Discover more from Truthloving
When not to be smart
The perfection of rationality seems to be holiness.
Smart people often intuit this and try to transcend smartness, but can’t find the language for it. Even the Effective Altruism movement is teasing at this by asking “How can we be the most smart about doing the most good?”
The irony is, this question has been addressed by thousands of years of saints and theologians who specialize in the good, rather than in the smart.
Holiness helps us find the point of diminishing returns for smartness — when smartness starts to inhibit our holiness, smartness becomes stupidity.
This implies the best use of smartness is often its restraint. Restraint means intentionally foregoing knowledge, intellectualism, rationality, and all that, except as these serve our holiness — where truth is lived — instead of exploring endlessly where truth is only represented.
Here’s an example from my own life:
I’ve been going down rabbit holes about aliens, UFOs, etc. for a couple of years now.
More recently, I’ve been discovering Catholicism. If I understand correctly, Catholicism holds there are 2 kinds of spiritual beings: angels and demons. No ghosts, aliens, or transdimensional whatsits.
Now, evidence suggests there actually are all those other things — but when it comes to seeking holiness, this entirely doesn’t matter. Humans are not equipped to know everything, and we don’t need to. Humans are equipped to become holy, and the Catholic Church believes the only knowledge on this topic necessary for that, is “there are 2 kinds of spiritual beings — angels and demons.” Therein lies the whole of wisdom needed on this topic for holiness. More knowledge on this topic only distracts from the cultivation of holiness. Its costs exceed its benefits.
Catholicism has been showing me lately what it doesn’t matter to know.
After all — If you’re so smart, why do you need to know everything?
The answer is, we don’t. The smart use of smartness seems to involve restraint; tactically-deployed smartness. Not smearing our smartness across every exposed intellectual surface in the universe.