Is ignorance really bliss?

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Is ignorance really bliss?

Postby Mania Aurelia Apollonia » Sun May 21, 2017 7:21 pm

Salvete!

I'm relatively new here, but I'd love to get some discussions going. I'm just dipping my toes into philosophy, but I have come up with a funny rhetorical cat question. This question, though funny, can be applied to many different aspects of life.

-When the cat's paw inevitably ends up in your mouth, is it better to know where that paw has been, or better to NOT know where that paw has been?-

My thought is, I'd like to know. If there was anything dangerous or poisonous, I could then deal with it appropriately.

How do you feel about this?
Know thyself - Γνῶθι σεαυτόν - Nosce te ipsum
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Re: Is ignorance really bliss?

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Mon May 22, 2017 2:53 am

Salve Aurelia Apollonia!

Interesting question!
Here we have to distinguish between two different cases:
  1. The knowledge is of consequence.
  2. The knowledge is of no consequence, because we either cannot change it or it does not really affect us.
In the first case a philosopher always strives for knowledge, because he wants to make optimal decisions based on all relevant facts. Refusing to know the facts, even when it was possible to know them, and deciding based on a gut feeling would be unreasonable.

In the second case we are talking about useless knowledge. If the knowledge has no influence on my possible actions or decisions, then it has no use. Troublesome knowledge could even affect the state of apatheia (απαθεια = equanimity) for a Stoic. He therefore avoids any judgement of things, that he cannot change or that do not affect him.

In the case you described, you mentioned that "the cat's paw inevitably ends up in your mouth". Inevitability implies that it cannot be changed by our actions. We have therefore the second of the above described cases. If we cannot change it, we do not need to know it. In this case ignorance would be of advantage to maintain our Stoic apatheia.

Vale!
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Re: Is ignorance really bliss?

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Mon May 22, 2017 4:16 am

Salve Lupe!

It is incredible how day by day I see how my thoughts and those of the Stoics are aligned. I also live by that view. I can tell you an example: Here in Brazil it is very dangerous to walk on the street at night. But when my wife and I are walking together she finds it rather offputting that I am perfectly calm usually. It made me realize something about myself, that I tend to not take note of things if I can't change the results. If a robber decided to attack us, we had no weapon or any chance of resisting a gun, so I tend to choose just to not care about it. The same proved true when we were robbed a while back. I gave my phone to the person and noticed that I didnt really care much... I found it rather odd but I noticed that the feeling I had was that if I couldn't change the fact there was no use lamenting about it or dwelling on it. I believe this apathy to that which we cannot control tends to give us a more relaxed and serene take on life.
"Ignis aurum probat" - Seneca
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Re: Is ignorance really bliss?

Postby Mania Aurelia Apollonia » Mon May 22, 2017 10:43 pm

I'm glad I got some discussion going!

Perhaps I am aligning toward Stoic. That makes sense. That which is unchangeable is useless, if I am reading that correctly. I only have a few minutes to respond today. It would make sense to only expend energy on things we have some influence on.
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