January 8, 2010

Intelligence & Wisdom (& Stupidity)

Note: This entry is designed to gather into one place the aphorisms in which Gómez Dávila mentions intelligence, wisdom, and stupidity.

Nothing tends to be more difficult than not pretending to understand. (#7)

If we do not analyze, we will not understand.
But let us not presume that we have understood just because we have analyzed. (#1,222)

Classifying is the first step toward understanding; persisting in classifying is the first step toward confusion. (#2,223)

In order to act, an operational notion of the object is required; but a poetic notion is required in order to understand. (#1,706)

The line between intelligence and stupidity is a shifting line. (#2,815)

To understand is finally to make fact after fact coincide with our own mystery. (#2,410)

In a fiery intelligence the materials are not fused in a new alloy; they are integrated into a new element. (#2,481)

To think against is more difficult than to act against. (#2,212)

Everything is trivial if the universe is not committed to a metaphysical adventure. (#49)

There are a thousand truths; error is one. (#11)

Refusing to admire is the mark of the beast. (#37)

Those who lament the narrowness of the environment in which they live long for events, neighbors, landscapes to give them the sensibility and intelligence which nature denied them. (#4)

Ideas tyrannize the man who has but few. (#655)

Someone who lacks vocabulary to analyze his ideas christens them intuitions. (#1,406)

The invention is invented once for all times.
The idea must be reinvented each time. (#2,385)

Men change ideas less than ideas change disguise.
Through the course of the centuries the same voices are in dialogue. (#1)

Imbecility changes the subject in each age so that it is not recognized. (#1,450)

Among ideas only the stupid ones are immortal. (#1,573)

Foolish ideas are immortal.
Each new generation invents them anew. (#930)

History inexorably punishes stupidity, but it does not necessarily reward intelligence. (#1,574)

The curve of man’s knowledge of himself ascends until the 17th century, declines gradually afterwards, in this century it finally plummets. (#2,468)

Stupidities spread at the speed of light. (#2,529)

The key event of this century is the demographic explosion of idiotic ideas. (#1,115)

An abrupt demographic expansion rejuvenates society and makes its stupidities recrudesce. (#1,363)

Demographic pressure makes people brutish. (#2,926)

A limited population produces fewer ordinary intelligences than a numerous population, but it can produce an equal or greater number of talents.
Great demographic densities are the breeding grounds of mediocrity. (#1,954)

Posterity is not the whole of future generations.
It is a small group of men with taste, a proper upbringing, and erudition, in each generation. (#1,313)

An intelligent touch can make the austerity imposed by poverty culminate in the perfection of taste. (#2,778)

Intelligence is the only art that can survive in any historical climate. (#2,372)

In spiritually arid centuries, the only man to realize that the century is dying from thirst is the man who still harnesses an underground spring. (#2,792)

Phrases are pebbles that the writer tosses into the reader’s soul.
The diameter of the concentric waves they displace depends on the dimensions of the pond. (#43)

Genius is the capacity to make on our stiff, frozen imagination the impact that any book makes on a child’s imagination. (#44)

To be stupid is to believe that it is possible to take a photograph of the place about which a poet sang. (#1,926)

The ability to consume pornography is the distinctive characteristic of the imbecile. (#2,396)

Depravity always arouses the secret admiration of the imbecile. (#2,482)

When we say that words transfigure, the fool mistakenly thinks that they adulterate. (#1,875)

The philosopher is not the spokesman of his age, but an angel imprisoned in time. (#45)

To be right is just one more reason not to achieve any success. (#46)

An intelligent idea produces sensual pleasure. (#68)

The organ of pleasure is the intelligence. (#1,146)

It is impossible to convince the fool that there are pleasures superior to those we share with the rest of the animals. (#2,161)

Each new truth we learn teaches us to read a different way. (#514)

Fools worry about nothing but spelling and forget syntax. (#1,201)

