...A man may truly say that ignorance is a third cause of crimes.
Ignorance, however, may be conveniently divided by the legislator into
two sorts: there is simple ignorance, which is the source of lighter
offences, and double ignorance, which is accompanied by a conceit of
wisdom; and he who is under the influence of the latter fancies that he
knows all about matters of which he knows nothing. This second kind of
ignorance, when possessed of power and strength, will be held by the
legislator to be the source of great and monstrous times, but when
attended with weakness, will only result in the errors of children and
old men; and these he will treat as errors, and will make laws
accordingly for those who commit them, which will be the mildest and
most merciful of all laws...