Ignorance Always Wins

Ignorance is a hard thing to argue with.  Perhaps it is why so many of our hot-button topics of debate leave us breathlessly unfulfilled and without resolution. Ignorance on both sides of the discussion. In fact topics which span the depths of the human existence, religion, philosophy, science etc  can never, at least not yet, really be completely resolved .  It is a side affect of a closed mindedness and a lack of ability for our generation and global community to pursue discussion based dialogue rather than debate and argumentative dialogue. In fact most people don’t even understand the difference. What is dialogue anyways? The sharing of individual context, the optimistic belief that contemplation can be a shared endeavor?  At best, we show mediocrity in understanding our own context; when in communication with another individual (harboring their own personal context) at any time, we come in contact with foreign material and a knowledge and experiential base  almost completely, save for cultural dependencies, and even there, different from our own. It is a book we have never read and for one to say he has read every book  in the library, is an obvious liar in the most narcissistic, ignorant way. Assertion of superior understanding betrays ignorance in itself. It suggests that there is no other facet to be explored about a topic. To think that anything is that simply understood is a juvenile assertion.  Here is a quote that better exemplifies this point. The willing blindness of ignorance. Or rather, the necessity for ignorance in debate.

“I argued with a scholar and won. I argued with an ignorant person and lost.”- Imām al-Shāf’i

“An ignorant person does not care about the truth – he will not follow any logic or hold himself to any etiquette. It’s like a person who plays soccer, picks up the ball, runs as fast as he can and dives head first into the goal. When you explain to him that he is wrong, there are rules to follow, he can’t carry the ball with his hands, he yells at you, calls you names and says, “Goal!” -Suhaib Webb

Now I’m not sure if I agree with the  idea of telling someone they are “wrong” as there is always some shadow of truth in the development of an opinion, even if the outcome is skewed. Consider Jung, Nietzsche, or any other great philosopher/psychologist. Even science shares this same characteristic. A finalized opinion or theory may be later proven wrong, even after being considered right, but the process taken to come to the conclusion is not wholly discarded. It is still legitimate and utilized.

There is always more to say on this, but I’ll leave that for further personal thought.

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One thought on “Ignorance Always Wins”

  1. Not sure if you are seeking for any comments here, but the tiltle caught my eye as I was scrolling through different blogs. It is an eternal question, this one, of ignorance, or blessed ignorance, and central to any [intellectual] endeavor. Nietzsche says in one of his books (I forget which), “there is only one world, and they have it.” Obviously, the context was in relation to religion, which claims there is another, truer world beyond this one, and which implies that it makes no sense to fight here, since justice is only possible in the next; a very convenient argument for those who want to rule, since it levels any opposition and teaches surrender. This lie does not necessarily come from the ignorant in the narrow sense of the word, but it is directed at them. So it is also in political debates, where if one tried to make a fairly complex but better thought out argument, s/he would lose to the simple and fallacious argument made by her/his opponent, since most of the audience cannot process too much data. In a way then, the intelligent, pragmatic person, with a will to rule, will create such a situation where ignorance is perpetuated. Is there any way to counter this? I believe there is, but it demands another kind of intelligence, and in a sense, not one which is centered towards communication. What I mean is that dialectics, debate, argument, are all ultimately ruses created to give the impression of a universal logic, which can be arrived at if the rules are applied consistently. But, between a person which we call ignorant, who does not care about the truth but only about self interest (and power) and that other more logical person, who appears to be seeking the truth, the gap is not as wide as it may seem. We may not need to ask why be more oriented toward personal or self interest. This one seems to be already self evident. But can we ask, why be oriented towards truth? For even though this too may seem self evident at times, is this not precisely the territory of the priest, -or the scientist for that matter,- who by claiming to know the truth can also demand obedience? In the end, it is not at all clear what ignorance is. But the folk, who are usually the ones that are more persistently designated as “ignorant” already know that this designation is just another means of keeping them in check. They too, deal with a certain hypocrisy with the the knowledgeable ones, and not without a measure of irony as well. Now, without wanting to generalize in the sense of seeking a universal consistency for this argument, I can still seek an internal consistency for it. It would seem that the will to rule (not Nietzsche’s will to power), is the very first characteristic of what we call ignorant. Rimbaud’s words, “master and peasants are all slaves” come to mind. But, while “the enlightened” might feel the urge to escape into the mountains and leave the world to those who want to rule it, how then can this “ignorance” be fought? It certainly cannot be fought in the name of the oppressed, since they too are contributors to it, and as Ahmad Shamlu rightly says, “revolutionaries are stupid.” Reversal of hierarchies does not work since only the actors exchange roles (revolve), while the system remains in place. So much for communism and all the leftist academia today. The only reason communism still holds some attraction for people, is because it has become the hideout of the barbarian (see for example Foucault’s analysis in lectures of 76-77, I believe, “Society Must Be Defended”). But as Baudrillard says, the left and the right wings end up doing the job of their opponent perfectly, it is one hand washing the other, while all the while giving the impression of a political battle that keeps everyone in suspense as to what is going to happen. This battle is exactly what makes certain that the system continues, it is a guaranty for its continued existence.

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