A note from H B’s wife, Carol: On June 3, 2021 H B died unexpectedly from a heart attack. The evening before, he posted a blog and had four more waiting to be posted. This is the first of those four final blogs; the others will be posted in the coming weeks. I post this on his behalf and to celebrate all the gifts he gave to each of us.
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“Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.”
“Genuine ignorance is profitable because it leads to humility, curiosity and open-mindedness.”
A lot of people have been working on the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but not many people are even discussing Genuine Ignorance (GI). I believe ignorance has been getting a bad rap. Perhaps that is because in our culture we believe that intelligence is a good thing to have, even if it’s artificial, and ignorance is a bad thing to have, even if it’s genuine. But if we could promote genuine ignorance as being profitable, it might catch on. In America, being profitable is probably more popular than being intelligent.
Seven years ago I wrote a similar blog about genuine ignorance. I believe genuine ignorance today is profitable because it leads to an open mind. To me, it is possible to explain open-mindedness as “genuine ignorance.” An open mind is one that is not full of knowing. A closed mind is one that knows for sure. Open-mindedness leads to uncertainty, to asking questions, to seeking answers. The more you know the more you realize you don’t know; and the more you believe you need to know.
Probably the most famous quote about ignorance is: “where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise,” Thomas Gray.
Wisdom requires an acceptance of one’s ignorance. To be wise has changed from knowing the answers to questioning the questions. Having questions is the condition of the wise. This is the virtue of positive uncertainty.
Here is what some others have to say about ignorance.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.”
“You only need two things in life to be successful, ignorance and confidence.”
“Education is the progressive discovery of our ignorance.”
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”