2004 | 13 | 2(50) | 125-139
Article title

Rationality, Ignorance and Stupidity

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Different types of action imply different types of knowledge. In natural sciences the link between actions and their effects is explicitly given. But in public sphere the knowledge that pretends to explain the connection between behaviour and its alleged purposes is semi-theoretical at best. This difference in competence and in causal concepts employed in the two different fields leads the author to claim that that mistakes in natural sciences can be considered honest acts of ignorance while in the humanities they are often manifestations of ungrounded projections, or--as the author calls them--act of stupidity. Then he points out that honest ignorance is not very dangerous, as it can be cured by supplying appropriate evidence to those who lack knowledge. Stupidity, on the other hand, is more pernicious and harmful, because it is something more complicated. It is ignorance of one's ignorance, a state that cannot be easily cured. As a consequence of the widespread inability to recognise stupidity for what it is, the public nurtures a 'culture of stupidity' that gains social legitimacy easily and without much protest.
  • D. Aleksandrowicz, Europa Universitaet Viadrina, Lst. Philosoph. Grundl. Kulturwiss. Analyse, Frankfurt (O), Germany
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