Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Ignorance and Apathy

Ignorance vs Apathy

What is the difference between ‘ignorance’ and ‘apathy’? Both words have a meaning related to the way an individual thinks, or a mindset. Also, both words are generally used in a negative sense when describing a person. For example: The criminal behaved ignorant and apathetic in front of the judge.

‘Ignorance’ is a state of being or condition meaning not having knowledge or lacking in understanding. It results from a deficiency in education. For example: The man blamed his mistake on ignorance. It is directly related to ‘ignorant’, which means being unaware or uneducated. For example: He was ignorant of the traffic laws, so he unknowingly broke them. ‘Ignorance’ is generally used to describe a person that makes a mistake or causes a problem caused by not knowing something. It is in effect, an intellectual deficiency.

‘Apathy’ is a state of being or condition that means not having interest or emotion about something. It can also be said that an apathetic person is indifferent or insensible. It usually is used in a negative connotation. For example: The teacher was saddened by the student’s apathy for learning. An apathetic person, or a person possessing apathy is not necessarily ignorant, they simply don’t care.

While both ‘apathy’ and ‘ignorance’ are a mindset, ‘apathy’ implies more of an emotional state, while ‘ignorance’ implies more of a state of circumstance. When using these terms it is usually understood that an ignorant person would do something different if they knew better, but an apathetic person is not changed by an increase in knowledge. To reach an apathetic person, their emotions or their heart must be touched and changed. However, an ignorant person can be changed in their mindset simply with an increase in education. Apathy can be a state that comes and goes with inclination and alteration in emotion, but ignorance either exists in a person or it doesn’t. Once a person is educated about whatever they were ignorant about, the state of ignorance is gone.

It should be noted, as well, that ignorance can cause apathy. A lack of education about the world or something specific in it could lead a person to not have interest. On the contrary though, apathy can never lead to ignorance. So even though there may be a connection between these words they are used very differently in the English language. It is wise not to be ignorant or apathetic about their usage.


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