Ignorance Isn’t Bliss Summary Notes

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss Author

Tabish Khair is an eminent writer, Journalist and at present an Associate Professor of English at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. As a journalist, he worked for the Times of India and later on contributed articles to The Hindu. He has written acclaimed novels like The things About Thugs’, ‘How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position, and ‘Jihadi Jane’. In the present article published in The Hindu, the author asserts that without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant, no matter how much information we collect aided by the internet.

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss Summary

The given essay ‘Ignorance isn’t bliss’ is by Tabish Khair, an Associate professor of English at the University of Aarhus in Denmark.

In this age of high-speed internet, social media, and 24 x 7 new channels, information is easily accessible. But how much of the news we hear and see is credible? Ascertain the authenticity and credibility of the news have become a daunting task. Fake news, when proliferated can become an effective tool to manufacture consent. It can be used to topple governments or to anoint an unworthy leader. In addition to it, easy access to information has made people get into a loop. It only affirms what they believe in fake or credible. Critical thinking is the need of the hour. This relevant article highlights the absolute necessity for every human being to accept his / her ignorance and to embark on the quest to find the right information from various sources rather than solely depending on the internet.

In the essay, the author, Tabish Khair, presents an argument that our excessive pride and self-confidence have misled us to believe that knowledge’ makes us truly human. But the author dispels this myth by arguing that ‘knowledge’ alone does not make us truly human but it is the ‘knowledge of our ignorance that makes us truly human.

The author explains why we have been misled to think that we are all knowledgeable. He criticizes all human beings because we have forgotten our ‘knowledge of ignorance’, due to the influence of the internet, which dispenses a surplus of misleading ‘knowledge’ propounded by people who force their opinion on us, such as new atheists, religious fanatics, followers of political leaders and people who dispute climate change.

The author substantiates his argument by explaining what is ‘knowledge’ and what is ‘Ignorance’, and how human beings differ from other living organisms in terms of knowledge. The author states that all ecologically evolved living beings think some way or the other. It has been proved that even birds, animals, and plants have knowledge. For Ex: Birds have the knowledge of navigating their way through thousands of miles in the sky similar to fishes that swim in the ocean. Birds and animals have the knowledge to run away from danger and also to live in a symbiotic relationship with other living beings. Ex: birds and crocodiles – birds clean meat stuck between the crocodile’s teeth and in turn they feed on the meat.

These are some kinds of knowledge, and some are beyond the capacity of the human mind, but we are conducting scientific researches to gain such knowledge.

Hence the author argues that ‘knowledge is not the only criteria to distinguish human beings from other animals. What distinguishes human beings from other evolved beings is that human beings have ‘the knowledge of their ignorance’. Human beings not only are aware of their knowledge but also have a distinct idea of what they do not know. Birds and animals (non – human beings) have the knowledge as to where to build nests, how to build them when to run, etc, but they do not show any indication that they are aware of what they do not know.

For Ex: the nursery Rhyme ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How I wonder what you are?’ conveys not only wonder by also knowledge and ignorance. A non – human being looking up at the twinkling star would also wonder because of simple curiosity. But a human – being has the knowledge it is a star but is ignorant as to which star it is. The truly educated are not the people who are aware of their extent of knowledge, but who are aware of their areas of ignorance. These two factors – ‘knowledge’ and ‘Ignorance’ go hand-in¬hand as true knowledge comes only with awareness of one’s ignorance. Hence knowledge of ignorance makes us truly human.

The author tries to prove why we are not aware of our ignorance. Internet, Cyber – linked libraries and 24 – hour TV have given way to an unspoken myth that as an individual and as human – beings, we have more knowledge of everything and about ourselves now than ever in the past. People surf the internet only for information that confirms their ‘knowledge’ and does not ‘challenge’ their ‘ignorance’. Moreover, information is not knowledge, but without information, there can be no knowledge.

