A Passion for Ignorance

Renata Salecl

£22.00

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Princeton University Press
29 September 2020
ISBN: 9780691195605
Hardback

From the publisher

An original and provocative exploration of our capacity to ignore what is inconvenient or traumatic

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.