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'The blind leading the blind' is an idiom and a metaphor in the form of a parallel phrase, it is used to describe a situation where a person who knows nothing is getting advice and help from another person who knows almost nothing. The idiom can be traced back to the Upanishads, which were written around 800 BCEAbiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind. A similar metaphor exists in the Buddhist Pali Canon, composed in North India, and preserved orally until it was committed to writing during the Fourth Buddhist Council in Sri Lanka in 29 BCE. Suppose there were a row of blind men, each holding on to the one in front of him: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see. In the same way, the statement of the Brahmans turns out to be a row of blind men, as it were: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see. The expression appears in Horace: Caecus caeco dux ('the blind leader of the blind'). Horace was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (27 BCE 14 CE)The saying appears several times in the Bible with similar stories appearing in the gospels of Matthew, Luke and Thomas, possibly via the Q source. 'Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them, they are blind guides [of the blind]. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit. 'Sextus Empiricus (160 210CE) compares ignorant teachers and blind guides in Outlines of Scepticism:'Nor does the non-expert teach the non-expertany more than the blind can lead the blind. 'The phrase appears in Adagia, an annotated collection of Greek and Latin proverbs, compiled during the Renaissance by Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus. The first edition, titled Collectanea Adagiorum, was published in Paris in 1500 CE. Artistic depictions Perhaps the most famous artistic depiction of the phrase is Pieter Bruegel's The Blind Leading the Blind.
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