Sunday, March 7, 2021

Familiarity Breeds Contempt and Ignorance

“What is familiarly known is not properly known, just for the reason that it is familiar,” says Hegel. We can add Hegel’s reasoning to the old proverb “familiarity breeds contempt,” and arrive at the conclusion that the notion of familiarity leads to two pitfalls: contempt and ignorance. When people are psyched into believing that they are familiar with something, they do not try to investigate that thing. Their familiarity becomes the cause of their deficient understanding. What they do not understand, they hold in contempt. Easy access to university education, and to the newspapers, Internet, and cable TV, which offer a simplistic and politically motivated view of culture and history, fills people with the feeling that they are familiar with their nation’s past and present, and its future prospects. But their familiarity is devoid of understanding, and this makes them contemptuous and ignorant of all that their nation stands for.

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