“The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness or true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.”
― Albert Camus, The Plague
I’ve mentioned before that I have long had a love-hate relationship with Albert Camus. Like many, I was forced to read “The Stranger” while is high school – a book I found to be bleak and disturbing, but admittedly, it stuck with me through the years – so it did keep me thinking. Generally regarded as an existentialist by others, he did not see himself as one – although it is hard not to read “The Stranger”, and much of his other writing, as anything but Existentialism.
Born in Algeria in 1913, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature at the young age of 43, died far too young in an automobile accident in 1960 – Camus was a journalist, novelist, playwright, philosopher. Always a pacifist, he’d been many things politically over the years, but always in opposition to tyranny in all forms – yet conflicted over the growing unrest in his native Algeria, where his mother still lived. Long strongly outspoken on tyranny – when in Occupied Paris during WWII, over Stalin’s ever-expanding empire in Easter Europe – he was mostly silent on the situation in Algeria. Understandable given his concerns about his mother, but it garnered him much criticism.
This particular quote seems appropriate to me in our current political climate.
And for some reason that brought to mind, this quote from Charles Darwin:
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
Albert Camus, photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson – borrowed from the Encyclopedia Brittanica.