The author further explains how dependence on the internet is detrimental while acquiring knowledge. The internet trolls surf only for information that confirms their ‘knowledge’ and which does not challenge their ‘ignorance’. These people are religious fanatics who argue that every scientific discovery has taken place in the golden era of their country or others who claim that their own version of their religion is a most perfect system or the supporters of political leaders who claim the elections are rigged and other leaders have conspired to defeat their leader in the election. Hence, we will be under the false impression that our ‘knowledge’ is certainly correct and be will not ‘challenge’ it otherwise. Thus, without awareness of our ‘ignorance’, we are condemned to stay ignorant. The internet only enables us to collect information and not knowledge.

The internet has condemned us to stay ignorant because we are falsely led to believe that all knowledge is now at our fingertips and we just need the right search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo to acquire whatever knowledge we seek to know. We are not aware that true knowledge comes only with true awareness of our ignorance. People are not aware of the fact that the availability of information is not sufficient to gain true knowledge over the internet. Thus internet misleads us to think that we have gained all the knowledge we require and make as not willing to challenge our knowledge or rather it makes us arrogant enough not to seek further knowledge. Hence without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant no matter how much information we collect over the internet. The internet promotes our ignorance of knowledge or rather a false notion that we have acquired knowledge over the internet because it quickly disburses only biased, selective, isolated, and hidden ‘information.

The author further explains the reliability of books and the internet. Books are reliable, relevant and also a quick source of information, one might claim that even books are biased in the dissemination of knowledge. This argument is true if one reads a book confined to a narrow book and if the reader is devoted to its author. The reader strictly follows everything written in the book because ofhis admiration for the author of the book. This is similar to reading ‘Mein Kempf by Adolf Hitler- the German dictator. Millions of German Nazis believed that ‘Mein Kempf’ was their sacred text and its commentaries were ‘true’ and followed it rigidly.

But there is a difference. The moment one starts reading books in general, we are forced to encounter opinions and information that do not fit one’s world views. But we can avoid such information, that we do not like on the internet by ignoring it. In the world of books the definition of knowledge is beyond the bounds of its covers or by any fixed reading. If we find that the knowledge we require is not found (elusive) in that book, we are forced to refer to other such books for further knowledge. We may have to read many different books to gather the knowledge we require. The author suggests that we should read books in general and not to be dependent on the internet for knowledge, because internet-only disburses information and not knowledge.

The cyberculture has given rise to a myth that knowledge is at our fingertips and all we need is the right search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. This mad rush to gain knowledge over the internet is evident when people have the tendency to even Google for medical treatment. Books are reliable because they are reviewed by experts. They assess how the subject is presented, methods, academic context, and reference use in books. The reviewers are experts in the same field as the author of the book. They comment on the text of the book and an author must comply with to have his / her book or article published. Books are accurate and the information in the books is trustworthy.

The author presents the lack of sense (insanity) of the cyber reviews when even reputed classic literature and complex scientific books are dismissed as ‘I found it boring’. In the conclusion of the essay, the author poses a question ‘Can there be any knowledge without a humble awareness of ignorance? We guess not.

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss Glossary

Hubristic                : a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence
Surfeit                    : an amount that is too much or more than you need
Brasher                   : confident and aggressive in usually a rude or unpleasant way
Anthropology        : the study of human race, origins, societies, and cultures
Distinguished         : known by many people because of some quality or achievement
Nuanced                : a subtle distinction or variation
Trolls                     : a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant or offensive comments
Fundamentalist     : a person who strictly adheres to a set of basic principles (especially religious)
Acolytes                : someone who follows and admires a leader
Fanatic                  : a person marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion
Elusive                  : hard to find or capture
Nazi                     : a member of a German political party that controlled Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler
Mein Kampf         : Autobiographical book by Adolf Hitler outlining anti – Semitic and political ideology ofNazis

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss Questions & Answers

Comprehension:

Question 1.
What makes us truly human?
Answer:
Our knowledge of our ignorance makes us truly human.

Question 2.
In the age of the internet, availability of knowledge is __________
a. Scarce
b. Excess
c. As it was in ancient times.
Answer:
b. Excess

Question 3.
Who, according to the author, is responsible for misleading knowledge?
Answer:
‘New atheists’, opinionated trolls, radicals of a particular religion, ideologues of the other, leaders die-hards, climate change deniers are responsible for misleading knowledge.

Question 4.
What deficiency do human beings suffer from according to the author?
Answer:
The deficiency human beings suffer from, according to the author is that they do not know what they do not know.

