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Knowledge and Enslavement

Psuedonymous_Walsh posted this thread...
Jul. 13, 2014 at 9:12 pm

What's more preferable; being knowledgeable and enslaved or ignorant and free?

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Doctorbug replied...
Jul. 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I'd say knowledge is freedom (or at least a major aspect of it). I'd say it's impossible to be free and ignorant at the same time, as ignorance is a form of slavery. If you're ignorant, how whould you know you are free or not.
"The Truth will set you free."

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Psuedonymous_Walsh replied...
Jul. 14, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Doctorbug, have you read the short story Flowers for Algernon? Is knowledge truly freedom though? Some of the best writers and thinkers felt enslaved by their own minds, not to mention actual enslavement from forces like the nazis. Is it any good to know you're enslaved if you also know there's no chance of escape possible?

"Ignorance is bliss"

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Doctorbug replied...
Jul. 15, 2014 at 11:45 am

Weeeelll....the majority of the German people during WWII (was it?) were ignorant of what was going on and didn't feel enslaved because of it, but that didn't change the fact that they actually were enslaved. They were pretty horrified about it after the war.
"Bliss is ignorance" Lol XP
I have not read that short story, what's it about?
"Is it any good to know you're enslaved if you also know there's no chance of escape possible?"
Well, I'm a Christian, so I'm just going to go ahead and say I believe there is always an escape possible. Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian as well and she had a pretty good knowledge of what was going on in Germany during the war. She was captured after hiding Je.ws and put in one of their labor camps. Even though she had no hope of escaping the labor camps, she did have hope in eternal life and it's what kept her going, helping the other women enslaved as well. Her sister was taken with her and died in the labor camps, but before she did, she said to her sister, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."

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Psuedonymous_Walsh replied...
Jul. 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm

The German people thought they were free, the government probably thought the people were free; but yet an outside observer believes that they were not. So, were the German people truly enslaved or were they free? Who gets to define it?

It's about a mentally re.tar.ded man who was given the opportunity to become intelligent through a new experiment. He went through the procedure to become one of the most intelligent men on earth. Suddenly, he noticed all his "friends" really were taking advantage of him, and all his peers mocked him relentlessly. Now more intelligent than them, he became even more of a social outcast. It's really a great read if you have the time. Fairly short (read the short story, not the book; it's better) and really thought provoking.

I'm playing devil's advocate here (pun not intended)... What if there isn't an "eternal life"? That there is no means of escape?

Wow, I sound really cynical xD

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Smitty561 replied...
Jul. 18, 2014 at 12:30 am

Well, I think the original question is flawed. (I don't mean this antagonistically toward you Psuedonymous)
1) This assumes that knowledge is e.n.s.l.a.v.e.m.e.n.t and ignorance is freedom. (but you guys already covered this)
2) I wouldn't take one over the other in every situation. I wouldn't give a child the knowledge of some e.v.i.l things like r.a.p.e. However, I would explain to them that lying is wrong. I think there is a time when someone should know something and that time is very dependent on the personality of the individual (their maturity). It is reminiscent of an amazing scene in The Hiding Place when a young Corrie Ten Boom asks her father a hard question. (I'll just let this excerpt explain)
And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is s.e.x s.i.n?"
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but, to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rake over our heads, and set it on the floor.
"Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he asked.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
"It's too heavy," I said.
"Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way , Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you."
And I was satisfied. More than satisfied-wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions; for now, I was content to leave them in my father's keeping.
P.S. I've had to rewrite this three times now because of the censor, and I can't copy and paste either... ugh. This better work.

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Smitty561 replied...
Jul. 18, 2014 at 9:44 am

Hey pseudonymous I just saw your most recent question, “what if there isn’t an ‘eternal life’?” (also, I love it when people play de.vil’s advocate! But it’s usually me)
Back to the question, If there is no eternal life (He.aven/H.el.l) do what you want with your short time of existence. Why would you be concerned with good and ev.il if there is no reward or punishment? Keep in mind, for most, people what they ‘want’ are simple pleasures. Like: s.e.x, d.ru.g.s, and vi.ol.en.ce. Also what would be the reason for not just taking these simple pleasures? Why shouldn’t I go on a mu.rder spree knowing that at the end I’ll just ki.ll myself?  Then it will all be over.

