Thomas PaineThomas Paine, (1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author

Thomas Paine Quote

“Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of Government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”

Thomas PaineThomas Paine
~ Thomas Paine

Ratings and Comments

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

Reason can exist in the presence of total ignorance, and ignorance can exist dispite clear reasoning. They are ortoganal to each other, not opposites. Reason is the opposite of irreason, and ignorance the opposite of knowledge. When the basic axiom is so wrong, so too are the conclusions drawn from it... which is clearly both reasonable and knowledable.

E Archer, NYC
  • Reply
E Archer, NYC Anonymous, Reston, VA US 10/25/20

This circular logic goes nowhere.  "Irreason" is not even a word.  "Ignorance" is not a lack of knowledge per se, but the 'ignoring' of facts.  It is not so much that you are unknowledgeable it's just that your information and thus your conclusions are incomplete (or just plain untrue)  an educated man can very easily be an ignorant man.  True reason cannot take sides other than to pursue the truth.  What do you do when the truth is in opposition with your sacred cows?

Ken, Allyn, WA

Mr. Reston has a point as the definition shows...... REASON: PHILOSOPHY intellect as basis for knowledge: the ability to think logically regarded as a basis for knowledge, as distinct from experience or emotions.....The opposite of reason is an emotional response, something which I is often observed in liberals; for example, tax the rich even if it hurts the economy and the poor. The fact that it causes pain for the rich is all that matters to the liberal-an emotional response. The rest of Paine's quote is astute. The revolutionary French government ran on excessive emotion. The revolutionary American government, for the most part, ran on reason.

E Archer, NYC

The quote is clear and concise -- we can rule ourselves by reason or be ruled by others because of our ignorance.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Those who govern too often prefer ignorance in the people.

Hank Rearden, Burr Ridge ILL

Paine was envisioning an educated populace; hence the creation and promotion of our elementary public school system as well as all the state land -grant colleges and universities that would be founded in the 19th century. All that, to create an informed educated thinking population. What do we have now? Somewhere in the thirties socialists began the incremental takeover of our educational systems to the point where we now have students wasting their time money and brain capacity on folderol such as Womens Studies, Black Studies and Social Justice. None of those students will ever cure cancer or leave a fingerprint on the world. But they will decide that the world owes them something when it is too late for them to turn the clock back and get on a productive path.... Education and government "service" are the routes to prosperity now - and where have we seen this before? Confucian China, leading up to the communist revolution, that's where.

Bobble, No. Ferrisburgh, VT


Ronw13, Yachats OR

Commonsense lends itself well to logical reasoning. Which is well measured through and by experience. Which is our guide to sound wholesome wisdom. Education is the key to independence. More so Liberty and Freedom, are the product.

Mike, Pleasant Hill

Well stated and right on Mr. Hank Reardon.

caden, chicago

It means, that one with reason is independent and self-reliant on their own, while being ignorant will just have you being dependent on others thoughts, and what they think.


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