To each his suff’rings; all are men,
Condemn’d alike to groan,—
The tender for another’s pain,
Th’ unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
’T is folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray, repr. In Poetical Works, ed. J. Rogers (1953). Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, stanza 10 (written 1742, published 1747). []
Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.
He that voluntarily continues ignorant is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces.
Samuel Johnson, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 336.
I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I, spoken by Lady Bracknell (1895)
There are, however, some potentates I would kill by any and all means at my disposal. They are Ignorance, Superstition, and Bigotry — the most sinister and tyrannical rulers on earth.
Emma Goldman, responding to audience questions during a speech in Detroit (1898); as recounted in Living My Life (1931), p. 207; quoted by Annie Laurie Gaylor in Women Without Superstition, p. 382
Bring your ignorance to the Holy Spirit, the great teacher, who by His precious truth will lead you into all truth.
W. P. Mackay, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 337.