There are none so blind as those who will not see – Meaning and Origin

Have you ever been trying to talk to someone, but no matter what you say to them, your words just seem to one in one ear and out the other? This is the kind of situation where you might say “There are none so blind as those who will not see”.

“There are none so blind as those who will not see” just means that understanding cannot be forced upon someone who chooses to be ignorant.

If somebody is choosing not to listen to you. The best thing you can do is to give up and move on with your life. Today, I want to delve into where this phrase comes from and why it’s so useful.

Origin of the phrase “There are none so blind as those who will not see”

The phrase actually has its origins in one of the most well-known books in History. I am talking about the Bible.

In the book of Jeremiah, chapter five, verse twelve, it says “Hear now this, oh foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears and hear not.”

This means that a foolish person has eyes so can see what is physically there, but is unable to see wisdom, knowledge or truth.

In Jonathan Swift’s “Polite Conversation”, this quote was paraphrased to “There are none so blind as those who will not see”.

Why it’s useful

Most people will want to be right most of the time. This is part of human nature. And not being too happy about admitting when we’ve made a mistake is acceptable.

The problem comes about when we can’t admit our mistakes. And some people will never be able to bite their tongue and admit they were wrong. When you’re talking to someone like this, trying to get them to admit they’re wrong is like arguing with a brick wall.

Don’t waste your time on people like this.

When you can use: “There are none so blind as those who will not see”

Work

If you’ve ever had a rubbish boss. This phrase can be handy.

Most of us will at some point or another have had a boss who’s running the company into the ground. And whenever people try to tell them what’s wrong and how they can improve, instead of listening, they will blame everyone and everything else.

If you ever have a boss like this, the best thing you can do is quit and get a new job. Because if your boss is like that, the company isn’t going to last very long. And you will be out of a job.

Friends

Most of us will spend most of our time working, we don’t have a lot of time to spend with our friends. We need to make sure that the friends we choose to spend our time with will be worth our time.

A big of this is likely going to be the conversations we can have. You want to learn from your friends but also teach them.

If someone is super set in their ways and will never be changed for anyone, you might want to think twice before being their friend. Nobody wants to be friends with people so stubborn.

Love

Dating can be an adventure. But the question is, is the experience worth it?

Many of us will have dated people who are always blaming you for everything. If you don’t spend enough time together, it’s because you’re always at work. If they cheat, it’s because you couldn’t give them what they wanted.

But you always need to remember, in any relationship, it takes two to tango. And if your partner blind because they’re choosing not to see, it will be a good idea for you to move on and find someone who suits you better.

Blind Etymology

As with most words in our language, the origins of the word “Blind” do not start in England. Before becoming “blind”, it was “Blindaz” in Proto-Germanic.

But even when it did become “blind”, it didn’t mean unable to see. It used to be another way of saying confused. This is likely what it meant when it was written in the Bible, as that book is incredibly old.

It’s also what it probably means in the quote. If you were to suddenly be thrown into a dark room, you wouldn’t be able to see, which would probably make you confused.

Blind is a homophone

“Blind” can mean a lot of different things.

We could be talking about blindness—a physical disability. Or even people who show signs of blindness. I often get told I have “male blindness”.

We could also be talking about doing something without understanding. “You blindly believe whatever you’ve been told”.

You can also use it as a verb “I’m gonna blind you with acid”. Or a noun “pull the blinds, it’s too bright”.

And finally, there’s the famous phrase “blinded by your grace”. This is commonly said in religious events. It just means so in love with God that we can’t see anything but the love of God.

Alternatives to “There are none so blind as those who will not see”

There is more than one idiom that means “don’t argue with people who will never change their mind”.

“Don’t argue with a brick wall” If you can imagine talking to a physical brick wall, you’ll likely find that it won’t respond. And you will never change its mind. The same can be said for stubborn people.

“Don’t play chess with a pigeon. He will knock the board over, and walk around like it’s won”. Someone people are more interested in “winning an argument” than they are in actually learning something new. These people are a waste of time to talk to.

Conclusion

“There are none so blind as those who will not see” has its origins in the Bible, but became what it is today thanks to Jonathan Swift. It’s good to remember because you don’t want to waste your time by arguing with people who will never change their mind.

It can be used when talking about a rubbish boss, an annoying friend, or a selfish partner.

Before it was “blind”, it was the Proto-Germanic “Blindaz”. Blind used to mean confused, but it has changed to mean “unable to see”.

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