Invincible ignorance (Catholic theology)

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The term "invincible ignorance" has its roots in Catholic theology, where — as the opposite of the term vincible ignorance — it is used to refer to the state of persons (such as pagans and infants) who are ignorant of the Christian message because they have not yet had an opportunity to hear it. The first Pope to use the term officially seems to have been Pope Pius IX in the allocution Singulari Quadam (9 December 1854) and the encyclicals Singulari Quidem (17 March 1856) and Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (10 August 1863). The term, however, is far older than that. Aquinas, for instance, uses it in his Summa Theologica (written 1265–1274),[1] and discussion of the concept can be found as far back as Origen (3rd century).

When and how the term was taken by logicians to refer to the very different state of persons who pigheadedly refuse to attend to evidence (see Invincible ignorance fallacy) remains unclear, but one of its first uses was in the 1959 book Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument by W. Ward Fearnside and William B. Holther.[2]

See also


  1. Aquinas, Summa Theologica Ia IIae q.76 a.2
  2. Fearnside, W. Ward and William B. Holther, Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument, 1959. ISBN 9780133017700.

External links

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>