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Philosophy Cafe - Cafe Philosophique Message Board › The changing nature of the Philosopher.

The changing nature of the Philosopher.

Gary J.
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 1
It all starts with the Greeks, specifically with Pythagoras who invented the term to describe himself as a philo-sophi a Lover of Wisdom. Socrates and Plato took up the classification. Although within the writing of Aristotle something new, a change took place. Aristotle was pointing the way toward a new kind of thinker. He was leaving behind the Lover or Wisdom and starting that new modality of thinking – the Philo-espisteme the Lover of Knowledge. After Aristotle those who were called ‘philosophers’ were not seeking to cultivate and discourse about Wisdom any longer, but rather they were actually Lovers of Knowledge. The modern ‘Natural Philosopher’ was someone focused on discovering knowledge about Nature. Our modern scientist is the final outcome of the Lover of Knowledge.


Do you see a difference between Wisdom and Knowledge?

Jeff G
Oakland, CA
Post #: 225
As it happens, we took on the theme "Wisdom" in 2013. I never posted an Afterword, so I've linked to this discussion from the index.

I did have plenty of notes from this search to differentiate wisdom from knowledge. While we started with an unspecified Gendler quote that led us to part/whole speculations, and I attempted to introduce Emerson (which I was reading at the time), we got more mileage out of Socrates: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." However, this led to somewhat dismissive characterizations of wisdom as "awfully flexible," "the sour grapes of practical knowledge," "knowledge divorced from the knower," and "we hate to say we don't know."

The contemporary idea of wisdom, anyway, is that it is the limits of knowledge. More statically, it is that which we can never know. Experientially, it is how to live without knowing, without the hope of knowing.

Two examples: children and King Solomon. Children display a naive wisdom from having to look at their world without the blinders of knowledge, resulting in "emperor's new clothes" moments. A non-psychological reading (perhaps more appropriate to the era) of Solomon's ruling that he would cut the contested baby in half, is that he accepted that he did not know whose baby it was but proceeded to do the "best" he could despite his ignorance.

It does seem that it is our insistence on immediate practicality that leads us to pooh-pooh wisdom. One might conjecture that the law of logical noncontradiction is squarely aimed at tarring the paradoxical aspect that wisdom often exhibits, such that we allow ourselves to enjoy only in the context of Art...which just makes it that much harder to talk about.

Emerson: "To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom."

Gary J.
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 3
The Wisdom teaching of the Solomon myth is that he was wise enough to know that the true mother would never allow the child to be harmed. The idea that he would seriously cut the baby is not a Wisdom response but a Knowledge response.

Wisdom is not the accumulation of information but the ability to harmonize that information. Harmony is the key to Wisdom. To understand Wisdom you would do better to explore Pythagoras and his teachings, since he is the source of the definition of the Philosopher: the Lover of Wisdom.

Taoism is an excellent example of a Wisdom tradition and one that contrasts itself with the knowledge based schools.

Story telling and parables, the art is many forms are use to teach Wisdom.

I still think my idea of Camus's quotes would be a good topic. The topic is not about death but about life. Someone who was a lover of Wisdom would have spotted that immediately. A lover of Knowledge would focus on the literal meaning and miss the intended meaning.
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