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Zaphiropoulos, M. (1993). Responsibility, Accountability and the Pursuit of Foolishness. Contemp. Psychoanal., 29:123-129.

(1993). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 29:123-129

Responsibility, Accountability and the Pursuit of Foolishness

Miltiades Zaphiropoulos, M.D.

HAVING BEEN INVITED TO participate in a project concerned with accountability, responsibility or anything else I might discern in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I found myself wondering how impious or impish my first reaction was since what kept running through my mind was the expression if one asks foolish questions, one gets foolish answers.

I hasten to say that this did not refer to the invitation itself, but to what remained with me rather persistently after repeatedly perusing the tale. The expression led me to look up its possible sources. Thus I came across the following statements: "To foolish demur behoveth a foolish answer" (Caxton, 1484) ; "Answer every fool in his folly" (L'Estrange, 1692) ; and also "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit" (Old Testament, Proverbs, ca. 400).

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