Ignorance is Bliss….I Don’t Trust Bliss

“Ignorance is Bliss” is a very often discussed controversial idea. I mean thinking is exhausting, so very infuriating and seemingly pointless. I’ve been told that generally nothing good ever comes from thinking too much. Well, Dr. Yohannes Asfaw aka John and esteemed Author Amanuel Sahle disagree.

Last night was a very good night. I totally ignored studying for my upcoming reaction engineering exam and went to a discussion about critical thinking instead. It was worth it. I had so much coffee. Also, I might have finally come to appreciate the voices in my head because I hear the alternative is a much worse phenomenon.

I’ll try to remember the fragments because I wasn’t taking notes. And while I am deeply quoting the two guests mentioned above, this following conclusion is from my understanding. The discussion was in Tigrinya and my Tigrinya is not as sharp as I would like it to be. It’s safe to say that as I write this from memory, I might have had to translate the discussion into Amharic in my head and then into English.

Here goes.

….because thinking is exhausting, aren’t we better off just not thinking at all? The answer to that is, no we aren’t. Socrates thought that the unexamined life was a life not worth living. And he just might be right. If we didn’t wonder and try to learn about the life we are living, why would we bother at all? Technically, this life will just keep going and going and leading us down a totally dangerous path….

…much of the contemplation about life and the meaning of life and one’s purpose happens for people before they finish their thirties and after that age, we will not be wondering as much about why we are here…..the contemplation gets so loud sometimes and it doesn’t feel very nice which is why many young people resort to drugs and alcohol to shut off these thoughts and it works too but when finally the time to contemplate and think is up, it will have been time wasted and the end is not a very good one…..we shouldn’t still be wondering about purpose at forty…..

….animals think. An antelope will graze very close to a cheetah that has eaten its fill because the antelope will see the way the cheetah is sitting or the way it’s belly puffs up and the antelope will know that it’s safe to come close to its predator…. dogs guide blind people and in some very awesome cases run errands…. Animals are however not capable of deep analysis and their thought process is not a very complex one; it is linear. …

…..many people usually do things they regret and during the self-beating-up stage of regret they start to think, “Why did I do that?” The real question they should be asking is, “Why did I think that?” because all the time, the thought comes first. And the problem to doing something stupid has its sources with not thinking something through…….(I don’t know about this one. There are times where overthinking and overcontemplating simple things might have kept us from doing things that would have helped us rather than hurt us. Life’s full of dilemmas I guess.)

….in this age of complex ideas and philosophies, there is and has always been a simple duality to everything. Thought and action. People will be fighting and killing each over ideas like ethnicity, gender, sexuality. All educated people have this disease of ማካበድ-ing. (I could have written that in English but I just love the way John said it that it made me laugh so hard so I’m keeping it in Amharic.) Everything could have been explained as thought and action; rather we translate everything in the context of culture, religion and all that stuff to give every action some significance…

…..if one claims to understand something deeply and have a deep knowledge of it, explaining it to other people should come very easily to him/her because the truth is simple and elegant. If one complicates something further as they explain it, then perhaps this person doesn’t understand it very well either….

….(I also got to ask a question about whether there is such a thing as original idea. John simplified my very well crafted question with an answer so singular. I’m going to kind of quote him directly here) “No. There is no such thing a new idea. I teach creative writing at the Adi Haki campus and every time I start the class, I tell my students that the course title is a lie. It isn’t creative writing because there is nothing new to create. We are always reflecting the outside world back to the world in a literary sense so my course should have been literary writing, not creative writing.” ….

After this discussion, I thought that looking for that button to shut off my thoughts seems like a very welcome idea most of the time but if I didn’t have these voices in my head, I would be bored to death. And while critical thinking sometimes sounds synonymous with overthinking and overcontemplation which seems to take so much energy and time, I guess the result is us actually becoming the rational and intelligent creatures we pretend to be. Critical thinking in this case does not mean criticizing everything but rather weighing all sides to an idea before coming to a conclusion.

….it might be impossible for us to think critically all the time and it doesn’t usually seem like we have the time to sit down and think everything we do thoroughly but everyone is capable to do this critical thinking….everyone is a thinker and if one didn’t think and if this lucky bastard had somehow found some way to turn off his/her thoughts, it must be a truly zombie-like life this person is living…..it seems like a very blissful life that the detached people live….no news of the world, no word of the injustice, no social life, no need to prove oneself to anyone or need to be anything,… somehow movies make it appear like it is a very sexy and doable thing to be this detached but I don’t know….maybe ignorance is bliss….but bliss doesn’t seem like a very trustworthy concept to me personally….

…. philosophers are known as deep thinkers……

….. not thinking can sometimes lead to one simply following the masses wherever they go….and being someone who thinks out of the box is a very dangerous thing. Many people like Socrates and Galileo have been executed for simply thinking out of the box….. sometimes thinking different doesn’t mean one is wrong …. it almost always requires one to pay the ultimate sacrifice though….

….Bliss is not ignorance but rather deep contemplation….I don’t remember where I heard that…..

P.S. I bought a couple of books by Amanuel Sahle titled, “The God, the Bang and the Ugly” and “The Universe According to Delphi”. I hear they are a promising read and I’m hoping they’ll be thought provocative. One or both will probably occupy my weekend after my exam so if they are any good I’ll be reviewing them or bombarding my Facebook page with excerpts.

P.P.S. Wow I really need to study.


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