We have enormous faith in our pessimism, our skepticism, our nihilism, but most assuredly, our solipsism. We do wrap ourselves up in ourselves; me into mine. Solipsists we are all of us; in this society ruled by its pop culture, how could we be otherwise? Here above everywhere else, vanity is verity. I am not presenting solipsism herein as a methodological skepticism, but the metaphysical and epistemological solipsisms that carry with them stronger antagonisms to the possibility of knowledge and verification of knowledge.
Aristotle defined a man who had no social or general concerns with the simple term ‘idiot.’ An idiot was therefore someone quite like the fore mentioned solipsist who cannot determine the validity of any knowledge that does not arise like a particle in the vacuum of his mind. For Aristotle, this man, the idiot, was apolitical in the Greek sense, unable to defend democracy as it was understood in the Greek Polis. If he were of the class that ruled or voted then he was a danger; if his class in his polis prevented him from participation, then his was a social nature to be accepted, but not encouraged.
Idio is Greek for ‘self,’ and it is found as a prefix in the words idiosyncrasy and idiolect. An idiot is not someone who is simply mentally defective , or who lacks the expected level of knowledge for his age and class, or who does something otherwise stupid, something that results in some harm to someone. Aristotle’s idiot could be intelligent, educated even, perhaps with authority and influence from his position based on his mental capacity. I have known no greater idiots than some of the educated elite I have worked with in our colleges. But then anyone who is wrapped up inside his own head would also be an idiot. The difference here is many of society’s better educated or brightest would also at one time or rather frequently qualify. Primo Levy, in The Drowned and the Saved, noted this as well, whereby many of society’s assumed betters were more likely to betray in Auschwitz.
Idiocy in this way seems to be one of the more pervasive of all human conditions; it seems just where I expect people to be better because of education or class I find they are the opposite, more likely to lie, to manipulate, to be petty in every way we meant when we used the term petit bourgeois to refer to those class of people who serve themselves by serving no one. The same bureaucrats for Weimar were the identical bureaucrats who served the State under the Nazis. The Czar or the Bolshevik Party; it did not matter. They were not the same kind of people; they were the same persons serving Weimar and then Hitler. Idiocy is pan cultural. It affects all classes, all religions, all ethnicities; it is a condition mutually and reciprocally shared between genders, between adult and child. I am an idiot because I am human?