Have you ever been in a situation where you’re trying to explain something to someone and they just won’t get it? Perhaps your friend has a terrible boyfriend. Deep down, you can tell your friend knows it too, but they just won’t admit it.
It’s so frustrating, right?
There Are None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See – Meaning
“There are none so blind as those who will not see” refers to those who have full use of their eyesight but refuse to observe what’s right in front of them. They are thus more impaired than those who are literally blind. It refers to people’s attitudes and ignorance.
This proverb serves as a warning to people to not be too set in their ideology at the expense of new information. It encourages you to be willing to look at the world in different ways and be open to seeing new ways of living.
There Are None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See – Origin
“There are none so blind as those who will not see” is a proverb that comes from scripture. It’s not a direct quote from the Bible but echoes a phrase found in the King James Bible or King James Version (KJV).
Jeremiah 5:21 reads:
- Hear now this, O foolish people, without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.
The Bible frequently addresses the concept of blindness. In Matthew 9:26-27 Jesus is depicted as healing the vision of two blind men, who are so grateful for his efforts that they go and spread the word of his powers across the land.
This can be interpreted as Jesus literally healing these men’s vision, but it can also be viewed as him opening their eyes by sharing the gospel of Christianity with them, which they then go on to spread.
In Jeremiah 5:21, those who “have eyes and see not” are not vision-impaired; they are unwilling to acknowledge the truths of the world, which leaves them ignorant and morally impaired.
It was writer John Heywood who said “there are none so blind as those who will not see” first. He wrote the quote in a form close to its current one in his 1546 book of proverbs:
- Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee, that wilfully will nother heare nor see
There Are None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See – Similar Quotes
Let’s look at some quotes that express similar sentiments to “there are none so blind as those who will not see”.
- Willful ignorance.
This idiomatic phrase is used to refer to someone choosing to ignore a piece of information as they fear the knowledge will force them to change their behavior in difficult ways. This term is also used in legal contexts.
- Willful blindness.
It’s the exact same meaning as “willful ignorance”, just with slightly different phrasing.
- We see what we want to see.
This phrase means that our preconceived ideas about things shape the way that we see the world around us. Two people can see the exact same event and come away with completely different stories about it.
Phrases That Mean the Opposite of “There Are None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See”
It’s difficult to think of phrases that mean the opposite of “there are none so blind as those who will not see”. However, there is one common idiom that delivers a different message:
- Ignorance is bliss.
This phrase means that sometimes it’s good to be unaware of what’s going on in the world around us, as, if we are aware, it will only make us sad and stressed. To keep moving through the world with your eyes closed to difficult truths and troubles is to have a happy existence.
Correct Ways to Say “There Are None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See”
One common variation of the phrase “there are none so blind as those who will not see” is “there are none so blind as those who refuse to see”.
This variant phrase retains the exact same meaning, with “refuse” arguably being a strong word to use.
Incorrect Ways to Say “There Are None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See”
One incorrect way to say “there are none so blind as those who will not see” is to slightly alter the quote to “there are none so blind as those who cannot see”.
This is incorrect as it changes the sentiment of the proverb. The point is that people are able to see something but choose not to. People who physically cannot see have no choice in this.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.