The imbecile is betrayed less by what he says than by his diction. (#2,695)

The “common reader” is as rare as common sense. (#2,524)

A book does not educate someone who reads it to become educated. (#69)

The pleasant book does not attract the fool unless a pedantic interpretation vouches for it. (#1,820)

Contemporaries respect tedious books when they are pretentious and pedantic.
Posterity laughs at those crumbling idols, in order to venerate, of course, the analogous sham saints of their time. (#742)

Nobody scorns yesterday’s foolishness as much as today’s fool does. (#774)

Serious books do not instruct, but rather demand explanations. ($506)

Books are not tools of perfection but barricades against boredom. (#190)

To live with lucidity a simple, quiet, discreet life among intelligent books, loving a few beings. (#497)

For moving situations only clichés will do.
A stupid song expresses great pain better than a noble verse.
Intelligence is an activity of impassible beings. (#71)

The two wings of intelligence are erudition and love. (#1,460)

Wisdom consists in being moderate not out of horror of excess, but out of love for the limit. (#72)

Truth is the happiness of intelligence. (#74)

To demand that the intelligence abstain from judging mutilates its faculty of understanding.
It is in the value judgment that understanding culminates. (#1,692)

Everything that makes man feel that mystery envelops him makes him more intelligent. (#1,004)

An “explanation” consists in the end in assimilating a strange mystery to a familiar mystery. (#2,693)

Explanation implies, comprehension unfolds.
Explanation impoverishes, by identifying terms; comprehension enriches, by diversifying them. (#1,823)

Contemplated in light of our sorrow or our happiness, of our enthusiasm or our disdain, the world displays a texture so subtle, an essence so fine, that every intellectual vision, compared to that vision of the sentiments, barely seems like clever vulgarity. (#636)

Authentic intelligence spontaneously sees even the most humble fact of daily life in the light of the most general idea. (#791)

Our meditation should not consist of a theme proposed to our intelligence, but of an intellectual murmur accompanying our life. (#2,874)

Neither improvisation by itself, nor meditation by itself, achieves anything important.
In reality, the only thing of value is the spontaneous fruit of forgotten meditations. (#2,880)

The intelligent generalization should bear the decipherable imprint of the particular fact that gives rise to it. (#2,147)

Whoever does not simultaneously play upon the board of maximum generality and the board of maximum particularity knows nothing of the game of ideas. (#2,085)

To change thoughts repeatedly is not to evolve. To evolve is to develop the infinitude of the same thought. (#2,471)

Only he lives his life who observes it, thinks it, and says it; the rest let life live them. (#81)

“Life” (in emphatic quotation marks) is the consolation of those who do not know how to think. (#2,204)

“Escapism” is the imbecile’s favorite accusation to make. (#2,890)

A fool is someone who has opinions about the clichés of the day. (#1,381)

The experience of a man who “has lived a long life” can usually be reduced to a few trivial anecdotes with which he decorates an incurable stupidity. (#1,052)

Whoever takes pride in “having lived through a lot” should keep quiet so as not to prove to us that he has understood nothing. (#2,172)

Human stupidity is so monotonous that not even a long experience adds to our collection of stupidities. (#2,424)

The only certain patrimony after a few years is the load of stupidities that chance prevented us from committing. (#2,469)

The years do not deplume us of illusions but of stupidities. (#2,515)

Without economic concerns the fool dies from boredom. (#1,986)

The look of any intelligent man makes any dignitary stumble. (#1,779)

No one is important for a long time without becoming a fool. (#1,783)

Life is an instrument of intelligence. (#339)

It is by means of intelligence that grace saves us from the worst disgraces. (#2,490)

When we understand what those who seemed to understand [really] understood, we are dumbfounded. (#2,029)

When we sail in oceans of stupidity, intelligence requires the aid of good taste. (#1,099)

Without an alert imagination intelligence runs aground. (#1,639)

