Nietzsche, Einstein and Deleuze agree: the question of stupidity,
its unremitting sway, needs to be dealt with.
This book explores the urgency of stupidity, its hiding places
as well as its everyday public appearances. It maps areas of
thought in which stupidity has been traditionally concealed or
repressed and tunes into stupidity's static in the realms of
literature, philosophy and politics. Neither a moral default nor a
pathology, stupidity has no duty to truth yet nonetheless bears
ethical consequences. At the same time there is something about
stupidity -- what Musil and Deleuze locate as "transcendental
stupidity" -- that is untrackable; it evades our cognitive scanners
and turns up as the uncanny double of mastery or intelligence. A
major phobia in the lexicon of learning, stupidity opens up new
unintelligibilities, as Schlegel might have said -- an unexpected
range of explosive stammers -- marking at times a new beginning,
the philosophical primal scene of stupor.
Stupidity points to what has been historically inappropriable --
the banality and stupidity of evil, as Hannah Arendt says of
On some level stupidity is a "feminine" problem, or has been
evicted from philosophical premises to occupy what is marked as
feminine incertitude. Still, poets such as Holderlin and Rilke
claimed the predicament of stupidity (or sheer idiocy) as
reflecting the true nature of poetic origination. The work studies
the modulation of stupidity into idiocy, puerility, and the figure
of the ridiculous philosopher, instituted by Kant. Investigating
ignorance, dumb-foundedness, and the limits of reason, it probes
the pervasive practice of theory-bashing in supposedly intelligent
socialsectors. A section on prolonged and debilitating illness
pushes the text to an edge of corporeal understanding, "at the
limits of what the body knows and tells."
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