Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Man's ignorance on any subject matter can only be described as overwhelming. The sum total of all knowledge and understanding extends way beyond man's mental capacity to absorb , grasp and memorise even the smallest chunk of such an infinite mass. 
Ignorance of course is defined as " the condition of being uneducated , unaware , or uninformed ". Some commentators regard ignorance as a form of incompetence, but for me the best definition comes from an old Burmese proverb : " A man with little learning is like a frog who thinks its puddle a great sea ". 
However, ignoratio elenchi  (  also known as irrelevant conclusion or irrelevant thesis )  is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid , but does not address the issue in question. It is therefore by definition ignorance of the refutation. Nevertheless , this phrase is used more widely to cover the ignoring ( rather than ignorance ) of any contention , not just a refutation. A person is guilty of ignoratio elenchi if his contribution to the discussion fails to meet what his opponent actually said.
A classic example of this occured several years ago when the chairman of the committee ,  of which I was a member , told me that no one else in the room agreed with any of the concerns I had raised regarding a disciplinary matter.  By saying this the chairman had cleverly avoided the need for any discussion to take place on issues I thought were of great significance .  By failing to comment or refute any of my concerns , it was clearly apparent that no one on committee had bothered to pay any attention to what I had actually said. 
So I was left to ponder whether or not any of my concerns had even a modicum of substance or merit , and if they did why was there no discussion at all as to why, or how , they could be challenged or refuted. Indeed ,  I am now utterely convinced that ignoratio elenchi amounts to nothing more than the ignorance of logic.    

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