"Wisdom Deficit in the Age of Information" by Edward Spence (Presentation)

Dear members, 

here you have the details of one of the most interesting presentations of the year. We will probably close the year with this most expected discussion about Ethics in the information age. Please, read below the abstract submitted by Edward Spence. And thanks to all of you for the interest shown in following our group and for your feedback. Special thanks to those members and sympathizers who have submitted their proposals to present in September. I will not discharge them but I will keep them as a possible presentation for future events at “The Philosophers' Corner”.

Abstract for next presentation:

The age of abundant of information is paradoxically marked by a deficit of wisdom. It seems the more information we have at our disposal the less wise we become in managing and controlling that information for our individual and collective welfare. We simply do not always know the best way to handle digital information. Part of the problem is that there is too much of it and secondly there is not enough time to absorb it, understand its implications and judge the best way to use it for our individual and common good. The glut of information has created gluttony for information, which can lead us to behave not necessarily unethically but rather unwisely and foolishly. Examples of such unwise and foolish online behaviour abound. Take for example the Australian treble Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rise who lost a lucrative sponsorship with Jaguar as a result of a thoughtless tweet about the South African rugby team; the Canberra Raiders star who was photographed performing an act of simulated bestiality with a dog, which was later published on the internet and forced his resignation. There are many such daily informational acts of unwise and self-defeating behaviour, which but for the all-seeing-eye of the omnipresent internet, would normally pass unnoticed as matters of no consequence. The problem is that what goes on the internet stays on the internet. 


If we cannot control or manage the flow of information on the internet just as we cannot control the weather, the next best thing is to control our own online informational behaviour, which is within our control. We have to learn how to use and disseminate information wisely in a manner that protects and promotes our individual and collective wellbeing. Wisdom that was the core concern of philosophy in ancient Greece provides a ready-made model. As a higher-type of knowledge (knowing how to understand and use information with good judgement for the benefit of all) wisdom can provide practical know-how for applying information to improve our lives and that of others. It is also a reflective virtue in the form of practical prudence, which can teach us how to create and use information to live good and meaningful lives in the infosphere – lives that are capable of leading to self-fulfilment and well-being, for us and others. 


Biographical Note for Edward Spence

Edward Spence, BA (Honors, First Class), PhD (University of Sydney), is a senior lecturer in moral philosophy and applied ethics in the School of Communication and Creative Industries, Charles Sturt University. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the ARC Special Research Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) in Canberra and a Research Fellow at the 3TU Centre of Excellence for Ethics and Technology, The Hague, Netherlands. He is the author of Advertising Ethics 2005, Corruption and Anti-Corruption: A Philosophical Approach (2005), Ethics Within Reason: A Neo-Gewirthian Approach (2006), Media, Markets and Morals, Wiley-Blackwell (2011), and The Good Life in a Technological Age (forthcoming) Routlege. He is also the author of several papers in national and international journals in applied philosophy and applied ethics, including media and new media ethics and the ethics of information and technology. He is the creator and producer of the Philosophy Plays project whose aim is the introduction of philosophy to the general public through drama and audience participation through discussion. Conceived by Edward in 1997, the Philosophy Plays project combines philosophical talks with original plays performed by actors in public forums among others, restaurants, pubs, theatres, vineyards, and opera houses.

This free presentation is open to the public, reflecting the policy of The Philosophers Corner to spread culture and knowledge. However we appreciate a ‘gold coin donation’ to help us cover the costs of delivering our presentations, and sharing of philosophical ideas. The presentation will be recorded and available for purchase by members.

Please arrive few minutes before 7:30 on September 7th, 2011, though the speaker will start presenting at 7:30 we would like attendees to be by 7:15 if possible. 

After the presentation, if time allow us the group will continue talking at The Fringe pub,  106 Oxford Street Paddington NSW 2021.


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  • EC

    I enjoyed parts of the talk but thought that it wandered far off-topic at other times. Personally I'd prefer a talk that really focuses and explores the one topic at hand rather than wandering off into the many other areas of philosophy. I also agree with Nelson that I didn't see a clear connection to God and Genesis and I thought that it was unusual how this was introduced into the talk.

    September 9, 2011

  • Nelson L.

    he had me at info-orgs, but lost me at genesis.

    September 8, 2011

  • Alec

    Edward spoke about information, knowledge and wisdom. He highlighted the need to overcome the confusion created by the amount of information that we receive and hoped for the forthcoming Age of Wisdom where happiness can be achieved once our understanding will make it possible. The evening was a pure philosophical presentation where everybody was able to focus on the ideas that were discussed. Edward managed to delight us as well as enlighten us. Thanks Edward for your contribution to The Philosophers' Corner.

    September 8, 2011

  • Quentin F.

    an awful lot of 'the obvious' from various folk, can't say there was any earth-shattering info; more or less as expected.

    September 8, 2011

  • Timothy M.

    Simply brilliant argument Edward. Thank you for your wisdom. As my mum would say, 'yy u r yy u b I c u r yy 4 me'. (yy = too wise0. Congratulations on your whole presentation. Please publish your paper for us to help our recall for our production of a good life. Congratulations and thank you Jess on again choosing so wise a presenter to continue our philosophy education under your guidance

    September 8, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very interesting. I walked away feeling the need to use my personal information intake wisely and spread happiness everywhere.

    September 8, 2011

  • Lisa

    Very interesting presentation

    September 8, 2011

  • Luca

    Oh well.. A sauna before or after the presentation could be a nice idea :) Or better we can have the meetup into the sauna while listening the presentation, if you also want to watch it we have to avoid the Turkish one... "Philosophic Sauna Meetup", it sounds good a new brand name, isn't it ?

    August 10, 2011

  • Alec

    Hi all, I've made some changes in the address link, so I hope there will not be any more problems now about how to find the venue.

    August 10, 2011

  • EC

    Thanks for the pointers everyone. I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to find the venue this time :)

    August 10, 2011

  • Anthony

    And not to be confused with 42 Oxford St Darlinghurst which turns out to be a Gay Sauna. Who would have thought finding an address would be so complicated? Annoying isn't it.

    August 10, 2011

  • Linda B

    Hi Ethan,

    The map link does take you to 42 Oxford St, but I think it's Edgecliff. In any case it's way too far East on Oxford St. The bookshop is in Paddington, near the Verona Theatre, and on the corner of West St. Try Googling the address and specify Paddington instead of Sydney and you should get the right map.

    August 9, 2011

  • Alec

    Hi Ethann,
    The address in the website is correct, if you click on the link highlighted in blue that says Ariel Bookshop, but anyway it is in 42 Oxford Street, Paddington, NSW
    and the tel. is[masked]

    August 9, 2011

  • EC

    Hi. Can someone tell me exactly where Ariel Bookshop is in Oxford Street? I missed last meeting because I went to the location where the *map* links points to but this is a residential address. Also the phone number n the bookshop's website was wrong so I couldn't get directions :( Thanks.

    August 9, 2011

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