Does being aware of one’s own ignorance make he/she less ignorant?

In AA, they discuss the 12 steps of recovery. The first lesson is the most important, “Accept that you have a problem and that it’s taking control of your life.” This action of acceptance allows you to move on and grow into a better being. In some ways, this can relate to the question above. If you can see what is keeping you from excelling as a productive member of society, then you have the capability to change.

Socrates, one of the first great philosophers, spent a lot of time discussing how much society was unaware of our world. Writer Nigel Warburton, discusses Socrates’s, “unwillingness to accept assumptions, and his passion for discovering the truth or, failing that, how little he knew, provide a model for all philosophers” which led into the The Socratic Problem. Since Socrates didn’t write anything down, his knowledge was only captured by other sources (Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Aristophanes). Yet, the fact remains, Socrates practiced a phenomenon that ignorance is a recipe for acts that harm society. He believed that all evil acts were purely the result of ignorance. If one knew they were committing such an act, he believes they would stop.

I agree with Socrates. Aside from the fact that there are sociopaths out there, I truly believe that humans have a necessity to connect with other humans. In order to accomplish this, they can not commit evil acts, therefore, acting in a manner that is productive to society is beneficial for them. Ignorance is their only bump in the road.

How can we weed out ignorance? Education is important as well as seeking the truth. This is one of the main reasons philosophy is necessary to make the world change. The necessity of finding new solutions to our big problems is minor compared to the necessity of sharing the “right answers” we have solved already. The internet is a huge contributor to these ideas. Before it, information couldn’t travel as freely.  We couldn’t keep up with each other lives in the same way we do now. Discoveries were hidden. Creativity wasn’t shared. Our thoughts weren’t expressed.

There is a common saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” For the small-minded, I can see how information could be scary. But maybe the only reason they are small-minded is because they haven’t been taught in a way they can understand. It our job as members of society to educate, let’s start by enacting Socratic ways.

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