The unknowing fool counts himself as wise since he knows no better. The fool so beloved of Shakespeare was a different order of man, and clever. The unknowing fool is the one who does not know that he does not know.
How should you treat the unknowing fool? Derision, or cruelty and mocking are clearly wrong, however easy it may be to fall into such ways.
The problem is that there are degrees of foolishness; and types of fool. If the fool is “simply simple” he may be a delight to bump into. The harmless village idiot tending the graveyard. A friendly and child like figure, who deserves a smile and a few minutes of happy conversation.
This fool will be a knowing fool; he will know that he is simple and you will readily accept him for that. He is easy to “suffer”. It is a pleasure to do so.
The bumptious fool is far more difficult to deal with. The bumptious and arrogant fool, several degrees worse.
Snobbery of any sort is wrong, morally wrong. The sign of an un-enlightened individual. It is very easy to give up ridiculous class snobbery or money snobbery. Such forms of snobbery are so patently shallow and absurd.
Intellectual snobbery is rather harder to abandon. It is very difficult indeed to suffer an unknowing fool, and even more difficult to suffer a fool who combines ignorance with bumptiousness and arrogance.
And yet suffer him we must, if we are to obey those two most important of dicta: “turn the other cheek”, “treat your neighbour as you would have them treat you”.
I am not a man who suffers unknowing fools gladly and when they are also bumptious and arrogant, my tolerance is stretched to its very limits.
And yet suffer him I must if I want to be true to my ideals. I must back off and show kindness and understanding, not intolerance and exasperation. I must not trample him or cow him with word or thought. Or deed.
St Augustine famously said “Lord make me good, but not just yet”.
I have had enough of being difficult and curmudgeonly. I would very much like to be “good now”, but it is far easier said than done.