Are You Stupid?

Very interesting video (“Bonhoeffer‘s Theory of Stupidity”):

Some quotes (apologies ahead of time for any mis-transcriptions):

Image from the video
Image from the video

In prison, Bonhoeffer began to reflect on how his country of poets and thinkers had turned into a collective of cowards, crooks, and criminals. Eventually, he concluded that the root of the problem was not malice, but stupidity.

In his famous letters from prison, Bonhoeffer argued that stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice, because while “one may protest against evil; it can be exposed and prevented by the use of force. Against stupidity, we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here. Reasons fall on deaf ears.

This much is certain, stupidity is in essence not an intellectual defect, but a moral one.

People who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals in groups, and so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem.

In conversation with him [the stupid person], one virtually feels that one is dealing not all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like, that have taken possession of him.

Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil – of seeing that it is evil.

Punch line:

Only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity.

The sad thing, of course, is that each “side” will watch this video and feel it describes their opponents perfectly.


Are you a stupid person? Would a stupid person recognize they are stupid?

Am I a stupid person? If so, would I be able to recognize I am stupid?

Update: Just saw this comment on the video:

YouTube comment

One time I asked my seventh grade teacher, “Do you know everything?” The reason I asked him this question is because [of] his ability to teach proficiently and his impact on my life as a student. He chuckled [and] then said to me, “Tyrone, I don’t know everything, only a fool knows everything.” That profound message resonate[d] within my heart ever since”

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