Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ignorance

"He who, for the sake of learning, lowers himself by exposing his ignorance, will ultimately be elevated." - Simeon ben Azai, sometimes Ben Azai

"The prejudices of ignorance are more easily removed than the prejudices of interest; the first are all blindly adopted, the second willfully preferred." - George Bancroft

"Incredulity is not wisdom, but the worst kind of folly. It is folly, because it causes ignorance and mistake, with all the consequents of these; and it is very bad, as being accompanied with disingenuity, obstinacy, rudeness, uncharitableness, and the like, bad dispositions; from which credulity itself, the other extreme sort of folly, is exempt." - Isaac Barrow

"Man enters and departs his this life crying and weeping. He comes and he leaves in love and ignorance." -

"Innocence dwells with wisdom, but never with ignorance." - William Blake

"Your greatness is measured by your kindness - Your education and intellect by your modesty - Your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices - Your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others." - William J. H. Boetcker, fully William John Henry Boetcker

"In other living creatures ignorance of self is nature; in man it is vice." - Boethius, fully Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius NULL

"Ignorance is always ready to admire itself. Procure yourself critical friends." -

"Whatever study tends neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men and citizens is at best a specious an ingenious sort of idleness; and the knowledge we acquire by it only a credible kind of ignorance, nothing more." - Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

"Readiness for death is that of character, rather than occupation. It is right living which prepares for safe or even joyous dying. O death! We thank thee for the light thou wilt shed upon our ignorance." -

"Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality, but from several - from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others, from indolence, from stupidity, from the distraction of thought, from contempt of others, from jealousy." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Profound ignorance makes a man dogmatic. The man who knows nothing thinks he is teaching others what he has just learned himself; the man who knows a great deal can't imagine that what he is saying is not common knowledge, and speaks indifferently." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Man is arrogant in proportion to his ignorance. Man’s natural tendency is to egotism. Man, in his infancy of knowledge, thinks that all creation was formed for him." -

"The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance." - Samuel Butler

"Affliction inspires wakefulness, which in turn removes ignorance, which is the ultimate cause of suffering." - Stephen Butterfield

"Knowledge is not happiness, and science but an exchange of ignorance for that which is another kind of ignorance." -

"The human mind feels restless and dissatisfied under the anxieties of ignorance. It longs for the repose of conviction; and to gain this repose it will often rather precipitate its conclusions than wait for the tardy lights of observation and experiment. There is such a thing, too, as the love of simplicity and system, a prejudice of the understanding which disposes it to include al the phenomena of nature under a few sweeping generalities, and indolence which loves to repose on the beauties of a theory rather than encounter the fatiguing detail of its evidences." - Thomas Chalmers

"Every mind was made for growth, for knowledge; and its nature is sinned against when it is doomed to ignorance." - William Ellery Channing

"The failure of our modern world, with its moral and ethical collapse, may be traced directly to our spiritual ignorance and moral disobedience. The ethical conditions under which we live are disgracefully unsanitary. It is futile to expect peace and goodwill on earth while our homes are infested with the germs of selfishness, irreverence and lust. The world-wide epidemic of hatred, cruelty, murder and war is the inevitable result of our moral and spiritual disobedience. We cannot break the laws of the universe with impunity." - Allen E. Claxton

"The freer a man’s judgment is in relation to a definite question, the greater is the necessity with which the content of this judgment will be determined; while the uncertainty, founded on ignorance, which seems to make an arbitrary choice among many different and conflicting possible decisions, shows precisely by this that it is not free, that it is controlled by the very object it should itself control. Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, an control founded on knowledge of natural necessity; it is therefore necessarily a product of historical development." - Friedrich Engels

"Every man should study conciseness in speaking; it is a sing of ignorance not to know that long speeches, though they may please the speaker, are the torture of the hearer." - Owen Feltham

"Your true nature is not lost in moments of delusion, nor is it gained at the moment of enlightenment. It was never born and can never die. It shines through the whole universe, filling emptiness, one with emptiness. It is without time or space, and has no passions, actions, ignorance, or knowledge. In it there are no things, no people, and no Buddhas; it contains not the smallest hairbreadth of anything that exists objectively; it depends on nothing and is attached to nothing. It is all-pervading, radiant beauty: absolute reality, self-existent and uncreated. How then can you doubt that the Buddha has no mouth to speak with and nothing to teach, or that the truth is learned without learning, for who is there to learn? It is a jewel beyond all price." - Huang Po, also Huángbò Xīyùn

