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Stultitia by Giotto—from his fresco of seven virtues and their opposite vices in the Scrovegni Chapel. Stultitia (folly) was shown as the opposite of Prudentia (prudence).

Foolishness is the unawareness or lack of social norms which causes offence, annoyance, trouble and/or injury. The things such as impulsivity and/or influences may affect a person's ability to make otherwise reasonable decisions. In this sense, it differs from stupidity, which is the lack of intelligence.[1] An act of foolishness is called folly.


Andreas Maercker in 1995 defined foolishness as rigid, dogmatic, and inflexible thinking which makes feelings of bitterness and probable annoyance. It is considered the foundation of illusions of grandiosity like omniscience, omnipotence and inviolability.[citation needed]

The Book of Proverbs characterizes traits of foolishness.[2] Foolishness and wisdom are contrasted in Paul's letter to the Corinthians. He condemns intellectual arrogance and advocates a humble attitude instead of foolishness, in which it is then possible to learn.[3]

Plato transvalued reason over foolishness, to him integrity of acceptance of a state itself was the beginning of wisdom, he said "He is the wisest man who knows himself to be ill-equipped for the study of wisdom".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert J. Sternberg (2003), "Smart People Are Not Stupid, But They Sure Can Be Foolish", Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid, Yale University Press, pp. 232 et seq, ISBN 9780300101706
  2. ^ Eldon Woodcock, [Proverbs: A Topical Study] ISBN 9781579108182
  3. ^ William Barclay (1956), The Letters to the Corinthians, ISBN 9780664237844
  4. ^ Walter Arnold Kaufmann (1978), Critiqe of religion and philosophy, ISBN 0691020019

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