How do Fools Continue to Coexist?

By: Radcliffe Bent

How does a fool know he is menace? In short, he doesn’t. Hence, he remains a menace… to us. To himself, however, he is himself. He is “a simple man,” brought up in a humble family. Were the fool that he is, in fact, an affrontery to all, he would cease to be a fool. As such, the fool remains, asserting points all know to be false.

But lo, how does the fool persist in being himself? How does the fool remain a fool?

Can he not learn? If so, is his position hopeless? Does he even care?

Before we find out how the fool exists, we need to assume that those we consider dumb truly are dumb. In other words, we must assume that knaves believe the views they purport, and are not simply “trolling.”

It takes true intelligence to mock another: true intelligence being defined as mocking others, in our way.

Moving on, I ask again, how is it the case that people believe their own views?

Bertrand Russell, one of the premier philosophers of the 20th century, posits his own account of why this phenomenon might be the case. Russell, in his History of Western Philosophy, says:

“A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

Russell, in essence, seems to suggest that one who is “stupid” errs in his interpreting anything.

We can say that the above is true of anyone. Russell’s explanation does not seem sufficient. It seems to say that a person believes dumb things because he or she is dumb. Saying as much seems viciously circular, however, perhaps this is the tragedy of the fool.

The tragedy of the average man is that he is trapped within himself. He is not even aware he is a fool. He reduces all reason into his reason. We can get a glimpse of his reasoning by considering ourselves when near fatally sleep-deprived.

Science suggest that missing even just one day of sleep leads to our exhibiting thought processes similar to that of schizophrenics.

So, think of yourself going without sleep for three days. You then experience psychotic delusions which you cannot tell are delusions. Your thoughts, to the outside world, entail logical contradictions. To you, however, they are your thoughts.

Such is the problem of the average man, he cannot tell he is himself. He is too inarticulate, he cannot make sense of his surroundings.

And so, reader, you too have a problem. How can you be certain you are not the average man?

Perhaps you are female. If so, the question still remains: how can you know?


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