The fear that I know, that I know nothing.
“For my part, as I went away, I reasoned with regard to myself: I am wiser than this human being. For probably neither of us knows anything noble and good, but he supposes he knows something when he does not know, while I, just as I do not know, do not even suppose that I do. I am likely to be a little bit wiser than he in this very thing: that whatever I do not know, I do not even suppose I know.” Plato – Apology.
Socrates was famously executed for his pursuit of knowledge. He managed to annoy just about everyone except for his dedicated disciples. Some scholars question his existence, so pick any story that follows the same path: someone wishes to learn more about the world and are punished for it.
One would think that should intelligence be discriminated against, it would be at the lower end of the spectrum. People would be treated unfairly because they lack the knowledge or intelligence to blend in with societies perceptions of normality.
Often I have observed the opposite is also true – more so now in this post-truth age. Experts are side-lined amongst the narcissistic appeal to emotion. Wealth inequality has ensured that it is not about what you know, but who you know. Who you know depends entirely on your sociality.
Intersectional neurodiversity is a nexus that permeates the entire ontological sphere of society. Current equality laws in the UK define nine protected characteristics as:
pregnancy and maternity,
Religion and belief,
Even with all this progress, there are still forms of judgement that are yet to be acknowledged as discriminatory. Unfavourably treatment due to preconceptions of intelligence can be subtle and ambiguous. Mostly due to the fact that people are not forthcoming with prejudice because they succumb to fear.
They say that curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. Humans are not so fortunate to have nine lives. I have this insatiable curiosity that has led to negative treatment from some people I encounter. They perceive my keenness to learn as ill intent.
More now than ever I am tempted to conclude that I have observed a simulationist reaction. When people interpret my actions, they are revealing what they would do if they were in my shoes. The problem with this is that they assume, without knowing anything about my lived experience.
The people most likely to do this, do not bother to get to know anything about me. They ask no questions and choose to selectively overhear snippets of indirect conversations. They assume that because I appear to be knowledgeable, that I think I know more than I do.
The opposite is true. I am painfully aware that I do not know certain things, I worry that some forms of knowledge will be forever inaccessible. Before I discovered philosophy, I kept the extent of my search for wisdom secret. For one reason alone: fear.
The little I did express was met with disdain. When I was a teenager, I was told that I was going to hell because I had an interest in astrology and the arts of divination. The sad part was that I believed it. I was then told by another person that I was brainwashed. So I decided to study hell to see what all the fuss was about.
Most common forms of discrimination are based on fear of difference. We are not only judged by things beyond our control, but by our actions and the consequences of those actions, regardless of intent. Difference is not wrong. No single perspective is right.
It is important to recognise opposing viewpoints – especially when they clash. Science and philosophy have been built up from the testing of opposites. Resistance is natural – but humanity has the potential to move beyond the natural. The ample evidence of our creations is testament to our capability.
This spark that has driven humanity since conception is hindered by fear. We do not get a choice on where or how we are born, what we unconsciously fear or when we are forced to deal with it. Seldom do we chose to be treated with indignity.
Socrates heard that it was proclaimed by the Pythia that he was the wisest in the land. He only sought to determine whether that was true.
All we can choose, and take responsibility for, is our own understanding and wisdom.
Is this ultimately silent confrontation the path of least resistance? The only option left?
I would much rather prefer to avoid hemlock mixtures.
Even if I am a social gadfly –
No harm is meant.