Managing with ignorance

The new ideal

Authored by: Allison Stewart

Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415718967
eBook ISBN: 9781315867762
Adobe ISBN: 9781317964674


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The Emperor’s New Clothes is a fable that describes a dystopian realm in which a narcissistic emperor is tricked by a pair of weavers into believing that they are able to weave a beautiful cloth. This cloth also has a practical purpose, in that it is invisible to anyone who is “unfit for his office or unforgivably stupid” (Andersen, 1837 [1983]: 77). Due to the rumour of this startling power, the weavers are able to make the emperor and his ministers believe that they are unfit for their roles, rather than admit that they are unable to see the cloth. After the emperor wears the robe of the invisible cloth in public, the fable ends with a child revealing to all that the emperor is not, in fact, wearing any clothes.

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