Friday 17 November 2023

In Praise of Stupidity


William Butler Yeats wrote in “The Second Coming” (1920),

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst 

Are full of passionate intensity.”

That was true in Ireland and elsewhere then and now. It was quoted by Roy Jenkins when he left the Labour Party and is the cry of the centrists.

On the other hand, this famous remark of 
Bertrand Russell’s, from his 1933 essay “The Triumph of Stupidity", seems to me not true at all.

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

I would say now the opposite is much more often true. 

Stupidity is close to common sense, cleverness to silliness. 

The stupid by not thinking for themselves embody the wisdom of ancient peoples, while the cocksure intellectuals ignore them.

I am the exception to my rules, naturally.

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