A Note on Nietzsche’s Sarcasm: Stupid and Honest Mystics versus Dishonest and Foolish Philosophers

Schlemiel Theory

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In the beginning of The Schlemiel as Modern Hero, Ruth Wisse points out that for Rabbi Nachman the Simpleton (that is, the schlemiel) acts “as if” good will triumph over evil.  In his story, “The Clever Man and the Simple Man,” the thinker looks down on the simpleton as an idiot for being so naïve.  The simpleton’s honesty and trust are the object of his ridicule.   In many ways, Rabbi Nachman suggests that the simpleton, like many wise men, is a mystic in disguise.  And for Rabbi Nachman, as well as for many Yiddish writers who followed in his wake, the schlemiel was a character whose simplicity and trust pose a challenge to the skepticism and deceit of a world that laughs at him.  But, in the end, it’s the schlemiel who has the last laugh.

I recently came across an aphorism by Friedrich Nietzsche that contrasts philosophers to…

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