Saturday, October 01, 2005

Ignorant Kin

Already in the 5th century B.C., Democritus of Abdera makes an uncompromising distinction between the wise and the unwise and thereby elevates human thought for its own sake. Those who are wise, he implies, ought to associate only with others who are wise, with no thought for family or people. Since Democritus himself was a very wise man, his words leave us with a sense of uncertainty and discomfort. Who after all would openly avow that he chooses to remain among his kin, when that is to say that he chooses to remain among the ignorant? Democritus, by the way, is not the only one to use this scheme. Christ himself renounces his own family and instructs his followers to do the same. The modern Christian who believes that Christianity is the foundation of family might read his manual more carefully.

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