innocence

innocence

[in-uh-suhns]
innocence, in botany: see madder.

Innocence is a term used to indicate a state of moral purity or general lack of guilt, with respect to any kind of crime, sin, or wrongdoing. Its antonym is corruption. In a legal context, innocence refers to the lack of guilt of an individual, with respect to a crime.

Innocence can also refer to a state of unknowing, where one's experience is lesser, in either a relative view to social peers, or by an absolute comparison to a more common normative scale. In contrast to ignorance, it is generally viewed as a positive term, connoting a blissfully positive view of the world, in particular one where the lack of knowledge stems from a lack of wrongdoing, whereas greater knowledge comes from doing wrong. This connotation may be connected with a popular false etymology explaining "innocent" as meaning "not knowing" (Latin noscere). The actual etymology is from general negation prefix in- and the Latin nocere, "evil" or "guilty".

People who lack the mental capacity to understand the nature of their acts may be regarded as innocent regardless of their behavior. From this meaning comes the term innocent to refer to a child under the age of reason, or a person, of any age, who is severely mentally disabled.

In some cases, the term of "innocence" connotes a pejorative meaning, where an assumed level of experience dictates common discourse or baseline qualifications for entry into another, different, social experience. Since experience is the prime factor in determining a person's point of view, innocence is often also used to imply an ignorance or lack of personal experience.

The lamb is a commonly used symbol of innocence. In Christianity, for example, Jesus is referred to as the "Lamb of God", thus emphasizing his sinless nature. Other symbols of innocence include children, virgins, acacia branches (especially in Freemasonry), nudity, and the color white.

References

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