On Thursday, February 8th, the Director of the Institute for Faith and Learning and Clinical Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Baylor Honors College, Dr. Darin Davis, gave a Formation series lecture entitled “Some Fools Never Learn.” This lecture identified and analyzed the various forms of foolery as detailed in the book of Proverbs. A well-attended lecture by Honors College students, the contents of this Formation Series will no doubt be a prominent point of discussion for its insightful reflections on the simple, the silly, the stubborn, the scorning, and the steadfast fool.
Dr. Davis began by discussing how Universities, and their students, should be occupied with seeking wisdom above all else. Such a quest will enhance their futures because, as Dr. Davis puts it, “wise people live with purpose and meaning.” However, this search for wisdom is a difficult endeavor for humans: “Sometimes, instead of spelling wisdom WISDOM, we spell it WISDUMB.” Dr. Davis postulates that it may be more helpful to dig deep into the things which make humans un-wise, or foolish. In his lecture, Dr. Davis allowed students to do this by going through a rigorous analysis of the five forms of foolishness.
Dr. Davis began with simple fools, who lack discernment in their tendency to “open their minds to any passing thought.” Dr. Davis reflected on this sub-type of foolishness by noting that it is often the result of curiosity, which can sometimes be harmful when it is not motivated by or seeking something good. This led to an interesting conversation about how the rise of social media has naturally coincided with the simple fool because there are abundant opportunities for negatively-driven curiosity.
The next classification of foolishness, the silly fool, is one we are all too familiar with. As Dr. Davis put it, “Silly fools are accountable to no one. They hate being corrected. They cannot learn from others. They are unteachable and cannot be helped.” Dr. Davis once again related such behavior to social media. He discussed how for the first time, we are in an age in which it is far too easy to say things to our friends or strangers that we would never say face-to-face. Dr. Davis shared with the students about the dangers in descending to the ways of a silly fool and cautioned the attentive listeners against participating in such base methods of communication.
Dr. Davis went on to discuss the stubborn, the scorning, and finally, the steadfast fool. He offered valuable insight on the arrogant nature of the stubborn fool, the derisive nature of the scorning fool, and the spiritually lost nature of the steadfast fool. Each fool, as highlighted by the book of Proverbs, can be tangibly observed in the real world, and Dr. Davis’ lecture was successful in illuminating their tendencies and tell-tale signs. In the end, students attending this lecture gleaned powerful wisdom from Dr. Davis about what foolishness looks like. He forced listeners to question, “What can we do, as members of a Christian learning community, to keep our eyes on wisdom and avoid the path to foolishness?”
One student in attendance, Gabi Vela, noted how important this question was to ponder as members of a Christian community. She appreciated the fact that “Dr. Davis emphasized how it is easy to believe that we are exempt from falling into foolish ways because we are in a Christian environment and how [we can] actively work against that thought process.” One such suggestion from Dr. Davis was to combat foolishness by embracing the virtue of docility. Dr.Davis emphasizes the importance for Christians—and everyone, for that matter—to practice docility by working to be intentionally teachable.
Ironically appropriate to this Formation Series was the unfortunate, but illustrative “zoom hackers” that disrupted the lecture. While it was a frustrating and unplanned addition, the hackers were fantastic demonstrations of the very states of foolishness Dr. Davis was working to caution against falling into. As a crucial addition to the Baylor Honors College’s Formation Series, this lecture made an impactful statement to students about the importance of wisdom and the willingness to learn. As Dr. Davis puts it, “Some fools never learn, but some fools eventually do, especially when they become willing to receive the gift of wisdom imparted by another.”