Stupidity manifests in two different ways:
Persons are deliberately stupid when they:
"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunder-standing the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc ['English Socialism,' the official ideology of the totalitarian regime in Oceania], and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."|
Deliberate ignorance and stupidity involves not merely the lack of knowledge, but self-destructive turning away from truth in all areas of life. Persons develop a taste for ignorance, the predisposition to embrace erroneous beliefs based on presumption or mere authority. The ignorant person believes he knows what he actually doesn't know; he becomes delusional. He is deranged.
We find it difficult to understand how people today deliberately refuse to look at what is actually happening in the world, believing the lies and distortions their leaders tell them. With a straight face, political, economic, religious, and media figures tell the people that black is white, war is peace, lies are truths, joblessness is economic recovery, ignorance is intelligence.
"For herein is the evil of ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless satisfied with himself: he has no desire for that of which he feels no want." |
Self-love, Plato recognizes, sees its own ignorance as wisdom; it seeks no cure, "the soul wallowing in the mire of every sort of ignorance and by reason of lust becomes the principal accomplice in her own captivity." (Phaedo) It will not let a more competent person perform what he can. Ignorance can only be overcome by an outside force of true wisdom.
Plato distinguished clearly between "simple ignorance," the mere lack of information, and "double ignorance," the absence of knowledge coupled with the delusion of having genuine knowledge. The doubly ignorant person believes not only that he knows everything but that he can do everything. His ignorance keeps the truth from others and his incompetent assumption of authority keeps out those truly qualified to lead. Throughout human history--including the present time--humankind has experienced the horror of rulers who are doubly-ignorant, destroying the very foundation principles of civilized society.