Although we may have to yield to the torrent of collective stupidities dragging us along in its current, let us not allow ourselves to be dissolved in its mud. (#1,528)

A man is wise if he has no ambition for anything but lives as if he had an ambition for everything. (#635)

When the race of egoists absorbed in perfecting themselves dies out, nobody will be left to remind us that we have the duty to save our intelligence, even after we have lost all hope of saving our skin. (#800)

An intelligent man is one who maintains his intelligence at a temperature independent of his environment’s temperature. (#326)

To induce us to adopt them, stupid ideas adduce the immense public that shares them. (#1,880)

The distances between nations, social classes, cultures, and races, are a little thing.
The fault line runs between the plebeian mind and the patrician mind. (#1,766)

The crowd calls no actions intelligent except actions of the intellect in the service of instinct. (#590)

Man at times despairs with dignity, but it is rare for him to hope with intelligence. (#579)

The fool loses his hopes, never his illusions. (#2,374)

Man’s moment of greatest lucidity is when he doubts his doubt. (#2,236)

Our maturity must re-conquer its lucidity daily. (#83)

There is no spiritual victory which need not be won anew each day. (#347)

Layers of imbecility deposit themselves in the soul like sediment over the years. (#313)

The soul grows full of weeds unless the intelligence inspects it daily like a diligent gardener. (#2,459)

Let us try, as we grow older, to assume attitudes which our adolescence would have approved and to have ideas which it would not have understood. (#931)

Few ideas do not turn pale before a fixed glare. (#2,661)

Thought tends to be a response to an outrage rather than to a question. (#84)

Fools become indignant only with consequences. (#1,417)

Even the least foolish usually do not know the conditions of what they wish for and the consequences of what they admit. (#2,361)

To punish an idea, the gods condemn it to inspiring enthusiasm in the fool. (#1,408)

Let us not give stupid opinions the pleasure of scandalizing us. (#2,597)

The ironist mistrusts what he says without believing that the opposite is true. (#85)

A man is wise not so much because he says the truth but because he who knows the exact scope of what he says.
Because he does not believe he is saying anything more than what he is saying. (#652)

Wisdom consists in resigning oneself to the only thing possible without proclaiming it the only thing necessary. (#88)

Sometimes only humiliations leave ajar for humanity the gates of wisdom. (#2,535)

Resignation to error is the beginning of wisdom. (#351)

Life is a daily struggle against one’s own stupidity. (#2,684)

The first step of wisdom is to admit, with good humor, that our ideas have no reason to interest anybody. (#427)

When we accept our mediocrity with good humor, the disinterestedness with which we take joy in another’s intelligence almost makes us intelligent. (#1,355)

The quality of an intelligence depends less on what it understands than on what makes it smile. (#1,806)

Authentic intellectual seriousness does not frown, but rather smiles. (#1,471)

The serious man is just as idiotic as intelligence that is not serious. (#93)

To think that only important things matter is the menace of barbarism. (#191)

The arguments with which we justify our conduct are often dumber than our actual conduct.
It is more tolerable to watch men live than to hear them spout their opinions. (#96)

Ideologies were invented so that men who do not think can give their opinions. (#1,219)

The majority of men have no right to give their opinion, but only to listen. (#627)

After the intelligent opinions have been excluded from the opinions of an age, what is left over is “public opinion.” (#1,495)

To speak of a people’s “political maturity” is characteristic of immature intelligences. (#2,246)

As long as he is not so imprudent as to write, many a political man passes for intelligent. (#2,255)

Political activity ceases to tempt the intelligent writer, when he finally understands that there is no intelligent text that will succeed in ousting even a small-town mayor. (#2,812)

Ideologies are fictitious nautical charts, but on them, in the end, depends against which reefs one is shipwrecked.
If interests move us, stupidities guide us. (#1,927)

Modern man will never admit that a stupid idea shared by many is not respectable but merely dreadful. (#1,270)

