Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

On "Fools"

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

On "Fools"

Article excerpt

IN OUR RELATION to the past there are three wide-open ways in which one may be a fool.

One of the ways is the way of ignoring the past--the way of remaining blankly ignorant of the human past as the animals are blankly ignorant of their past and so of drifting through life as animals do, without reference to the experience of bygone generations. Fools of this type may be called drifting fools or Drifters.

Another way to be a fool--a very alluring way--is that of falsifying the past by idealizing it--by stupidly disregarding its vices, misery, ignorance, slothfulness, and folly, and stupidly magnifying its virtues, happiness, knowledge, achievements and wisdom; it is the way of the self-complacent--the way of those who, being comfortably situated and prosperous, are opposed to change; the past, they say, was wise for it produced the present and the present is good--let us alone. Fools of this type may be called idolatrous fools, worshiping the Past; or static fools, contented with the Present; or cowardly fools, opposed to change, fearful of the Future.

A third way to be a fool--which is also alluring--is the opposite of the foregoing; it is the way of those who falsify the past by stupidly and contemptuously disregarding its virtues, its happiness, its knowledge, its great achievements, and its wisdom, and by stupidly or dishonestly magnifying its vices, its misery, its ignorance, its great slothfulness, and its folly; it is apt to be the way of the woeful, the unprosperous, the desperate--especially the way of such as find escape from the bore of routine life in the excitements of unrest, turbulence, and change; the past, they say, was all wrong, for it produced the present and the present it thoroughly bad--let us destroy it, root and branch. …

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