In the near past, I've read about the work of Tversky and Kahneman, the text said that they presented their work to a famous American philosopher (without mentioning names) and he said that he wasn't interested in a philosophy of stupidness. From what I know, Kahneman and Tversky wrote about biases, not specifically stupidness. So, is there someone else who wrote some philosophy of stupidness?

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    There's an excellent text on stupidity by Avital Ronell; but note ignorance and illumination is a theme taken up in a lot of philosophy...
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 4:44
  • but do not ignorance is not stupidity even if there a not insignificant overlap Commented May 5, 2013 at 5:23
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    The Dilbert Principle almost is..... Commented May 6, 2013 at 21:14
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    Pardon my stupidity, but is philosophy of stupidness a formally defined subject, or are we just counting anything that philosophically discusses the stupidity of people?
    – commando
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 3:05
  • There are plenty of modern philosophers who take K and T seriously. Does that count?
    – Lucas
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 9:49

8 Answers 8


There is a nice little book by Erasmus of Rotterdam called In Praise of Folly. It discusses several forms of stupidity and their different "uses"... I don't know whether this counts as philosophy, though.


Carlo M. Cipolla wrote about stupidity from the point of view of the benefits or losses that an individual causes to him or herself and to others, in his book The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.


Matthijs van Boxsel wrote an encycopledia of stupidness 'Morosofie' (Morosophy) and an introduction to stupidity, both currently only in Dutch as far as I known.

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    Morosofie seems to be part II (of three) of De Encyclopedie van de Domheid. Perhaps The Encyclopedia of Stupidity (English, French, Finnish, Turkish) is part I only?
    – user3164
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 10:26
  • @Gugg Judging from the number of pages, probably yes. Note the the encyclopedia seems to give examples rather than propose a philosophy of stupidity.
    – jeroenk
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 10:41

I always thought "philosophy of stupidity" was a reference to "The Dog", the greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes_of_Sinope


Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's cradle is intended as a story of human stupidity. To quote:

If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.


I will attempt to create a philosophy of stupidness here in this post.

Let us start from a simple question - is there stupidity? From billions of good and not so good answers we arrive at the conclusion that stupidity DOES exist.

Second, let us continue with the question - is there NO stupidity? From billions of good and not so good answers we arrive at the conclusion that stupidity does NOT exist.

On this solid ground i base my philosophy of stupidity.

Stupidity is a fundamental ingredient of the universe which both exist and does not exist.

Stupidity is very closely linked to the question of existence of others.

When others do not exist they become stupid, because only existence brings light. On the other hand when others start to exist they can not be stupid, because only existence brings light.

Same fundamental method applies to God. If he exists he can not be stupid. On the other hand if God does not exist then he is stupid because he could not achieve existence.

After that brilliant discoveries i also see dual connection between stupidity and existence. When existence is there stupidity is not, and when stupidity is there existence is not.

Right from here it becomes clear that sleep is stupid because it deprives us from existence.

Furthermore my philosophy of stupidness offers a correct interpretation of classical philosophers. For example famous Descartes - "Cogito ergo sum" really means - "I exist therefor i am not stupid"

My philosophy of stupidity is so fundamental (stupid, as a dual counterpart to existence) that it even applies to itself.

When others reject my philosophy it proves how correct it is, on the other hand when others accept it it deprives it from the object of study.

Stupidity is so fundamental that i had to base my philosophy of it on it itself . That is why it is clearly visible that in some parts of the text author is there and in others we lost him.

  • Why? Second, let us continue with the question - is there NO stupidity? From billions of good and not so good answers we arrive at the conclusion that stupidity does NOT exist.? Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 10:44
  • What.The.F---. You are trying to hard.
    – user2683
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 16:12

Old question, one which has been more or less answered. But what about the ship of fools?


An allegory from Plato's republic, designed to show the usefulness of his form of governance. Quite famously

Relying on M. Foucault's (1967) work, Madness and Civilization, many contemporary writers of abnormal psychology textbooks report the existence of ships of fools as a common medieval method for the segregation of the mentally ill. It is argued here that these reports often contain embellishments not provided in Foucault's account. A search for documentary evidence of such ships failed to find any. It appears that the only existence such vessels ever had was in the form of Lenten processional floats and as literary vehicles for moral allegories

Which is humorous.

Apparently they existed as nautical leper colonies.

You'd expect philosophy and philosophers to have a lot to do with fools (as an antonym of wisdom); philosophers often seem reluctant to make foolish people seem foolish, perhaps due to exasperation

Plato’s argument against hedonism, and a new, unified, account of his argument that there are ‘false pleasures’. It reads Plato’s argument as cumulative, involving different but related senses of ‘false’, one that appeals in the end to the foolishness of certain pleasures, which foolishness the subject cannot himself appreciate while he is in their grip... [however] the die-hard hedonist is more easily brought to worry that he is a fool than that he is a knave.


if stupidness means the lack of wisdom, then the whole idea of philosophy is that human are stupid. note that philosophy is the love of wisdom, not the wisdom itself. we can only pursue wisdom, but can never really or finally achieve it. that's what Socrates meant by saying: only god has wisdom and every person is unwise.

to understand this is to understand the very core of philosophy, that is, the essence of reason. reason is to do one thing and one thing only: reflect.

whatever you have or have achieved, you have to reflect it.

once you have stopped reflecting, you are doomed. it means death.

like here in china, there is only one truth, one doctrine, unquestionable, unshakable. and it proves to be a dead society.

dear friends from the west, dive into the classics of your great ancestors, like Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, etc. they as a whole are the only beacon light that whole human race has amid the dark cloud of uncertain fate.

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    Actually not. If you read your answer again, you'll notice that it's filled with ghostly claims. Ex:. but can never really or finally achieve it. - How are you so certain about this?
    – Red Banana
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 13:17
  • Also, you can't fall in the popular conception of what philosophy is, most people I find think that philosophy is making vague-random talk about stuff, according to them, thinking on ways of eating bananas and apples in a train is considered philosophy. Specially if it's long and involves lot of unusual words.
    – Red Banana
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 13:20
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    First: "Anyone who wishes to advocate philosophy is stupid." Then what are you doing in your last paragraph? Second: I agree with the general meaning of your answer, but that does not change fact that it does not answer the original question: "Is there a philosophy of stupidness?" All you've conveyed is that in a half-practical half-symbolic way, we're all stupid. There's nothing very philosophical about the stupidity itself in your answer. That we can never fully achieve wisdom is more of an intuitive claim (shared by myself), not some philosophical argument, and so not really useful.
    – commando
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 17:13

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