Shallow Thoughts about Deep Things
I was cleaning the bathroom the other day and had just flushed the toilet as part of that process and was reaching up to take something from the medicine cabinet when the back of my thumb accidentally tipped over a small bottle of isopropyl alcohol, which fell flipping its merry way down into the toliet bowl before I could snatch it from its fall and disappeared with the flushing water into the pipe as my hand went clutching after it.
There I stooped, fingers fumbling in the cold water of the toilet's throat as if hoping to trigger a gag reflex that would spew the bottle back up.
I felt 'stoopid'.
But was I stupid? Or just careless? Why 'just' careless? Isn't carelessness a result of stupidity? Lack of forethought? Why hadn't I lowered the toilet cover first? Not to do so was stupid of me. Wasn't it?
The philosopher Colin McGinn holds that "stupidity is an objective trait," in which case I had just revealed something objectively true about myself.
Although McGinn assures us that "Stupidity . . . refers especially to the opinions and utterances of people who should know better" -- and I wasn't expressing anything in words -- "actions speak louder than words" (says the aphorism). My actions had just spoken.
McGinn consoles me in conceding that "Maybe we all are stupid sometimes" -- then immediately withdraws that small consolation of philosophy by noting that "some people are stupid a lot of the time." What if I'm one of those people?
But would I be reflecting on all this if I truly were? I wondered . . . and got up from my stooped position.