What is Wisdom ?

  • January 21, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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This session is an invitation to reflect and discuss the currently underused word wisdom.

 

Here is my working understanding of wisdom and some of  the key questions associated.

 

Wisdom is a quality of being where there is genuine integration of knowledge within some morally positive framework.  There is also the necessary quality that a wise person's knowledge adeptly spans  both first principles and practical details in the particular knowledge domain.Similarly undergirding this expertise is a similar capacity to relate particular situation to the person's broader moral framework. Finally there is an ongoing  epistemic humility and deep curiosity which helps to continue to develop these wise qualities.

 

An evil person can have great knowledge but is not wise by this definition since his moral code is negative.

Or a computer may have a great expert system but is not considered wise since a computer is not a being capable of agency.{limiting this to computers of today}.

A person who has great theoretical knowledge but no ability to apply it is not wise. Or similarly a person unable to infer broader implications from the particular is not wise.

 

There are many types of wise persons by this definition, as there many types of moral positive frameworks as well many different types of knowledge domains .

Here are some quick examples that come to my mind:

- Jane Goodall as wise advocate of ecological diversity

- Houston Smith as ecumenical interpreter of World Religions

- Medical Doctors providing care for the disadvantage through organization like Doctors Without Borders

- Bill Moyers, Rachel Maddow, and even David Brooks as wise commentators on the US political scene. Would suggest Rex Murphy is not wise with his views on climate change and purpled indignation on issues.

 

What are good examples of wise and not wise persons ?

 

What are moral frameworks that are consistent  and not consistent with wisdom ?

Here I identity moral framework's whose intent is largely positive in effect to persons and community. Of course there are limits and tradeoffs.  Moderate humanism and moderate religions would argue encapsulate positive moral frameworks that are consistent with wisdom. Fundamentalism of any kind is not consistent.

 

What types of knowledge is consistent and not consistent with wisdom ?

For example, a moral engineer involved in building nuclear weapons..

 

Looking forward to the discussion.

 

James

 

 

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  • Slava

    And let's not forget the wisest of them all: Oprah Winfrey. Poor Schopenhauer, Seneca and Camus walk out in shame... (probably to take a course in positive psychotherapy :-)

    January 20, 2013

    • alice g.

      ?

      January 20, 2013

    • Slava

      Good point. But there is an opinion also that if the apes still just ate bananas instead of asking not-so-positive and perhaps very dangerous question "Why?" they would still be living in the trees ( which probably means they would have better sex, would be less cranky, etc). I guess different strokes for different folks... but I wish to be spared of the sight of Schopenhauer crying over the pushed seamstress on live TV ( a-la Armstrong or Tiger Woods ). I'll take him over Oprah, Mother Theresa, etc ( even if worse sex and sleepless nights are the price to pay :-)

      January 21, 2013

  • alice g.

    As Socrates said in Plato's "Symposium", the wise person needs neither to define nor to pursue wisdom...

    January 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can't come to this one. But a question for people. Do you think wisdom and knowledge are incommensurable? And if so, is wisdom related to experience or not? Any references would be welcome.

    January 9, 2013

    • alice g.

      Indubitably - on both counts.

      January 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Would like to thank the kind (but anonymous) soul who approved my request for membership.
    Wishing everyone a lovely day!

    January 4, 2013

  • alex

    Oh! Another great conversion topic! The difference between knowledge and wisdom. ;)

    December 9, 2012

    • alex

      Is there a lack thereof? Or we just ignorant to where and what it is?

      December 9, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Given our treatment of our environment, and if any "animal" that is content to poison its own bed for short term gain is neither wise nor knowledgeable... then I'ld say there is a lack of either

      December 9, 2012

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