Ignorance

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IGNORANCE. The want of knowledge.
     2. Ignorance is distinguishable from error. Ignorance is want of knowledge; error is the non-conformity or opposition of our ideas to the truth. Considered as a motive of our actions, ignorance differs but little from error. They are generally found together, and what is said of one is said of both.
     3. Ignorance and error, are of several kinds. 1. When considered as to their object, they are of law and of fact. 2. When examined as to their origin, they are voluntary or involuntary, 3. When viewed with regard to their influence on the affairs of men, they are essential or non-essential.
     4.-1. Ignorance of law and fact. 1. Ignorance of law, consists in the want of knowledge of those laws which it is our duty to understand, and which every man is presumed to know. The law forbids any one to marry a woman whose husband is living. If any man, then, imagined he could marry such a woman, he would be ignorant of the law; and, if he married her, he would commit an error as to a matter of law. How far a party is bound to fulfill a promise to pay, upon a supposed liability, and in ignorance of the law, see 12 East, R. 38; 2 Jac. & Walk. 263; 5 Taunt. R. 143; 3 B. & Cresw. R. 280; 1 John. Ch. R. 512, 516; 6 John. Ch. R. 166; 9 Cowen's R. 674; 4 Mass. R. 342; 7 Mass. R. 452; 7 Mass. R. 488; 9 Pick. R. 112; 1 Binn. R. 27. And whether he can be relieved from a contract entered into in ignorance or mistake of the law. 1 Atk. 591; 1 Ves. & Bea. 23, 30; 1 Chan. Cas. 84; 2 Vern. 243; 1 John. Ch. R. 512; 2 John. Ch. R. 51; 1 Pet. S. C. R. 1; 6 John. Ch. R. 169, 170; 8 Wheat. R. 174; 2 Mason, R. 244, 342.
     5.-2. Ignorance of fact, is the want of knowledge as to the fact in question. It would be an error resulting from ignorance of a fact, if a man believed a certain woman to be unmarried and free, when in fact, she was a married woman; and were he to marry her under that belief, he would not be criminally responsible. Ignorance of the laws of a foreign government, or of another state; is ignorance of a fact. 9 Pick. 112. Vide, for the difference between ignorance of law and ignorance of fact, 9 Pick. R. 112; Clef. des Lois Rom. mot Fait; Dig. 22, 6, 7.
     6.-2. Ignorance is either voluntary or involuntary. 1. It is voluntary when a party might, by taking reasonable pains, have acquired the necessary knowledge. For example, every man might acquire a knowledge of the laws which have been promulgated, a neglect to become acquainted with them is therefore voluntary ignorance. Doct. & St. 1, 46; Plowd. 343.
     7.-2. Involuntary ignorance is that which does not proceed from choice, and which cannot be overcome by the use of any means of knowledge known to him and within his power; as, the ignorance of a law which has not yet been promulgated.
     8.-3. Ignorance is either essential or non-essential. 1. By essential ignorance is understood that which has for its object some essential circumstance so intimately connected with the: matter in question, and which so influences the parties that it induces them to act in the business. For example, if A should sell his horse to B, and at the time of the sale the horse was dead, unknown to the parties, the fact of the death would render the sale void. Poth. Vente, n. 3 and 4; 2 Kent, Com. 367.
     9.-2. Non-essential or accidental ignorance is that which has not of itself any necessary connexion with the business in question, and which is not the true consideration for entering into the contract; as, if a man should marry a woman whom he believed to be rich, and she proved to be poor, this fact would not be essential, and the marriage would therefore be good. Vide, generally, Ed. Inj. 7; 1 Johns. h. R. 512; 2 Johns. Ch. R. 41; S. C. 14 Johns. R 501; Dougl. 467; 2 East, R. 469; 1 Campb. 134: 5 Taunt. 379; 3 M. & S. 378; 12 East, R. 38; 1 Vern. 243; 3 P. Wms. 127, n.; 1 Bro. C. C. 92; 10 Ves. 406; 2 Madd. R. 163; 1 V. & B. 80; 2 Atk. 112, 591; 3 P. Wms. 315; Mos. 364; Doct. & Stud. Dial. 1, c. 26, p. 92; Id. Dial. 2, ch. 46, p. 303; 2 East, R. 469; 12 East, R. 38; 1 Fonb. Eq. B. 1, ch. 2, Sec. 7, note v; 8 Wheat. R. 174; S. C. 1 Pet. S. C. R. 1; 1 Chan. Cas. 84; 1 Story, Eq. Jur. Sec. 137, note 1; Dig. 22, 6; Code, 1, 16; Clef des Lois Rom. h.t.; Merl. Repert. h.t.; 3 Sav. Dr. Rom. Appendice viii., pp. 337 to 444.

References in classic literature ?
I revered our theology, and aspired as much as any one to reach heaven: but being given assuredly to understand that the way is not less open to the most ignorant than to the most learned, and that the revealed truths which lead to heaven are above our comprehension, I did not presume to subject them to the impotency of my reason; and I thought that in order competently to undertake their examination, there was need of some special help from heaven, and of being more than man.
And, in fine, of false sciences I thought I knew the worth sufficiently to escape being deceived by the professions of an alchemist, the predictions of an astrologer, the impostures of a magician, or by the artifices and boasting of any of those who profess to know things of which they are ignorant.
Then the just is like the wise and good, and the unjust like the evil and ignorant?
Then the just has turned out to be wise and good and the unjust evil and ignorant.
I know not in what manner, under what form of falsehood he had imposed on you; but his success is not perhaps to be wondered at, ignorant as you previously were of everything concerning either.
In the first place, we are much too ignorant in regard to the whole economy of any one organic being, to say what slight modifications would be of importance or not.
We are profoundly ignorant of the causes producing slight and unimportant variations; and we are immediately made conscious of this by reflecting on the differences in the breeds of our domesticated animals in different countries,--more especially in the less civilized countries where there has been but little artificial selection.
We are far too ignorant, in almost every case, to be enabled to assert that any part or organ is so unimportant for the welfare of a species, that modifications in its structure could not have been slowly accumulated by means of natural selection.
He said if I warn't so ignorant, but had read a book called Don Quixote, I would know without asking.
I am ignorant if these remarks are new, or if they will be confirmed by closer examination ; but I think, that, on a hasty observation, Coningsburgh offers means of curious study to those who may wish to trace the history of architecture back to the times preceding the Norman Conquest.
By all which, instead of being discouraged, they are fifty times more violently bent upon prosecuting their schemes, driven equally on by hope and despair: that as for himself, being not of an enterprising spirit, he was content to go on in the old forms, to live in the houses his ancestors had built, and act as they did, in every part of life, without innovation: that some few other persons of quality and gentry had done the same, but were looked on with an eye of contempt and ill-will, as enemies to art, ignorant, and ill common-wealth's men, preferring their own ease and sloth before the general improvement of their country."
In this model, a closed and homogeneous population is divided into three groups: ignorants (I, who have not yet heard of the rumor), spreaders (S, who spread the rumor), and stiflers (R, who have heard the rumor but have ceased to spread it).