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EllenMC replied...
Jul. 18, 2014 at 11:05 am

Interesting question - I'm not sure I agree with you Smitty that the question is flawed. If Pseudonym had asked "Is it better to be knowledgeable and therefore enslaved or ignorant and therefore free?" we would have a had a problem for reasons that Doctorbug mentioned... But as it is I think that the thing that still needs to be defined is are we saying that "better" is synonymous with "happier"? Because in my opinion you might be happier if you were ignorant of something bad happening (ie if you were enslaved), but it would still be better for you to know about it. - maybe then you could think about trying to escape/fight it...

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Smitty561 replied...
Jul. 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm

EllenMC I was saying that it was flawed because it commits the fallacy of Begging the Question, which states: assuming the conclusion of an arguement. The question assumbes the conclusion of an arguement on if knowlage is e.n.s.l.a.v.e.m.e.n.t and if Ignorance is freedom. Unless of course this is the arguement he was trying to present. In which case disregard my first point. If he were I would suspect the question to be: When e.n.s.l.a.v.e.d is it preferable to be knowlageable and e.n.s.l.a.v.e.d or ignorant and free.
so, Pseudonymous can you clarify the question a little?

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Jul. 18, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Smitty: just because I don't believe in h.ell does not mean that I'm going on a murder spree. Making ethics purely about reward and punishment ruthlessly oversimplifies a very complex topic. Sure, some people think that way, but not all, not even the majority. So unless all of society has recently transformed into uber-religious sociopaths while I wasn't looking, there is more to ethics than heaven and he.ll.
Back to the original topic, if I had to choose between the two options I would choose knowledge and enslavement. I would rather that than have freedom but be too ignorant to realize it. However, I don't think that the question itself really covers all the options. Freedom itself is a very relative thing, there are many different types and levels. In practice, I think that absolute freedom is impossible. I think, though, that ignorance is more inherently limiting than knowledge. Generally speaking, with knowledge come more options and therefore more freedom. Obviously there are going to be some exceptions to this, of course. Also worth noting is that freedom itself can be a burden, because with it comes responsibility. If you have no freedom, no options, then you have no responsibility: you cannot be blamed for your actions (blame isn't exactly the right prhase for what I'm trying to get at, but it will have to suffice). If you DO have options, however, then you also ust take responsibility for your actions. Ignorance limits your perceived options and therefore limits your responsibility. Knowledge, on th other hand, increases your responsibility.

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stuntddude replied...
Jul. 25, 2014 at 8:22 am

I would wish to be ignorant and free, and I would wish the same on anyone else. Knowledge is useless if one is enslaved with now possible escape, whereas an ignorant but free person can accomplish a lot of things in that state, and will likely be many time happier as well.
Of course, the obvious ideal is to be knowledgeable and free, but that isn't part of the question.

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Psuedonymous_Walsh replied...
Oct. 10, 2014 at 10:33 am

Smitty: The question was made assuming those were your options in a scenario like war and such when it could stand as your options (assuming you didn't choose death which as discussed previous is it's own form of either freedom or enslavement). I was not stating that knowledge in every situation is enslavement nor all ignorance would be freedom. I was simply saying that if you were forced to choose between such what would you choose (i.e. What would be more preferable)?

You would ponder ethics if you were told that there was a possibility of an eternal paradise after death that was granted to the good and refrain from the non ethical actions (depending on the person) until you came to a decision wether this "rumor" was true or not. You most likely wouldn't just k.ill yourself and go on a m.ur.der spree if you knew this was the only time you got on Earth and that it was your only time to live. But then again, you just might.

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poetic_ink replied...
Oct. 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I would think it is preferable to be knowledgable and enslaved, because I personally detest the phrase "ignorance is bliss". Ignorance is what drags humans down, and what prevents us from connecting with others. Humans are social beings, and if we cannot connect with others, we have nothing. If we are ignorant, are we truly free? If we are living our entire lives without an open mind, what do we gain from our so called "freedom"? What is the use of freedom if it does not grant us knowledge? I agree that knowledge sets us free. Knowledge is what opens our mind to new ideas and helps us connect with the world and gives our lives a purpose.

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