Why would someone say "pride is ignorance"?

Thanks to Pete Ashly for the A2A.

Clearly, from the eight answers already offered, this could mean many different things to different people. So it probably would be wise to ask whoever is expressing the sentiment in a given moment what they, specifically, mean by it.

In part, I think the difficulty in interpretation is a result of the words being used. Because of my own consideration of this topic over the years (and my own unfortunate firsthand experiences with its implications), I immediately translated the phrase to “arrogance = ignorance.” And even then, what I really am thinking when I say that is “reckless arrogance = willful ignorance.” But, as we see in Charles J. Hunsinger’s answer, not everyone views pride as “reckless arrogance” (or even, using different language, “excessive overconfidence” or hubris), and Chas Warren doesn’t view ignorance as a willful lack of knowledge. So here again, for different people this phrase will inevitably be interpreted in different ways.

Interestingly, we actually see this difference echoed in the dictionary definition of “pridefulness:”

1) A reasonable or justifiable sense of one's worth or importance

2) An often unjustified feeling of being pleased with oneself or with one's situation or achievements

That said, because of how I filter the phrase through my own experiences, what resonates about this statement runs along similar lines to what Pete Ashly and Ankur Sah shared in their responses: if we truly understood the cascading dependencies of cause and effect - and the complete entanglement of our own agency with other forces and conditions - our pridefulness (in the sense of arrogance or overconfidence) would be greatly attenuated as a general rule - at least regarding our own choices and accomplishments. So, in this sense, a functional deficit in the accuracy of one’s own conceptions about the self and its surrounding world - as well as in the ultimate efficacy of one’s own actions in that context - is created by ignorance; in a way, excessive overconfidence is just one of many such deficits that result from not knowing.

But this is only one side of the coin, which effectively relates one consequence of pridefulness to a condition of ignorance. The other side of the coin, also pointed out by other answers offered by Hipcat Printery, Kayla Choi and User, is that a condition of ignorance can result in the consequence of pridefulness. In this sense, a functional deficit in the accuracy of one’s own conceptions about the self and the surrounding world - as well as in the ultimate efficacy of one’s own actions in that context - is created by hubris; and here, too, ignorance is just one of many potentially negative outcomes that may result.

With these two perspectives in mind, we might propose that the phrase “pride is ignorance” is a sort of dialectic koan from which a well-rounded truth can be synthesized, describing a feedback loop that will snowball into greater and greater error. Aspects of this idea are captured in the Dunning–Kruger effect; here we see the two sides of the coin mirrored, with ignorance invoking pridefulness, and pridefulness invoking ignorance.

What is most interesting to me is how this dynamic can be amplified in groups, where pridefulness and ignorance play off of each other not just in one individual, but between individuals as they interact with each other and conform to the group’s agenda, thereby enlarging the scope of both hubris and a pervasive lack of understanding. The disastrous historical consequences of such interplay are well-known - with everything from the Inquisition to the Red Scare being fed by the ignorance/arrogance snowball effect - which is, I think, why Santayana intoned: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Lastly, for me this question also evokes thoughts about a contrasting dialectic: “humility is insight.” Here, too, there are variations of interpretation, but a case can be made for humility leading to insight, and insight leading to humility. And here, too, a group of people that embrace an ongoing dialectic synthesis around these concepts can amplify effects both individually and collectively.

My 2 cents.

(see https://www.quora.com/Why-would-someone-say-pride-is-ignorance)


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