Greyhound Literary

A Short History of Stupidity

Adult •
Non-Fiction Ideas & Philosophy
Rights sold
  • Polity Press (English/World English)

‘No-one ever thinks they’re stupid. It’s part of the stupidity.’ The Wire, s.2 ep.9

Stupidity. There’s so much of it around nowadays. It often feels like it is killing us softly with its song. But is there really more stupidity than ever before? And what exactly is it? Are we sure we know it when we see it? It’s not quite the same as folly. Or ignorance. Or error. How should we define it? How has it been defined over the centuries? Is it something we learn to be? Is it something we can learn to stop being? Is it an instinct? Is it a defence? Can it be a policy? Can it be a political force? Are we safer being stupid together or alone? Should stupidity be resisted or ignored? Does it change, has it evolved? Stupidity, what is it good for, doh?

All these questions and more Stuart Jeffries asks in what will be a scintillating, serious and only intermittently silly study of a much-derided, much-lampooned, much-remarked, but under-analysed aspect of the human condition that we neglect at our peril. He puts his questions to the likes of Aristotle, Voltaire, Kant, Schopenhauer, Huxley, Adorno, and Kraus, to see how their answers tally up. The arithmetic of stupidity is taxing, but we must master it if we are to avoid failing the test of being human. Let this book be your revision guide.