The public is not convinced except by the conclusions of syllogisms of whose premises they are ignorant. (#1,786)

Anybody has the right to be stupid, but not to demand that we revere his stupidity. (#820)

There is no fool’s opinion that is not worth hearing, but also none that is worth respecting. (#1,200)

In the modern world the number of theories is increasing that are not worth the trouble to refute except with a shrug of the shoulders. (#2,838)

So that one does not live depressed among so many foolish opinions, it behooves one to remember at every moment that things obviously are what they are, no matter what the world’s opinion is. (#2,859)

There are no ideas that expand the intelligence, but there are ideas that shrink it. (#1,862)

The practical man wrinkles a perplexed brow when he hears intelligent ideas, trying to figure out whether he is hearing nonsense or insolence. (#1,785)

To maintain that “all ideas are respectable” is nothing but pompous nonsense.
Nevertheless, there is no opinion that the support of a sufficient number of imbeciles does not oblige one to put up with.
Let us not disguise our impotence as tolerance. (#1,042)

Cynicism is not a measure of astuteness but of impotence. (#1,437)

The great man’s errors are so painful for us because they give a fool the chance to correct them. (#1,558)

Stupidity is the angel that expels man from his momentary paradises. (#99)

An age is civilized if it does not reserve intelligence for professional work. (#1,166)

Modern education delivers intact minds to propaganda. (#538)

Formal instruction does not cure foolishness; it arms it. (#2,020)

Nothing is more superficial than intelligences that comprehend everything. (#1,603)

So long as we do not come across educated fools, education seems important. (#501)

There is an illiteracy of the soul which no diploma cures. (#1,570)

To educate man is to impede the “free expression of his personality.” (#104)

The idea of “the free development of personality” seems admirable as long as one does not meet an individual whose personality has developed freely. (#436)

My truth is the sum of what I am, not a simple summary of what I think. (#565)

From the slums of life one returns not wiser, but dirtier. (#1,937)

To think like our contemporaries is the prescription for prosperity and for stupidity. (#102)

A man is intelligent only if he is not afraid to agree with fools. (#663)

The fool does not concede superiority except to one who exhibits idiotic refinements. (#2,444)

Whoever is curious about how to measure his stupidity should count the number of things that seem obvious to him. (#562)

What disconcerts us momentarily cures our stupidity. (#2,099)

The fool is disturbed not when they tell him that his ideas are false, but when they suggest that they have gone out of style. (#274)

The fool does not renounce an error unless it goes out of fashion. (#2,097)

The public does not begin to welcome an idea except when intelligent contemporaries begin to abandon it.
No light reaches the masses but that of dead stars. (#2,452)

Great stupidities do not come from the people.
First, they have seduced intelligent men. (#2,485)

We need people to contradict us in order to refine our ideas. (#106)

Nobody knows exactly what he wants as long as his adversary does not explain it to him. (#291)

In order to understand another’s idea it is necessary to think it as one’s own. (#522)

Intelligence consists not in handling intelligent ideas, but in handling any idea intelligently. (#850)

From the sum of all points of view does not emerge the object in relief, but confusion. (#539)

A confused idea attracts a fool like a flame attracts an insect. (#1,596)

Only the imbecile never feels like he is fighting on his enemies’ side. (#596)

Even the greatest fool experiences nights during which his defenses against the truth waver. (#2,098)

Making us feel intelligent is how nature notifies us that we are saying something stupid. (#1,551)

Without a certain religious childishness, a certain intellectual profundity is unattainable. (#1,414)

Wisdom comes down to not showing God how things should be done. (#108)

Wisdom comes down to never forgetting either the nothingness that man is, or the beauty that is at times born in his hands. (#1,003)

Prolixity is not an excess of words but a dearth of ideas. (#111)

The prejudices of other ages are incomprehensible to us when our own blind us. (#115)

