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A Passion for Ignorance

What We Choose Not to Know and Why

Renata Salecl

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Princeton University Pres
01 January 2021
Ignorance, whether passive or active, conscious or unconscious, has always been a part of the human condition, Renata Salecl argues. What has changed in our post-truth, postindustrial world is that we often feel overwhelmed by the constant flood of information and misinformation. It sometimes seems impossible to differentiate between truth and falsehood and, as a result, there has been a backlash against the idea of expertise, and a rise in the number of people actively choosing not to know. The dangers of this are obvious, but Salecl challenges our assumptions, arguing that there may also be a positive side to ignorance, and that by addressing the role of ignorance in society, we may also be able to reclaim the role of knowledge.

Drawing on philosophy, social and psychoanalytic theory, popular culture, and her own experience, Salecl explores how the passion for ignorance plays out in many different aspects of life today, from love, illness, trauma, and the fear of failure to genetics, forensic science, big data, and the incel movement - and she concludes that ignorance is a complex phenomenon that can, on occasion, benefit individuals and society as a whole.

The result is a fascinating investigation of how the knowledge economy became an ignorance economy, what it means for us, and what it tells us about the world today.

'A thoughtful, nuanced examination of the social and psychological motivations for - and consequences of - ignorance or denial...

At a time when fake news, propaganda, political rhetoric, and dueling experts dominate the media, [Salecl]'s analysis offers a fresh way to think about the decisions each of us make to 'embrace ignorance and denial.' - Kirkus Reviews
By:   Renata Salecl
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   New edition
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780691195605
ISBN 10:   0691195609
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   01 January 2021
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Renata Salecl, a philosopher and sociologist, is professor at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London and senior researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her books include The Tyranny of Choice and On Anxiety.

Reviews for A Passion for Ignorance: What We Choose Not to Know and Why

A thoughtful, nuanced examination of the social and psychological motivations for-and consequences of-ignorance or denial. . . . At a time when fake news, propaganda, political rhetoric, and dueling experts dominate the media, [Salecl]'s analysis offers a fresh way to think about the decisions each of us make to 'embrace ignorance and denial. * Kirkus Reviews * [A] compellingly topical book, which ranges from genetics to fake news. ---Andrew Robinson, Nature


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