Stupidity is generally thought of as a hindrance to learning: an epistemic vice that stands in the way of knowledge and understanding. In this article, I challenge this idea by exploring some of the meanings of stupidity that place it in a positive relation to learning. In this light, the article discusses two notions of stupidity: stupidity as unfinished thought and stupefaction through study. I show how these forms of stupidity, rather than indicating a lack of learning, can be considered as a crucial part of the learning process. These types of desirable stupidity have come under increasing threat in academic cultures that are dominated by performance criteria. On the basis of this analysis, the article argues for the importance of academic practices that make room for these positive forms of stupidity and thereby facilitate what it means to be a student.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 29 July 2023
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