Understanding tends to consist of falsifying what is apparently understood, by reducing it to terms that are supposedly intelligible because they agree with our prejudices at the moment. (#2,093)

The fool calls conclusions he does not understand “prejudices.” (#1,646)

The only intelligence without prejudices is one that knows which it has. (#683)

A man does not become stultified by his prejudices unless he believes they are conclusions. (#2,760)

Nothing is more unforgivable than voluntarily imprisoning ourselves in another’s convictions, when we should be trying to break through even the bars in the dungeon of our own intelligence. (#1,435)

To be young is to fear being thought stupid; to mature is to fear being stupid. (#116)

“Reconciling man to himself”—the most accurate definition of stupidity. (#1,661)

The distance between interlocutors of different generations is proportional to the stupidity of each interlocutor. (#1,540)

He who understands least is he who he stubbornly insists on understanding more than can be understood. (#118)

Thinking does not prepare one to live, nor does living prepare one to think. (#120)

Refusing to consider what disgusts us is the most serious limitation threatening us. (#126)

The idea of another only interests the fool when it touches on his own personal tribulations. (#129)

Great intellectual tasks are not accomplished by one who deliberately undertakes them, but by one who modestly seeks to resolve personal problems. (#1,287)

We usually share with our predecessors more opinions than ways of reaching them. (#2,561)

It is in the spontaneity of what I feel where I search for the coherence of what I think. (#1,453)

A truthful, upright intellectual life grabs out of our hands arts, letters, sciences, in order to prepare us to confront fate alone. (#134)

Upon each person depends whether his soul, deprived of its many pretensions by the years, is revealed as bitter spite or as humble resignation. (#549)

Happiness is the prickly flower of intelligent resignation. (#1,517)

Every intelligence reaches a point where it believes it is walking without advancing a step. (#2,562)

Nothing is more dangerous than to solve ephemeral problems with permanent solutions. (#136)

The “solutions” that puff contemporaries up with pride seem within a few years inconceivably stupid. (#1,601)

Man unleashes catastrophes when he insists on making coherent the contradictory evidences among which he lives. (#540)

“Solutions” are the ideologies of stupidity. (#954)

As a new problem is born out of a problem solved, wisdom consists not in solving problems but in taming them. (#581)

Intelligence consists not in finding solutions, but in not losing sight of the problems. (#1,043)

Intelligence hastens to solve problems which life has not even raised yet.
Wisdom is the art of stopping it. (#552)

Philosophy is the art of lucidly formulating problems.
Inventing solutions is not an occupation of serious intellects. (#878)

The fool exclaims that we are denying the problem when we show the falsity of his favorite solution. (#1,809)

In every age a minority lives today’s problems and a majority yesterday’s. (#537)

What was true yesterday is not always error today, as fools believe.
But what is true today can be error tomorrow, as fools forget. (#1,604)

A certain intellectual courtesy makes us prefer the ambiguous word. The univocal term subjects the universe to its arbitrary rigidity. (#138)

The authentic problem demands not that we solve it but that we try to live it. (#145)

Catholicism does not solve all problems but it is the only doctrine that raises them all. (#385)

Those who are partially wrong irritate us; those who are totally wrong amuse us. (#151)

Because he does not understand the objection that refutes him, the fool believes he has been proved right. (#193)

One usually does not reach conclusions except by ignoring objections. (#2,701)

Between intelligent adversaries there exists a secret sympathy, since we all owe our intelligence and our virtues to the virtues and intelligence of our enemy. (#152)

The most presumptuous wisdom stands ashamed before the soul drunk with love or hatred. (#172)

Triviality is the price of communication. (#187)

Wisdom, in this century, consists above all in knowing how to put up with vulgarity without becoming upset. (#332)

Intelligence, in certain ages, must dedicate itself merely to restoring definitions. (#1,676)

Intellectual combat is won not by throwing up barricades, but by courteously leaving the field open, so that the adversary’s stupidities only break each other's noses. (#1,131)

