VI. A History of Western Stupidity

To the extent that Western Civilization is a distinctly identifiable historical adventure, its origins are discernable in and associated with the rise of ancient Greece. As Greek culture developed and flourished, it became clear to all that an excess of power led to a comparable amount of stupidity. After first presenting his vision of the philosopher-kings in The Republic, Plato had his doubts and concluded that laws were the only safeguard against abuses of power. Too much power concentrated anywhere is simply too dangerous, as it invariably leads to injustice. Arbitrary power was recognized as an inducement to stupidity which in turn undermined the effectiveness of power. Stupidity could thus be seen as a check on excessive power, rendering it counter-productive as it became unjust.

Since we still revere Greek thought and honor Greek ideals, it is worth noting that these ideals were not of physical objects reduced to essence but archetypical models of theoretical ultimates which could not possibly be realized. Philosophers reveled in associating such idealized abstractions but always in static, non-algebraic modes of thought, and in the purest philosophy of mathematics, the Greeks failed to develop any system of symbolic notation to express dynamic functions.

As mathematical idealists, the Pythagoreans, for example, were in love with whole numbers. A veritable crisis in doctrine arose when the square root of two was found to be irrational. This posed a threat to their schema, as it indicated that their mental world was somehow inaccurate, insufficient, incomplete and imperfect. Worse yet, it could not be made accurate, sufficient, complete and perfect by adaptation and/or expansion and still remain "Theirs". So, how did these great Greek mathematical philosophers handle this cognitive crisis? Pretty much as would anyone else: they suppressed knowledge of the square root of two.

Likewise, they suppressed that other scourge of Pythagorean idealism —the dodecahedron. In this, they were so successful that hardly anyone now knows much less cares what a dodecahedron is. Nevertheless, anyone interested in Greek stupidity should note that Pythagoreans knew of five perfect solids—the tetrahedron, the cube, the octahedron, the icosahedron and the dodecahedron. The first four were conveniently associated

stupidity.net