Is Ignorance Bliss?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade June 2001

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"Ignorance is the lack of knowledge." "Bliss is complete happiness." Time and again experiences have made us realize that without the gain of knowledge we live at peace. In the story of Adam and Eve, Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge against Gods will. After eating the apple, Adam and Eve gained worldly knowledge along with the shame of having disobeyed Gods orders. If they hadn't been curious and eaten the apple, they would have been ignorant and much happier in their paradise. With knowledge also comes corruption. However, without knowledge we can't live life to the fullest. Knowledge and ignorance can be both good and bad. Knowledge brings joy as well as pain, and therefore in gaining knowledge we have to accept it the way it is. On the other hand, with ignorance we don't feel pain and are happy. Knowledge is therefore a mixed blessing.

This is clearly illustrated in the story of "˜Oedipus the king.' In the story of Oedipus, it is prophesized that Oedipus would kill his father and marries his mother. In order to avoid that fate Oedipus left his parents in Corinth and went to Thebes. On his way he killed King Laius and then proceeded and saved Thebes from the sphinx. He did this with knowledge, knowledge of life. After saving Thebes, he married the queen Jocasta and lived happily for some time. Then the city was struck by a plague and king Oedipus was told that the plague had struck due to "something unclean in the city." Therefore in his quest to save the city and in his search for knowledge he finally discovered that he, himself was the cause of the plague, as he was the one who killed king Laius, who was his actual father and married his mother. He was so desperate for knowledge and to find out the truth, that in the end he caused himself pain. If he had not found out the truth, and had been ignorant, then he wouldn't have gone through so much pain. His thirst for knowledge was his tragic flaw, which in the end led to his downfall. In Oedipus' case, ignorance would have been bliss. He wouldn't gave found out the truth about his parents abandoning him as a child and then him having killed his father and, marrying his mother, and could have gone on living a happy life. Although Oedipus is by far the greatest sufferer in the play, others were also hurt. His mother and wife, Jocasta wouldn't have hanged herself if the truth hadn't been revealed and as a result their children wouldn't have suffered so much. However, after knowing the truth the city was saved from the plague.

As one grows, ignorance is lost and the farther one gets away from the oneness of the universe. A child is ignorant to the rest of the world and as a child matures he gains knowledge and experiences life. "Knowledge is the root of all evil, whereas ignorance is bliss."