Intellectual boorishness is the defect that we least know how to avoid in this century. (#2,766)

Antipathy and sympathy are the primordial attitudes of intelligence. (#188)

Intelligence is guided not so much by ratiocination as by sympathies and aversions. (#551)

I trust less in the arguments of reason than in the antipathies of intelligence. (#1,597)

Even when it cannot be an act of reason, an option should be an act of the intelligence.
There are no compellingly demonstrable options, but there are stupid options. (#2,656)

What arouses our antipathy is always a lack of something. (#194)

To disagree is to assume a risk no one should assume but the mature and cautious conscience.
Sincerity protects against neither error nor foolishness. (#205)

Sincerity soon becomes an excuse for saying stupid things. (#1,957)

Once I believe I have mastered a truth, the argument which interests me is not the one which confirms it but the one which refutes it. (#693)

Intelligence should battle without respite against the sclerosis of its findings. (#2,076)

The senile sclerosis of intelligence does not consist in the inability to change ideas, but in the inability to change the level at which we have them. (#2,349)

Men disagree less because they think differently than because they do not think. (#632)

Nothing obliges the man who only meditates to debate every fool who argues. (#1,629)

Whoever insists on refuting idiotic arguments ends up doing so with stupid reasons. (#2,710)

Intelligent discussion should be limited to clarifying differences. (#490)

The intelligent man tends to fail because he does not dare to believe in the true extent of human stupidity. (#1,059)

The fool is scandalized and laughs when he notices that philosophers contradict each other.
It is difficult to make the fool understand that philosophy is precisely that: the art of contradicting each other without canceling each other out. (#588)

Compassion agrees, at times, to solutions which a certain intellectual sense of honor obliges it to reject. (#209)

There is something unforgivably vile in sacrificing even the most foolish of principles to the most noble of passions. (#236)

The professorial tone is not characteristic of one who knows, but of one who doubts. (#227)

We do not know anything perfectly except what we do not feel capable of teaching. (#2,930)

In finding out what an intelligent man said, it is customary only to listen to the fool who mimics him. (#676)

No thesis is expounded with clarity except when it manages to be expounded by an intelligent man who does not share it. (#2,940)

A valiant and daring thought is one that does not avoid the commonplace. (#2,632)

Tired of sliding down the comfortable slope of daring opinions, intelligence finally settles in the rocky terrain of commonplaces. (#235)

Nothing happens more frequently than that we feel we possess several ideas, because we only seize upon inadequate expressions of the same one. (#932)

When a commonplace impresses us, we believe we have an idea of our own. (#690)

Intelligence is strengthened by the eternal commonplaces. And it is weakened by those of its time and place. (#822)

One must appreciate commonplaces and despise fashionable places. (#2,560)

Once the intoxication of youth is over, only commonplaces appear to us to deserve careful examination. (#2,819)

Solitude is the laboratory where commonplaces are verified. (#325)

It is in reiterating the old commonplaces that the work of civilization, strictly speaking, consists. (#2,584)

The commonplaces of the Western tradition are the guidelines that do not deceive in the social sciences. (#2,715)

The traditional commonplace scandalizes modern man.
The most subversive book in our time would be a compendium of old proverbs. (#404)

I have no pretensions to originality: the commonplace, if it is old, will do for me. (#2,692)

In silent solitude only the soul capable of conquering in the most public disputes bears fruit.
The weakling begs for commotion. (#488)

Intelligence isolates; stupidity brings together. (#2,395)

An outlandish idea becomes ridiculous when several people share it.
Either one walks with everybody, or one walks alone.
One should never walk in a group. (#2,569)

Not intelligence but vanity reproaches “intellectual isolation.” (#1,511)

Dialogue does not consist of intelligences discussing with each other but of vanities confronting each other. (#2,057)

Dialogue with the imbecile poses difficulties: we never know where we harm him, when we scandalize him, [or] how we please him. (#2,407)

