Where there is an unknowable, there is a promise.
—Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) American Novelist, Playwright
Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.
—Frank Zappa (1940–93) American Rock Guitarist, Singer, Composer
For my part I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance.
—Adlai Stevenson (1900–65) American Diplomat, Politician, Orator
Ignorance is never out of style. It was in fashion yesterday, it is the rage today and it will set the pace tomorrow.
—Frank Lane (1896–1981) American Sportsperson, Businessperson
The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve it, generation after generation.
—Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973) American Novelist, Human Rights Activist
He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.
—Voltaire (1694–1778) French Philosopher, Author
The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modem world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
—Bertrand A. Russell (1872–1970) British Philosopher, Mathematician, Social Critic
Every true genius is bound to be naive.
—Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805) German Poet, Dramatist
Beware of ignorance when in motion; look out for inexperience when in action, and beware of the majority when mentally poisoned with misinformation, for collective ignorance does not become wisdom.
—William J. H. Boetcker (1873–1962) American Presbyterian Minister
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!”
—William Hutchinson Murray (1913–96) Scottish Mountaineer
Among true and real friends, all is common; and were ignorance and envy and superstition banished from the world, all mankind would be friend.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) English Poet, Dramatist, Essayist, Novelist
History shows that there is nothing so easy to enslave and nothing so hard to emancipate as ignorance, hence it becomes the double enemy of civilization. By its servility it is the prey of tyranny, and by its credulity it is the foe of enlightenment.
—Lemuel K. Washburn (1846–1927) American Freethought Writer
What you don’t know can’t hurt you.
When we are not sure, we are alive.
—Graham Greene (1904–91) British Novelist, Playwright, Short Story Writer
A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.
—Saul Bellow (1915–2005) Canadian-American Novelist
Lawyers are the only persons in whom ignorance of the law is not punished.
—Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) British Philosopher, Economist
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–68) American Civil Rights Leader, Clergyman
Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.
—Edgar Degas (1834–1917) French Painter, Sculpture, Printer maker, Artist
It’s innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn’t.
—Mignon McLaughlin (1913–83) American Journalist, Author
I learn by going where I have to go.
—Theodore Roethke (1908–63) American Poet
All I know about humor is that I don’t know anything about it.
—Fred Allen (1894–1956) American Humorist, Radio Personality
A person is never happy except at the price of some ignorance.
—Anatole France (1844–1924) French Novelist
Prejudice and self-sufficiency naturally proceed from inexperience of the world, and ignorance of mankind.
—Joseph Addison (1672–1719) English Essayist, Poet, Playwright, Politician
A wise man in the company of those who are ignorant, has been compared to a beautiful girl in the company of blind men.
—Sa’Di (Musharrif Od-Din Muslih Od-Din) (c.1213–91) Persian Poet
It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though limits to our abilities do not exist.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) French Jesuit Philosopher, Paleontologist
The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance — it is the illusion of knowledge.
—Daniel J. Boorstin (1914–2004) American Historian, Academic, Attorney, Writer
Some folks are wise and some are otherwise.
—Tobias Smollett (1721–71) Scottish Poet, Novelist
Great things are accomplished by those who do not feel the impotence of man. This … is a precious gift.
—Paul Valery (1871–1945) French Critic, Poet
The first step to knowledge is to know that we are ignorant.
I know it was wonderful, but I don’t know how I did it.
—Laurence Olivier (1907–89) English Actor, Producer, Director
By ignorance is pride increased; those most assume who know the least.
—John Gay (1685–1732) English Poet, Dramatist
Basic research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.
—Wernher von Braun (1912–77) German-born American Engineer, Scientist
Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.
—Daniel J. Boorstin (1914–2004) American Historian, Academic, Attorney, Writer
The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.
—Confucius (551–479 BCE) Chinese Philosopher
Dare to be naive.
—Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) American Inventor, Philosopher
Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance, is the death of knowledge.
—Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) English Mathematician, Philosopher
Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.
—Edward Gibbon (1737–94) English Historian, Politician
Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.
—William C. Durant (1861–1947) American Industrialist
To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of ignorance.
—Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888) American Teacher, Writer, Philosopher
The greatest pride, or the greatest despondency, is the greatest ignorance of one’s self.
—Baruch Spinoza (1632–77) Dutch Philosopher, Theologian
Ignorance is an enemy, even to its owner. Knowledge is a friend, even to its hater. Ignorance hates knowledge because it is too pure. Knowledge fears ignorance because it is too sure.
—Sri Chinmoy (1931–2007) Indian Yoga Teacher
As electricity is a great power in the world, so the inner mind is the greatest power available to you. Neither operates independently; both depend upon a separate agency to ignite them to action, and both bring helpful or harmful results according to the wisdom or ignorance with which they are directed.
—Roger McDonald (b.1941) Australian Novelist, Poet, Screenwriter, Writer
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
Ignorance is a prolonged infancy, only deprived of its charm.
—Stanislas de Boufflers (1738–1815) French Political leader, Writer
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
—Charles Darwin (1809–82) English Naturalist
I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.
—Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) Italian Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician