How can history be used to explore the veracity of Goethe’s statement?
History is another area that could be used to explore the veracity of Goethe’s statement. I would like to consider the role of propaganda and indoctrination, as this would seem to substantiate the idea that that the less knowledge we have, the more we can believe in it.
Throughout history, the degree of understanding that humans have on particular topics has undoubtedly changed using the advancement of knowledge. However, instances throughout history reveal that, even when people knew very little of a situation, they acted with confidence – for example, the participation of Germans in the Holocaust. From 1933-1945, Germany was ruled by Hitler and the Deutsches Reich – a regime operating using persecution and fear. Hitler and his Nazi party wanted to ‘improve’ Germany by such practices as eugenics, refining the genetics of the remaining population, and ethnic cleansing. Hitler’s regime concentrated on indoctrinating the country’s young – Nazi ideology and anti-Semitism through censorship of all forms of information; books, school curriculum, and propaganda. This method of spreading propaganda and glorification of the regime was paralleled through the armed services, into which all men were required to enlist at 18, where fanatic commitment to Nazi ideology was enforced. In addition to this was the terror – the ever-present threat of trial, severe punishment or death if you adopted any other point of view. This is a hard concept to comprehend if you were not in Nazi Germany at the time, and thus raises many questions. If human beings were able to contribute to an event as terrible as the holocaust then does this suggest the idea that another factor is participating in their level of confidence? Fear – an emotion that had the power to make people think that what they were doing to innocent people was morally right. Could it be that emotion is an external factor which decreases doubt when knowledge is limited? This is supporting the theory that confidence only comes when knowledge is limited.