With somebody for whom certain terms must be defined one must speak of some other topic. (#2,393)

Agreement is eventually possible between intelligent men, because intelligence is a conviction they share. (#2,500)

Prejudices defend against stupid ideas. (#237)

The prejudice of not having prejudices is the most common one of all. (#346)

The modern world obliges us to refute foolish ideas, instead of silencing the fools. (#1,068)

Our denouncing the imbecile does not mean that we wish to get rid of him. We want diversity at any price.
But the charm of variety should not prevent us from judging correctly. (#2,202)

The silent presence of a fool is the catalyst that precipitates in a conversation all the stupidities of which the most intelligent speakers are capable. (#238)

The inferior man is always right in an argument, because the superior man has condescended to argue. (#393)

The calculations of intelligent men tend to fail because they forget the fool, those of fools because they forget the intelligent man. (#617)

I envy those who do not feel that they own only their stupidities. (#240)

The imbecile’s egoism is his neighbors’ safeguard. (#1,161)

Authentic superiority is intolerable for the fool.
Its simulacra, on the other hand, fascinate him. (#2,007)

The price intelligence charges its chosen ones is resignation to daily banality. (#273)

The ritualism of daily conversations mercifully hides from us just how basic the furnishings of the minds among which we live are.
To avoid any shocks, let us prevent our interlocutors from “elevating the debate.” (#1,952)

Truth is what the most intelligent man says.
(But nobody knows who the most intelligent man is.) (#279)

Nobody thinks seriously as long as originality matters to him. (#287)

Whoever believes he is original is just ignorant. (#2,006)

We reactionaries provide idiots the pleasure of feeling like daring avant-garde thinkers. (#2,598)

The most persuasive reason to renounce daring progressive opinions is the inevitability with which sooner or later the fool finally adopts them. (#2,798)

For the fool, obsolete opinion and erroneous opinion are synonymous expressions. (#2,847)

Intelligence is enabled to discover new truths by rediscovering old truths. (#1,777)

When respect for tradition dies out, society, in its incessant desire to renew itself, consumes itself in a frenzy. (#573)

Our spiritual inheritance is so opulent that today an astute fool has only to exploit it in order to seem more intelligent to a slow-witted fool than an intelligent man from yesterday. (#2,019)

Castaways more readily forgive the imprudent pilot who sinks the “ship” than the intelligent passenger who predicts its drift towards the reef. (#801)

The effectiveness of an intelligent action is so uncertain today that it is not worth the trouble to discipline our wildest fantasies. (#1,904)

Intelligent optimism is never faith in progress, but hope in a miracle. (#1,041)

In history it is wise to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans. (#1,787)

Because his carefully calculated expectations failed, the fool believes that the madness of our hopes has been mocked. (#1,718)

Reason, Progress, and Justice are the three theological virtues of the fool. (#1,180)

In every historical situation there always arises somebody to defend in the name of liberty, humanity, or justice, the stupid opinion. (#2,307)

“Historical necessity” is usually just a name for human stupidity. (#2,773)

“To have faith in man” does not reach the level of blasphemy; it is just one more bit of stupidity. (#2,929)

The cost of progress is calculated in fools. (#1,760)

In the end, what does modern man call “Progress”?
Whatever seems convenient to the fool. (#1,901)

Modern stupidities are more irritating than ancient stupidities because their proselytes seek to justify them in the name of reason. (#1,226)

Indoctrinating experts is notoriously easy.
The expert, in effect, attributes to every emphatic dictum the same authority as he attributes to the procedures he follows. (#2,370)

With the categories admitted by the modern mind we do not succeed in understanding anything but trifles. (#1,903)

Stupidity is the fuel of revolutions. (#1,252)

The future tense is the imbecile’s favorite tense. (#638)

Fools believe that humanity only now knows certain important things, when there is nothing important which humanity has not known since the beginning. (#1,112)