"Weakness, fear, melancholy, together with ignorance, are the true sources of superstition. Hope, pride, presumption, a warm indignation, together with ignorance, are the true sources of enthusiasm." - David Hume

"Fear breeds lack of experience, lack of experience breeds ignorance, ignorance breeds more fear. It is a vicious cycle." - John-Roger & Peter McWilliams NULL

"Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate, roll daring down the torrent of his fate?" -

"The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Anyone who wants to be cured of ignorance must confess it... Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy, inquiry its progress, ignorance its end." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"He who wishes to cure his ignorance, must first confess it." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"In truth, knowledge is a great and very useful quality; those who despise it give evidence enough of their stupidity. But yet I do not set its value at that extreme measure that some attribute to it, like Herillus the philosopher, who placed in it the sovereign good, and held that it was in its power to make us wise and content. That I do not believe, nor what others have said, that knowledge is the mother of all virtue, and all vice is produced by ignorance. If that is true, it is subject to a long interpretation." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Knowledge is the mother of all virtue; all vice proceeds from ignorance." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"No discipline is immune to excess or lack of wisdom. All programs for human betterment can be undermined by ignorance, imcompetence, or moral perversity." - Michael Murphy

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." - W. H. Murray, fully William Hutchinson Murray

"The sum and total of man’s ignorance lie in the misconception of the power that surround his identity. He must realize that though his intellect is but a grain in the sands of knowledge, yet hid in that grain is the essence of the Whole." - Mystical Script NULL

"Only when we realise that we have no self can we seek ourselves. Only through a flash of truth can one understand ignorance." - Maurice Nicoll

"The bravery founded on hope of recompense, fear of punishment, experience of success, on rage, or on ignorance of danger, is but common bravery, and does not deserve the name. True bravery proposes a just end; measures the dangers, and meets the result with calmness and unyielding decision." - François de La Noüe

"They set the slave free, striking off his chains. Then he was as much of a slave as ever. He was still chained to servility. He was still manacled to indolence and sloth, he was still bound by fear and superstition, by ignorance suspicion and savagery. His slavery was not in the chains, but in himself. They can only set free men free. And there is no need of that. Free men set themselves free." - José Joaquín de Olmedo, fully José Joaquín de Olmedo y Maruri

"Our reverence for the past is just in proportion to our ignorance of it." - Theodore Parker

"The Perfect Way knows no difficulties, except that it refuses to make preferences. Only when freed from hate and love does it reveal itself fully and without disguise. A tenth of an inch’s difference, and heaven and earth are set apart. If you wish to see it before your own eyes have no fixed thoughts either for or against it. To set up what you like against what you dislike - this is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of the Way is not understood. Peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose... Pursue not the outer entanglements, dwell not in the inner void; be serene in the oneness of things, and dualism vanishes of itself... Transformations going on in the empty world that confronts us appear to be real because of Ignorance. Do not strive to seek after the True, only cease to cherish opinions... One in all, All in One - if only this is realized, no more worry about not being perfect. When the mind and each believing mind and Mind, this is where words fail, for it is not of the past, present or future." - Jianzhi Sengcan, Third Patriarch of Zen, Third Patriarch of Ch'an

"A great idea is usually original to more than one discoverer. Great ideas come when the world needs them. They surround the world's ignorance and press for admission." - Austin Phelps

"We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our own being; our ugliness is in going over to another order; our self-knowledge, that is to say, is our beauty; in self-ignorance we are ugly." - Plotinus NULL

"He who neglects to drink of the spring of experience is likely to die of thirst in the desert of ignorance." -

"Until man places on tolerance and open-mindedness a value equal to the value that he places on material possessions, he will continue to be stranded on an island surrounded by his own prejudices, ideas, preconceived opinions, and knowledge that is limited by the horizon of his own ignorance." - Cecil F. Poole

"Right conduct can never, except by some rare accident, be promoted by ignorance or hindered by knowledge." -

"Whoever interrupts the conversation of others to make a display of his fund of knowledge, makes notorious his own stock of ignorance." -

"Whatever study tends neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men and citizens is at best but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness, and the knowledge we acquire by it only a creditable kind of ignorance, nothing more." - Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

"Self-complacency is the companion of ignorance." - Solomon Schecter

"A wise man knows his own ignorance; a fool thinks he knows everything." - Charles Simmons