Are the origins of this widely used phrase known? If so is it attributable to one person?
Far as I know, it originated in the novel 1984, by George Orwell.
“Where ignorance is bliss
'Tis folly to be wise.”
Thomas Gray: [Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College]
Evans, Bergen, Ph. D., Dictionary of Quotations, Delacorte Press, NY, 1968, p. 338.
I have no idea what the origin of the phrase is.
But I do know that ignorance is truly bliss. So get off this board and don’t look back if you want to remain blissful. I’m quite blissful and I peruse the SD all the time, but I have an unusual advantage. I retain NOTHING. La de da de da da da…
I thought it refered to the quality of Steak, even though you should know better.
The poem was written in 1742.
Reminds of the study that found that stupid people don’t realize that they are stupid because “THEY ARE STUPID!”. :wally Got to do a google on that , I believe it was a USA Today report a couple of years back . . .
You may be thinking of “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” (1999) by David Dunning and Justin Kreuger (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 77: 1121-34.), which won the Ig Nobel Prize in Psychology in 2000.
How serendititous that Ignatz was poster number 3! I popped in here to say that, in olden times, to Krazy Kat, Ignatz (The Mouse) was bliss.
In a popular TV series, ignorance is Bluth.
Yes, it is!
Ignorance is not bliss - it is oblivion. Philip Wylie
There’s a Nobel Prize in psychology?
No, there isn’t.
I think you missed a key word, Gaspode.
Knowledge of certain things can destroy happiness.
I just had to interject that, I know it’s not really on topic.
Merde! My cover is blown. New contest: In which film(s) do I reside? (See posting location for a hint.)
The true origin has been pointed out, but just FWIW the third line of the Ingsoc credo is “Ignorance is strength”.
I think “ignorance is bliss” was first used by Oscar Mayer, when asked “What’re those things made of?”
I don’t know where the phrase originated, and I’m perfectly happy with that.
What a fun topic! Thanks, Paradoxical Bum.
It’s important to realize that Gray wasn’t advocating ignorance. Remember the first word of the quote: “Where ignorance is bliss…” This can be read as a gentle reminder that while it’s okay sometimes to be the smartest person in the room, it can be dangerous to be the only smart person in the room. Similarly, Alexander Pope did not say “Knowledge is a dangerous thing,” he said “a little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”
Straight explorations of the “ignorance is bliss” idea can be found at least as far back as Ecclesiastes, which is such an amazing freethinking downer of a book I’m amazed that it made the cut for inclusion in the Bible: “In much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth wisdom increaseth sorrow” (Eccl. 1:18). Along the same vein, as Qadgop the Mercotan proposed, selective ignorance has often been seen as necessary for happiness. James Beattie, who isn’t quoted much today because he spent most of his time trying to prove David Hume was an idiot, wrote “Be ignorance thy choice where knowledge leads to woe.” How you were supposed to determine that in advance he left undisclosed. Krazy Kat (I’m indebted to AskNott for thinking of her), though a cartoon, may represent the most complete unironic explication yet. For her, ignorance is not only bliss but purity and the only protection she needs in a hostile, nonsensical world.
I can’t prove it, but I’ve often thought that the whole thing was conceived and perpetuated by literate snobs who were having trouble reconciling their own manifest intellectual superiority with their angst at living in an unappreciative world which was somehow managing to get along without benefit of their wisdom (see esp.* Catcher in the Rye*, any teenager’s diary).
If you step back further, into the garden in Genesis, you will find Adam and Eve in bliss until they eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
How to interpret this, whether it is really a condemnation of knowledge or whether it should be read to mean that disobedience of God’s commands leads to the experience of evil (where only good was known before), has been debated for a long, long time.