Question 5.
What does Eduardo Kohn’s famous book proclaim?
Answer:
Eduardo Kohan’s famous book proclaims that ‘Forests think’.

Question 6.
Human beings fairly have a good idea of what they …………………………
Answer:
do not know

Question 7.
Which is the rhyme mentioned by the author? What does the rhyme convey?
Answer:
The rhyme mentioned by the author is ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little star’. It conveys ‘wonder’, which all complex beings have, but also knowledge and ignorance.

Question 8.
What is forgotten with the rise of information society?
Answer:
The knowledge of ignorance that makes us truly human is forgotten with the rise of the information society.

Question 9.
How the truly educated are distinguished from the others?
Answer:
The truly educated are distinguished from the others by their awareness of their ignorance and not by the extent of their knowledge.

Question 10.
Do you agree with the author’s view that information is not the same as knowledge?
Answer:
Yes, I agree with the author’s view that information is not the same as knowledge. Knowledge is what we acquire, but the information is what we perceive.

Question 11.
How is the internet responsible for our ignorance?
Answer:
Without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant. The internet only enables us to collect information and not knowledge.

Question 12.
What unites all internet trolls?
Answer:
The fact that unites all internet trolls is that they surf only for information that confirms their ‘knowledge’ and does not challenge their ‘ignorance’.

Question 13.
How are religious fanatics non-different from Nazi’s?
Answer:
Religious fanatics are devoted to one narrow book and its strict acolytes. They strictly follow everything written in the book because of their admiration for the author of the book, this is similar to reading ‘Mein Kempf by Adolf Hitler the German dictator. Millions of Germans believed that ‘Mein Kempf was their sacred text and its commentaries were ‘true’ and followed them rigidly.

Question 14.
The author says that even if we are well informed
a. we are knowledgeable
b. we are ignorant
c. we are fanatics
Answer:
b. we are ignorant

Question 15.
Why should we read books in general?
Answer:
When we read books in general, we are forced to encounter opinions and information that do not fit one’s worldview. But we can avoid such information that we like to disagree on the internet. In the world of books, the definition of knowledge is beyond the bounds of its covers or by any fixed reading. Hence we have to read different books to gain knowledge when we found that the knowledge we needed was not in that book. We had to refer and read many different books to gather the knowledge we required. Hence, the author suggests that we should read books in general and not be dependent on the internet for knowledge because internet-only disburses information and not knowledge.

Question 16.
Knowledge cannot exist without ……………………….
Answer:
Ignorance.

Question 17.
How are human beings different from non-human beings? Explain.
Answer:
Human beings are different from the non – human beings because we have knowledge of our ignorance, which is not the case in birds and animals. Birds and animals do not know that they are ignorant of certain knowledge, though their thinking is similar to human beings.

Question 18.
Who is truly educated? What are the two factors that go hand in hand?
Answer:
The truly educated are not the people who are aware of their extent of knowledge, but who are aware of their areas of ignorance. The two factors that go hand-in-hand are :
a) True knowledge comes only with awareness of one’s ignorance.
b) Knowledge of ignorance makes us truly human.

Question 19.
What is the impact of the internet, cyber-linked libraries, and 24-hours TV?
Answer:
Internet, cyber-linked libraries, and 24 hour TV have given way to an unspoken myth that individually and collectively we have more knowledge of things and ourselves now than ever in the past. People surf the internet only for information that confirms their ‘knowledge’ and does not ‘challenge’ their ‘ignorance’. Moreover, the availability of information in these Media is not sufficient but also outright misleading when we are convinced of our own knowledge, and not willing to challenge it. Without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant – no matter how much information we collect on the internet. The internet promotes our ignorance of knowledge or rather a false notion that we have acquired knowledge over the internet because it quickly disburses only biased, selective, isolated, and hidden ‘information.

Question 20.
Who trolls the most? What unites all of their trolls?
Answer:
The people who surf only for information that confirms their own ‘knowledge’ and does not challenge their ‘ignorance’, mostly troll over the internet, such as fanatics of a particular religion screaming about how every scientific discovery has taken place in a golden era of their country or others claiming that their version of the religion is the most perfect system ever, a leader’s supporters alleging conspiracies and rigging.

