Foolish-wise
by Erasmus

Folly is saying that those of her faction who reject the name of fools and pretend to be wise are not only 'complete fools' in fact, but are wise to be so. They ought therefore really to be called hybrid wise-fools. The 'complete fools' or morotatoi who pretend to be wise are also the subject of commentary in the Adages and the word is used by More in Utopia. They are, however, also morosophers, which means at the same time both wise and foolish. Lucian uses the term of the wise who pretend to be foolish (Alexander, 40) and Rabelais uses it of Triboullet (Tiers Livre, chapter 46). Erasmus is playing ironically with the wisdom in Folly's eyes of being foolish. Just possibly, he is also hinting openly at the possibility that Folly and her friends are not so foolish as they pretend to be. At any rate, the purely burlesque pose drops for a minute to reveal the potential seriousness of what Folly will go on to say. The complex thought of Erasmus suggests that, while the followers of Folly pretend to be wise, they have the wisdom to be foolish. At the end of her declamation Folly links this idea with the Pauline folly of the Cross. It should also be related to Erasmus's own exploitation of the Silenus figure.

Note to My Birth And Education which is Part 1 of Folly Speaks from "The Praise Of Folly"

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