Tuesday, January 14, 2014
And within this mildly-acid miasma, there floats the thought that the trouble with stupidity is not so much the self-referential delight at being able to cite an idiocy as it is the harm that stupidity is capable of inflicting.
"Everyone knows..." for example. How many are willing to find their certainty and peace of mind in the knowledge that others agree? No doubt it is part of the longing to belong, to be social, to be part of some social matrix.
But relying on the certainty of others is such a fragile touchstone. God, heaven, hell, goodness, politics, money, love, books, rituals, terrorism, nationalism ... it's not hard to find a setting in which "everyone knows" and, more, to rely on that knowledge for a personal peace of mind.
If lots and lots and lots of people agree with me, then I must be right. And since I am right, there is no need for me to examine whether I am right.
LaRochefoucauld once wrote, more or less, "the intelligence of the group is inversely proportionate to its number." True, he wrote from an aristocratic and probably arrogant station in life, but enter a group setting and it is hard to evade his thrust. Properly inspired, groups can prove themselves acutely stupid.
I can see nothing wrong with agreeing with others, but the notion that their agreement is the cornerstone of my own thoughts and beliefs strikes me as a step too far.
Others will probably see it differently.