Question 21.
“Internet has condemned us to stay ignorant” Substantiate.
Answer:
The Internet has condemned us to stay ignorant because we are falsely led to believe that all knowledge is now at our fingertips and we just need the right search engine to acquire whatever knowledge we seek to know. There is an unspoken myth that individually and collectively we have more knowledge of things and ourselves now than ever in the past because we have the internet. In fact, people surf only for information that confirms their own ‘knowledge’ and does not challenge their ‘ignorance’. They are not aware that true knowledge comes only with true awareness of one’s ignorance. People are not aware of the fact that the availability of information is not sufficient to gain true knowledge over the internet.

Thus internet misleads us to think that we have gained all the knowledge we require and make us not willing to challenge our knowledge or rather it makes us arrogant enough not to seek further knowledge. Hence without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant no matter how much information we collect over the internet.

Reading books to gain knowledge has taken a backseat due to the availability of the internet. A myth has taken birth that all knowledge is now at our fingertips (internet) and all we need is the right search engine to gain knowledge over the internet. People are now addicted to the internet to such an extent that they even depend on it for medical treatment. Reputed classic literature philosophy and scientific books have been reviewed on the internet as ‘boring’. Internet trolls seek and disseminate only ‘information that suits them. And hence, the internet has condemned us to stay ignorant.

Question 22.
How does a human being different from other organisms? Explain in detail.
Answer:
All ecologically evolved living beings think some way or the other. It has been proved that even birds and animals have knowledge. But what distinguishes human – beings from other evolved beings is that human – beings have ‘the knowledge of their own ignorance. Human beings not only know what they know but also have a distinct idea of what they do not know. Non – human beings also known what they know such as where to nest, how to build, where to dig, when to run, etc, but they do not show any indication that they are aware of what they do not know. For eg: the nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How I Wonder What you are?’ conveys not only wonder but also knowledge and ignorance. A non – human being looking up at the twinkling star would also wonder because of simple curiosity, ut a human – being has the knowledge, that it is a star but is ignorant as to which star it is.

All complex evolved beings have knowledge of different sorts some of this knowledge is beyond the capacity of human beings We explain away our deficiency of that knowledge as instinctive knowledge, but in fact, we are in an indefinite quest for such knowledge. Hence this knowledge of our ignorance distinguishes us from other non – human beings.

Question 23.
“Massive instantaneous dissemination of information has made us more ignorant” Comment.
Answer:
It is true that the massive instantaneous dissemination of information has made us more ignorant. ‘New atheists’, opinionated trolls, radicals of a particular religion, ideologues of the other, leaders die-hards, climate change deniers are responsible for misleading knowledge. The deficiency human beings suffer from, according to the author is that they do not know what they do not know. Eduardo Kohan’s famous book proclaims that ‘Forests think’. Internet, cyber-linked libraries, and 24 hour TV have given way to an unspoken myth that individually and collectively we have more knowledge of things and ourselves now than ever in the past. People surf the internet only for information that confirms their ‘knowledge’ and does not ‘challenge’ their ‘ignorance’.

Moreover, the availability of information in these Media are not sufficient but also outright misleading when we are convinced of our own knowledge, and not willing to challenge it. Without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant – no matter how much information we collect on the internet. The internet promotes our ignorance of knowledge or rather a false notion that we have acquired knowledge over the internet, because it quickly disburses only biased, selective, isolated, and hidden ‘information.

The people who surf only for information that confirms their own ‘knowledge’ and does not challenge their ‘ignorance’, mostly troll over the internet, such as fanatics of a particular religion screaming about how every scientific discovery has taken place in a golden era of their country or others claiming that their version of the religion is the most perfect system ever, a leader’s supporters alleging conspiracies and rigging.

The Internet has condemned us to stay ignorant because we are falsely led to believe that all knowledge is now at out finger tips and we just need the right search engine to acquire whatever knowledge we seek to know. There is an unspoken myth that individually and collectively we have more knowledge of things and ourselves now than ever in the past because we have the internet. In fact, people surf only for information that confirms their own ‘knowledge’ and does not challenge their ‘ignorance’.

