I must admit that I am somewhat surprised by some of the recent comments.
Nick makes it very clear in the left hand column of his website (and that
of the Friends of Wisdom website) what the Friends of Wisdom stand for.
“This is an association of people sympathetic to the idea that academic
inquiry should help humanity acquire more wisdom by rational means.”
Central to this, surely, is the view that wisdom can be taught, contrary to
the view of several correspondents, for how else can you help people
acquire wisdom if you cannot teach them what it is?
I also find the suggestion that wisdom is something that people either have
or do not have to be quite baffling. Surely this makes wisdom a capricious
thing? Not something to be valued, cherished and above all encouraged in
others. Unless, that is, we are talking about a definition of wisdom quite
at odds with what I take wisdom to be.
But we do not need to go round in circles trying to reach a definition, for
Nick provides one in his very next sentence,
“Wisdom is taken to be the capacity to realize what is of value in life,
for oneself and others. It includes knowledge, understanding and
technological know-how, and much else besides.”
This is not supposed to be THE definition of wisdom, as Nick has stated on
several occasions, but rather just ONE definition, a concise way of saying
that we should be encouraging academia (and everyone, really) to explore
what is of value in life, for ourselves and others, how it can be achieved,
and how we can encourage others to share in this endeavour. Having said
that, I think that it is as good a general definition of wisdom as I have
A further point is that explicit within the definition (“It includes
knowledge, understanding and technological know-how, and much else
besides.”) is the view that wisdom CAN be defined, that it can be
quantified, at least to a certain degree, that it is not some unreachable,
spiritual, Karma-like state, which seems to be the view of some the
So, in short, this is what the Friends of Wisdom stands for:
An association of people sympathetic to the idea that academic inquiry
should help humanity acquire the capacity to realize what is of value in
life, for oneself and others.
Call it wisdom, call it humanity, call it what you like, but let us please
get on with the important business of deciding how we can put it into
As I have already suggested to Nick, I think that the first step is to
create a clear constitution of some kind - any thoughts on this most