Hi Nick and all:
Good thoughts, I like the mission statement. As I understand a vision
statement, it is a description of the promised land, as far as the
organization sees it.
The proposed vision statement, "We wish to help humanity learn how to
create a better world" could be more direct, and a bit more specific,
something like "The vision of the Friends of Wisdom is A world that
prioritizes wisdom, wisdom being understood as the capacity to realize what
is of value in life, for oneself and others." The definition could then be
omitted from the mission statement.
All people will be able to flourish in a flourishing natural environment
>From: Nicholas Maxwell <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Group concerned that academia should seek and promote wisdom
> <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: What next?
>Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 14:18:44 +0100
>Dear Friends of Wisdom,
> We have announced our existence to
>the world - or to the readers of the Times Higher Education Supplement -
>and we have acquired new members. What do we do now? We are in broad
>agreement, I take it, that universities ought to seek and promote wisdom
>more actively and effectively than they do at present. But what does this
>involve? What changes need to be made to research and education if these
>are to seek and promote wisdom in an adequate way? How do we go about
>helping to bring the required changes about? What do we do?
> As I see it, we have two different
>but related tasks before us.
>(A) First, we need to continue to debate among ourselves what kind of
>inquiry would adequately seek and help promote wisdom. Is it primarily a
>question of teaching in such a way that, whatever else is being learned -
>physics, history, anthropology, etc. - the student also acquires wisdom, as
>the USA initiative "teaching for wisdom" would seem to hold? Or is
>something more radical required? Does there need to be a transformation in
>the overall aims and methods of inquiry, a change in the nature of
>disciplines, in the way they are related to one another, and a change in
>the way academia is related to the rest of society, if inquiry is to seek
>and promote wisdom adequately? Do we, perhaps, need an intellectual and
>cultural transformation comparable in importance to the scientific
>revolution of the 17th century, or the Enlightenment of the 18th century?
>(B) Assuming we come to some sort of rough agreement concerning (A), our
>task is then to try to get across to our academic colleagues the need for
>change, and ideas about what needs to change. It might be that what we
>need to do, here, is to stimulate serious debate about what the aims and
>methods of academic inquiry should be much more broadly, in and out of
>academic and educational contexts. Or perhaps we do have specific changes
>in mind which we hold need to be made to academia if it is to seek and
>promote wisdom adequately - our task being to make out the case for these
>changes as publicly and effectively as we can. Or perhaps we should
>ourselves begin to practise what we preach (if we are not already doing
>just that), so that we devote at least some of our own research, writing
>and teaching to the promotion of wisdom (as best we can). Or are we
>primarily a sort of meta-organization, facilitating communication between
>other people, groups, organizations and societies who are engaged in the
>struggle to help create a wiser world, and help create institutions of
>research and learning devoted to that end?
> (A) and (B) need to be carried on
>simultaneously, of course. I don't wish to imply that (A) has to be
>completed before we can begin with (B).
> My own view, as I expect many of you
>know, is that we do need a radical revolution in the aims and methods of
>academic inquiry, a revolution in its structure and character, if it is to
>seek and promote wisdom effectively, and in a genuinely rational way. I
>see ideal human inquiry as a sort of rational development of animal inquiry
>- the essential thing about animal inquiry being that it is learning how to
>live, learning how to act in the world so as to survive and reproduce.
>Human inquiry, too, ideally, ought to be (in my view) about learning how to
>live, learning how to act and be in the world; problems of living ought to
>be at the heart of the academic enterprise, and not, as at present, at the
>periphery. The big differences between animal and human inquiry are,
>first, the elaborately social character of the latter, and second that the
>basic aims of life and of inquiry are, for us, not only survival and
>reproduction, but rather the realization in life of what is genuinely of
>value (whatever that may be). The basic aims of life, and of inquiry are,
>for us, inherently problematic, and it ought to be a part of our task to
>try to improve our aims as we live, as we learn and think.
> This radical interpretation of our
>task is reflected, to some extent, in our website
>(www.knowledgetowisdom.org). Is it too radical? Or not radical enough?
>What ought we to be trying to achieve?
> In pursuing (A) and (B) I hope this
>emailing group will try to exercise some restraint, and will not send
>material or pursue discussion of matters only tangentially related to our
>main concerns. I have already received one or two complaints on this
>score. It has also been suggested to me that we should not send
>attachments to the list: I am not sure how people feel about that.
> Mathew Iredale, who helps me manage
>this emailing group, has suggested to me that Friends of Wisdom ought to
>have simple vision and mission statements, as many charities do. He says
>"Although our aims may be varied and complex, applying as they do to so
>many areas of life throughout the world, we ought to try and provide a
>simple statement of what they are". And he proposes the following, which
>seem to me to be excellent:-
>Our vision statement:- We wish to help humanity learn how to create a
>Our mission statement:- Our mission is to encourage academia to devote
>itself to seeking and promoting wisdom by rational means, wisdom being the
>capacity to realize what is of value in life, for oneself and others.
> And he also suggests that we put
>ourselves on a more formal basis and agree on a constitution for Friends of
>Wisdom - perhaps a simplified version of the constitution of Scientists for
>Global Responsibility (http://www.sgr.org.uk/Constitution.html).
> My apologies for the length of this
>email, clearly violating my request for restraint!
> Best wishes,
> Nick Maxwell