.

I would say that it goes much deeper then simply saving a little bit of time.I would argue that it is:

  • The enabler of racism
  • The enabler of war
  • The enabler of crime
  • The enabler of frustration
  • The enabler of class ism
  • The enabler of hate
  • possibly the enabler of mortality
  • The suppressor of love
  • The suppressor of peace
  • The suppressor of happiness
  • The suppressor of scientific advancement

Some Great Opinions On Ignorance

  1. Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. - William Shakespeare
  2. The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. - Winston Churchill
  3. Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. - Confucius
  4. The most violent element in society is ignorance. - Emma Goldman(4)
  5. Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil. - Plato(5)
  6. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. - Albert Einstien (1)

Which quote is your favorite?

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What Does Denial Mean To Us?

We will use the same metaphor to put denial into play that we used for ignorance.

Lets say there is a painter who is in denial about the usefulness of a paint roller. This means that he has seen what a paint roller can do, knows that it is quicker and more effective but for some reason denies using it. This painter uses brushes for absolutely everything. He spends a considerable amount of time that could be spent elsewhere because of his denial, lack of acceptance of knowledge.

I believe that this idea piggy backs on ignorance. It's a second wall to overcome. First you get over the ignorance then you get over the denial. There is an old Swedish proverb that goes: "To know and not yet do, Is to not yet know" That proverb is either directly relating denial to ignorance, Or it could be stating that denial is not a legitimate idea, That what we perceive as denial is actually still ignorance, and that denial is just a manifestation of ignorance. My personal opinion sides with the latter.

Some Great Opinions On Denial

  • You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. You will find peace not in denial, but in victory. - J. Donald Walters
  • Delay is the deadliest form of denial. - C. Northcote Parkinson
  • I think the greatest illusion we have is that denial protects us. It's actually the biggest distortion and lie. In fact, staying asleep is what's killing us. - Eve Ensler
  • The greatest barrier to someone achieving their potential is their denial of it. - Simon Travaglia
  • Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. - Charles Bradlaugh

Which quote is your favorite?

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Ignorance And Denial In Applied Philosophy

I feel that it is fair to say that the first two paths of philosophy are that of free will and no free will. Chances are that you have been reading this article with the belief in free will. Just for the sake of a deeper understanding lets examine what these ideas could mean with the disbelief in free will.(2)

If you take away the idea of free will you are left trying to explain the way that things happen in the social world. You could label the idea with the phrase social evolution. It is the idea that everything in the social world is in a state of evolution. What ignorance means to this idea is that: If the negative things in the world are truly caused by ignorance then the only thing that can stop them is knowledge. This makes, to the person concerned about the negative things in the world, knowledge the highest priority. Furthermore it would go on to mean that charities involving teaching and knowledge have the most impact.

Personal Conclusion

My personal Conclusion is that Ignorance is the problem with the world. Better stated, "The problem with the world is that we are not born knowing all that there is to know". "By current definition, denial is not a legitimate idea. With the definition of a manifestation of ignorance it would be.".(3) To explain this I will use the metaphor with the painter:

Lets say there is a painter who is in denial about the usefulness of a paint roller.This means that he has seen what a paint roller can do, knows that it is quicker and more effective but for some reason denies using it. <it is in this denial of using it that the ignorance lies, possibly ignorant of the his ability to take advantage of the tool> This painter uses brushes for absolutely everything. He spends a considerable amount of time that could be spent elsewhere because of his denial, lack of acceptance of knowledge.<or his lack of knowledge of his ability to use the knowledge, just ignorance>

I believe it is enabling ignorance to use the current idea/definition of denial to express things. Also if the school of philosophy that follows the idea of no free will is correct then all we need for a perfect world is to know everything that there is to know. This belief seems to state that there will be no perfect world unless technology can implant knowledge at some point. The best that we could hope for, with this idea, is a world dedicated to education and knowledge.

Ideas of Ignorance And Denial In Religion


  • The idea of repentance is I believe a tool to stay out of denial. When you do something which could be a "sin"(to miss the mark) you are supposed to repent of it.
  • It is commonly believed that those that do not have knowledge of the religion, as well as small children will not go to hell. Because they are ignorant to the information they are held not guilty of the "sins"
  • However it is the duty of all believers to spread the word or clear up the ignorance of the subject.
  • It is also one of the highest purposes to come to a greater understanding of the bible, or to clear ignorance or gain knowledge of the teachings


  • Ignorance is a huge theme in buddhist teachings, they refer to it as Avidyā
  • It is One of the three poisons within the Mahayana Buddhist tradition
  • The first link in the twelve links of dependent origination.
  • One of the six root kleshas within the Mahayana Abhidharma teachings
  • One of the ten fetters in the Theravada tradition
  • Equivalent to moha within the Theravada Abhidharma teachings
  • Essentially they believe that when you use the word, "I" you have begun in your ignorance, from there all the evils of the world begin. It is in the separation of people and things.


  • The physical world misleads your soul. At this point the soul starts to relate to the body. At that point you accept thoughts like, 'I am american, I am male" or "This is my car, This is my religion, These are my ideas" At his point your soul tries to control or gain dominion over matter and enjoy it. In doing so you mistakenly serve lust, greed, or anger. This is ignorance to the hindu faith.
  • In ignorance a person is fully convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right. In passion he is unsure, hesitant, sometimes enjoying and at others times repenting.


  1. If the definition to insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results then what is the definition to sanity? If you where to try things different ways to get different results then you would be learning or gathering knowledge. If you do not then you are ignorantly basking in your ignorance. I believe that Einstein believed that Sanity would be to know all that there was to know. As this is not a realistic expectation to hold people to, The best that we could hope for would be to be in a constant state of learning. I believe, He then defined insanity: to not be not in a constant state of learning.
  2. I will release a hub on the ideas of free will and no free will/ determinism soon.
  3. Even as I looked for great quotes on denial, I found only names that I had never heard of, Mostly psychologists. The was no Einstein, No Churchill, no one of real consequence.
  4. There is an assumed truth in this quote, It may be the truth but to understand: when she states that a lack of knowledge is violent she hinting that wisdom is not violent.
  5. By calling ignorance the root and stem of all evil, he is also saying that knowledge is the opposite. I believe that it is subjective to him though. Meaning that, He is saying that his knowledge would give him no ill intentions or does not grow into evil. Another way to say it is that in the great truth that he has found there is no evil, He felt that the evil things that existed, existed for lack of his knowledge. He believed his knowledge to be the ultimate knowledge. His knowledge was of the extent of his ignorance.(6) So he was actually saying that, "not knowing the extent of your ignorance is the root of all the evil in the world".
  6. See "the apology" by Plato


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Very interesting! I voted ''Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil.'' So greatly written and thought of.


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