Four Attitudes Toward Foolishness

3 Attitudes

On any controversial subject that seems to demand an opinion, we think of mistaken views as foolish.  And at any given time, concerning that subject, our attitude toward that foolishness can be pulled in at least three directions or reside in a more nebulous, honest, natural position.

In the comments, please share with us how you’re foolishness has fluxed over the years.

PS: Today my daughter and I start our 3-week couch-surfing adventure.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

5 responses to “Four Attitudes Toward Foolishness

  1. I’m reading “The Guru Papers” by Kramer and Alstad, which is excellent as an analysis of spirituality in general, not just the phenomena of gurus and cults.

    They have a section on recovering after you leave a cult. One of many reasons it’s difficult to leave, of course, is that you have to admit that you have been fooled (so “Never Been Fooled” will no longer be an option). But then you know that you *can* be fooled—so you may be fooled again.

    And, they say, “Never Again” leads to cynicism, isolation, and depression. (This is closely related to my analysis of nihilism, also as “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”) So this at least saves you from getting caught up in the next shiny-looking cult that comes along, but is not at all a good outcome. (I’m afraid that a Lite version of this is common among atheists, rationalists, and naturalists—although it is possible to adopt a healthy openness to spirituality while maintaining atheism, rationalism, and naturalism (as you seem to!).)

    “I am a Fool” is also a bad outcome if it means that you can’t trust yourself. Their analysis of cult recovery is that you have to regain a reasoned level of self-trust, realizing both that you *can* be fooled, but that (understanding *how* you were fooled) it’s unlikely that you will be sucked into something so destructive again. Then you can be risk openness again—while realizing that it *is* a risk.

    So in terms of your diagram, perhaps they’d advocate the central position. “Not Quite As Foolish As Before,” maybe. This is uncomfortable; you have to maintain an understanding of the nebulosity of your own degree of gullibility. We never like to hold that kind of ambiguity; we want a final answer.

    But this is an area in “final” answers are exactly the problem. “Final answers” are what cults offer.

    A healthy spirituality has to stop at provisional answers, if that. Really, better, to offer general methods for approaching spiritual issues, with no answers supplied at all!

  2. Best wishes on your adventure Sabio!

    I like what David said above, maybe a “not as foolish as before” is where we should all desire to be.

  3. @ David: superb as always. Indeed, much of what you said was what I was thinking but I fumbled in the illustration. So I have touched it up — under your guidance. Hope that does it.

    @ Alice:
    Thanx. David’s writings (see his blogs) are fantastic.
    I did change the drawing, but couldn’t decide what to put in the cloud:
    not as foolish as before
    foolish but learning
    still can be fooled
    easily fooled but trying to learn

    and many more — each has its short comings.
    What do you and David think?

  4. Earnest

    Sabio, I wish us both well on our pending journies. Hope to f2f with you in the future if The Fates permit.

    In the industry we both work in, we can be fooled when trying to figure out what is wrong with our clients. It is tempting, but dangerous, to claim either of the bottom 2 choices. But our customers voice dislike if we declare “I am a fool” regarding their perceived issue.

    So I find “I am a fool” more and more often is my actuality. At the same time I try to spin the interaction towards an impression of firm knowledge of the truth, with varying degrees of success.

  5. I agree, Earnest and will miss you, my friend.

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