They are not aware that true knowledge comes only with true awareness of one’s ignorance. People are not aware of the fact that the availability of information is not sufficient to gain true knowledge over the internet. Thus internet misleads us to think that we have gained all the knowledge we require and make us not willing to challenge our knowledge or rather it makes us arrogant enough not to seek further knowledge. Hence without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant no matter how much information we collect over the internet.

Reading books to gain knowledge has taken a backseat due to the availability of the internet. A myth has taken birth that all knowledge is now at our fingertips (internet) and all we need is the right search engine to gain knowledge over the internet. People are now addicted to the internet to such an extent that they even depend on it for medical treatment. Reputed classic literature philosophy and scientific books have been reviewed on the internet as ‘boring’. Internet trolls seek and disseminate only ‘information that suits them And hence, the internet has condemned us to stay ignorant.

Question 24.
How are books more reliable than the internet?
Answer:
Books are reliable, relevant, and also a quick source of information. One might claim that even books are biased in the dissemination of knowledge. This argument is true if one reads a book confined to a narrow book and the reader is devoted to its author. The reader strictly follows everything written in the book because of his admiration for the books’ author. This is similar to reading ‘Mein Kempf by Adolf Hitler – the German dictator. Millions of Germans believed that ‘Mein Kempf’ was their sacred text and its commentaries were ‘true’ and followed them rigidly.

But there is a difference. The moment one starts reading books in general, we are forced to encounter opinions and information that do not fit one’s worldview. In the world of books, the definition of knowledge is beyond the bounds of its covers or by any fixed reading. Books are reliable because they are reviewed by experts, they assess how the subject is presented, methods, academic context, and reference use in the books. The reviewers are experts in the same field as the author of the book. They comment on the text of the book and an author must comply with it to have his / her article published. Books are accurate and the information in the books is trustworthy.

Question 25.
Today we surf only for information that confirms our ‘knowledge’ and does not challenge our ‘ignorance’ What are the dangers of such a scenario? Discuss.
Answer:
Today we surf only for information that confirms our ‘knowledge’ and does not challenge our ‘ignorance’. Hence we will not be aware of what we do not know. True knowledge comes only with the awareness of one’s ignorance. This knowledge of our ignorance is forgotten with the emergence of the internet or information society. The availability of information is not sufficient. It is outright misleading when we are convinced of our own knowledge; and not willing to challenge it. Thus knowledge becomes stagnant without awareness of our ignorance, we are condemned to stay ignorant – no matter how much information we collect. The internet enables this more than anything else in the past, as it enables a shameless ignorant search for quick ‘information’.

If a person is not aware of his ignorance of knowledge he proves to be dangerous to society. The internet websites are teeming with misconceptions and myths, which many people believe due then- arrogant ‘ignorance’ or rather they are gullible because they think that whatever dispensed by the intent is ‘ knowledge ’.

LANGUAGE ACTIVITY

Choose the correct option

Passage 1:

NDTV-Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign ……………………….(has lent/lends) support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign…………………….(aims/has aimed) to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he……………………….. (launch/launched) Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to……………………… (cover/covered) issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging, and menstrual hygiene. The company has also…………………………………………….. (to focus focused) extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project, and rejuvenation of the Yamuna, two of India/s major river bodies.
Answer:

  • lends
  • aims
  • launched
  • cover
  • focused

Passage 2:

Last Summer our house was ……………………….. (Paint/Painted) by me. the job took about two weeks. First, the exterior was washed using warm water and a mild detergent then all the chinks and pores in the walls were……………………. (sealing/sealed) with putty. Alex paint was used because it is easy to apply and cleans up with water. A whole week was needed to finish this part of the job. I was very careful to……………………. (applied/apply the paint evenly because I did not want to have to apply two coats. The color was used that was very close to the original color. Our house is a two-story house, which meant that a tall ladder was needed to do the second story. The paint can have to be balanced on the top rung of the ladder while I………………………………….. (Work/worked). When the job was finished, a great deal of satisfaction was………………………….. (Fell/felt) by me. I had to pat myself on the back. Even my dad said that a good job was done.
Answer:

  • painted
  • sealed
  • apply
  • worked
  • felt

English Summary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *