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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Blush at nothing

For there are two main obstacles to the knowledge of things, modesty that casts a mist before the understanding, and fear that, having fancied a danger, dissuades us from the attempt. But from these folly sufficiently frees us, and few there are that rightly understand of what great advantage it is to blush at nothing and attempt everything.
Desiderius Erasmus - In Praise of Folly (1511)

If one is technically literate, is that socially inferior to being literate? Some people are both, but a significant number are not. Many politicians appear to be neither.

Is this one reason why we are where we are? Do technically-minded people have modesty that casts a mist before the understanding? I think they often do, although it may be fading. We have not given up or even moderated our love of drama, our penchant for mystification, our tendency to emote rather than think, our regard for celebrities who never do anything useful, never say anything worth listening to.

A more widespread technical outlook on life could go some way towards getting rid of the dross, but then much of the colour and the passion would go too. Perhaps it's worth the loss. Perhaps technically-minded people should be more inclined to blush at nothing and attempt everything.

6 comments:

Roger said...

I think the answer is yes, one needs no technical knowledge to run a vast estate, therein lies the root of the British class system. On tap, never on top.

As for casting a mist, technical types soon come across 'the law of natural cussedness', an experience that makes them a bit cautious. Literary types can cast airy nothings with sentences that scan and spellcheck and mean nothing - the results we see every day.

A K Haart said...

Roger - I agree, yet huge numbers of voters must be technically-minded. It ought to give some kind of an advantage to pragmatic people but we rarely see them.

James Higham said...

Ach, it's all sophistry.

A K Haart said...

James - sometimes, sometimes not.

Derek said...

A little aside perhaps, but the quote from Erasmus reminds me of a neat acronym for fear: False Expectations Appearing Real. Works for me.

A K Haart said...

Derek - very good, works for me too. Mind if I use it? With an acknowledgement of course.