This article brings forth a new perspective concerning the relation between stupidity and thinking by proposing to conceptualise the state of non-thinking in two different ways, situated at the opposite ends of the spectrum of thinking. Two conceptualisations of stupidity are discussed, one critical which follows a French line of continental thinkers, and the other one which will be called educational or ascetic, following the work of Agamben. The critical approach is conceptualised in terms of seriality of thinking, or thinking captured by an apparatus, whereas the ascetic-educational approach is discussed by tracing the links between studying and stupidity. Both accounts assume that stupidity as non-thinking is a condition for thinking, either placed before thinking emerges or as an after-thought. However, the political implications concerning the role of philosophy in the public realm are divergent: for the critical approach, the task of the philosopher is to criticise the world, whereas for the ascetic approach, the task is to work on one’s own self and hope that the world will be changed through thinking. The wider aim of this article is to contribute to the debate concerning the public role of the intellectual starting from the assumption that there is a duty to think publicly and then clarifying what this duty entails in relation to the self and the others.