A Thinking Emptiness, or How Can One Trump Stupidity?

Nicolas de Warren, KU Leuven

Although it is commonly held that good sense is the most equally distributed of all things in the world, it is just as commonly acknowledged that human beings excel at that particular talent for misconception and self-deceit called stupidity. Not a day goes by in our lives when we are not confronted by the glaring human aptitude for stupidity, whether in others or ourselves. What is, however, stupidity? How does stupidity differ from ignorance and error? Can philosophy even speak to stupidity without becoming ensnared in the futility of struggling against a phenomenon against which even the gods struggle in vain?

Suggested readings:

Robert Musil,  Über die Dummheit (available in English in the volume « Precision and Soul »)

Friedrich von Schiller, The Maid of Orleans [« Gegen die Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens, » against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain]