Difference Between Ignorance and Apathy

Ignorance vs Apathy

Ignorance and Apathy are two words that are often confused and used interchangeably by people, even though there is a clear difference between these two words. To the modern society, apathy and ignorance are not new concepts as they have been in existence and are practiced by individuals on a daily basis. Even in our daily actions apathy and ignorance can be reflected. First, let us pay attention to the definitions of each term. Apathy can be defined as the lack of interest or enthusiasm displayed towards a subject. Ignorance, on the other hand, can be defined as the lack of knowledge or awareness. Through this article let us examine the differences between ignorance and apathy.

What is Apathy?

As mentioned above, Apathy is when an individual has the awareness and knowledge on a particular subject but displays a lack of interest. This highlights that an individual knows that engaging in a particular behavior is wrong, but he ignores this. This is why it can be considered as a state of indifference. It is believed that apathy is a worse form of evil than anger and hatred because it results in a complete disinterest.

Let us take a simple example from our daily life. In work environments, certain tasks are performed in groups. These groups have a group leader who will be guiding the team and the team members who will follow the instructions of the leader. In a group that has an autocratic leader, who orders and bosses people around, a condition of apathy can be created. This makes the members in the group completely indifferent to the work because the climate of the group is negative. Members may display behavior such as lack of interest, negative attitudes, etc.

The term Apathy is not only used in daily language, but also in certain disciplines such as psychology. In psychology, apathy is a condition where an individual who has undergone a traumatic experience becomes completely numb to emotions or a certain part of his or her life.

Difference Between Ignorance and Apathy

Person with apathy shows indifference

What is Ignorance?

Unlike Apathy, ignorance is lacking knowledge. If a person simply is not aware of a certain practice or has not learned something, he is ignorant. For example, when we say ‘she is rather ignorant about current affairs,’ this highlights that she does not know. Being ignorant can be very disadvantageous for people in general mainly because they have limited knowledge or information, which leads them to faulty decisions and conclusions.

For example, a person who has lived all his life in a rural setting comes to a modernized city. The knowledge that he possesses about the ways of the modern world is very limited. In this sense, he is ignorant. Ignorance is considered as a negative attribute that can be used for a person as it suggests a lack of knowledge, experience, and exposure.

Ignorance vs Apathy

‘She is rather ignorant about current affairs’

What is the difference between Ignorance and Apathy?

• Definition of Ignorance and Apathy:

• Apathy can be defined as the lack of interest or enthusiasm displayed towards a subject.

• Ignorance can be defined as the lack of knowledge or awareness.

• This highlights that, in apathy, the individual has the knowledge but chooses to ignore it whereas, in ignorance, the individual does not have the knowledge.

• Deliberate or not:

• Apathy is a deliberate attempt to discard information or knowledge and behave in the way that the person desires.

• Ignorance is not such an attempt. It is the lack of knowledge.

• Disinterest:

• Apathy displays a disinterest from the individual.

• You cannot see a disinterest from the individual in ignorance.

• Which is worse:

• Apathy can be considered worse than ignorance as the person makes a choice to ignore.

• Impact on Society:

• Apathy can be more dysfunctional to the Society as the members of the society are aware of what should be done or followed but choose to ignore it.

• In ignorance, the members can be informed which will correct the behavior.


Images Courtesy: Paul Cézanne: Pierrot and Harlequin, 1888 and Newspaper via Wikicommons (Public Domain)