OrnaVerum
v 5.10.00
6 Oct 2018
updated 1 Apr 2020
classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/richet_charles/homme_stupide/homme_stupide_prologue.html

I'm immensely grateful to my learned cousin Jacobus Magnus for sprucing up and invigorating my robotic rendering into English.

Prologue

Linnaeus, endeavouring to classify correctly the diverse living types that inhabit our planet, called mankind, who evidently constitute a species of animal distinct from all the others: Homo Sapiens, Intelligent Man.

But any such tribute is manifestly unjustified. Because mankind accumulates such numerous examples of extraordinary stupidity that it would be necessary, to conform with the reality of things, to name him totally differently, and to say Homo Stultus, Stupid Man.

If and when we agree to employ a serious zoological classification, we shall have to adopt this term.

In this brief composition, we shall establish, or at least attempt to show, that man is inferior to most species of animals for common sense and wisdom. It even seems to me that we shall be justified in qualifying him as Homo Stultissimus, Stupidest Man.

However, in the interest of restraint, we shall content ourselves with giving you, without exaggeration, the label that he deserves: Homo Stultus, Stupid Man, and we shall provide the proofs of his almost boundless and incurable stupidity.

The author is under no illusion as to the reaction to this examination of conscience which will upset and offend intellectuals and common people alike, and which will leave everyone feeling hurt.

Yes, of this we can be certain!

So, reader, whether you be an intellectual, or an artisan, this book is going to disturb, if only for a moment, the good opinion that you have of yourself. It will undermine this visceral belief that you are wise, prudent, reasonable. It isn't pleasant to be told that one is stupid, and it is even more disagreeable to have it demonstrated.

But it's inappropriate to present us, in the style of Watteau and Florian, as operatic shepherds. The peasants of de La Bruyère don't have beribboned crooks, and I suggest, with the old master, that all truths should be told, however bitter and discouraging they may be.