It is easier to make a man accept a new truth than to make him abandon the errors it refutes. (#1,689)

Knowing which reforms the world needs is the only unequivocal symptom of stupidity. (#909)

The caprices of his passions perhaps save man from the catastrophe toward which he is launched by the automatisms of his intelligence. (#960)

There is no worse foolishness than the truth in the mouth of a fool. (#312)

The South American intellectual, in order to feed himself, imports junk from the European market. (#340)

It is possible to inculcate in the contemporary bourgeois any stupid idea in the name of progress and to sell him any grotesque object in the name of art. (#1,520)

To discover the fool there is no better reagent than the word “medieval.”
He immediately sees red. (#1,095)

Marxism and psychoanalysis have been the two traps of the modern intelligence. (#2,804)

The subconscious fascinates the modern mentality.
Because there it can establish its favorite stupidities as irrefutable hypotheses. (#626)

For the fool, only those behaviors which conform to the latest fashionable theory in psychology are authentic.
The fool, upon observing himself, always views himself as corroborating experimentally whatever stupidity he presumes to be scientific. (#768)

Because he heard it said that religious propositions are metaphors, the fool thinks they are fictions. (#1,859)

To call himself cultivated, it is not enough for an individual to adorn his specialty with bits and pieces of other specialties.
Culture is not a group of special objects but a subject’s specific attitude. (#484)

It is fine to demand that the imbecile respect arts, letters, philosophy, the sciences, but let him respect them in silence. (#2,895)

When today we hear someone exclaim: “very civilized!” “very humane!”, there can be no doubt: we are dealing with abject stupidity. (#702)

The cultured man does not turn culture into a profession. (#503)

When a society’s intelligence becomes plebeian, literary criticism appears more lucid, albeit cruder. (#1,961)

Contemporary literature, in any period, is the worst enemy of culture.
The reader’s limited time is wasted by reading a thousand mediocre books that blunt his critical sense and impair his literary sensibility. (#512)

There are certain types of ignorance that enrich the mind and certain types of knowledge that impoverish it. (#2,678)

In a century where the media publish endless stupidities, the cultured man is defined not by what he knows but what he does not know. (#556)

The newspaper allots the modern citizen his morning stultification, the radio his afternoon stultification, the television his evening stultification. (#2,261)

The abuse of the printing press is due to the scientific method and the expressionist aesthetic.
To the former because it allows any mediocre person to write a correct and useless monograph, and to the latter because it legitimizes the effusions of any fool. (#1,586)

An extensive card catalog, an imposing library, a serious university, produce today those avalanches of books that contain not one error nor one insight. (#2,421)

One could object to science that it easily falls into the hands of imbeciles, if religion’s case were not just as serious. (#2,516)

Where he is easy to refute, as in the natural sciences, the imbecile can be useful without being dangerous.
Where he is difficult to refute, as in the humanities, the imbecile is dangerous without being useful. (#1,598)

It does not appear that the humanities, in contrast to the natural sciences, reach a state of maturity where anything idiotic is automatically obvious. (#1,936)

Mechanization is stultifying because it makes man believe that he lives in an intelligible universe. (#2,700)

Stupidity appropriates what science invents with diabolical facility. (#2,723)

What ceases to be thought qualitatively so as to be thought quantitatively ceases to be thought significantly. (#2,568)

Whoever appeals to any science in order to justify his basic convictions inspires distrust of his honesty or his intelligence. (#2,160)

It is from a mistaken accentuation that the majority of the errors in our interpretation of the world proceed. (#2,825)

Authentic history is the transfiguration of the raw event by intelligence and imagination. (#1,921)

When the intellectual climate where something occurs is lacking in originality, the occurrence only has interest for those whom it concerns physically. (#2,593)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent! Within so much vague and useless aphorisms this collection deserves high praise. I´m recommending it to my friends. Congratulations. Alex Costa.