Thanks for your thoughts, which are certainly valid, yet not the only way to
look at wisdom. My own view is that there are many aspects of wisdom that
can be improved by conscious effort, such as openness, self-knowledge,
empathy, prioritizing, rationality, holistic thinking, and humility. Why
It would be the height of folly to claim to have wisdom, to seek to set up
any kind of authority on it, or to try and promote it in anyone but oneself
Personally, I believe it is a mistake to think of wisdom as something either
unattainably exalted, or that to help others cultivate it requires arrogance
or folly--any more than learning anything else. Juan Pascual-Leone
(1990:245) articulates a general consensus among current psychologist
researchers on wisdom when he calls it “the ultimate possible achievement of
a normal person’s growth.” Why not promote wisdom as a priority, for
individuals and society in general? We're all learning.
Etienne Gilson, (1951:2), reminds us that “there was a time, in ancient
Greece, when philosophy. . . . was, precisely, a life wholly dedicated to
the pursuit of wisdom.” Philosophy was not limited to academics, it was a
way of life cultivated by people who loved wisdom. In What Is Ancient
Philosophy? (2002:4) Pierre Hadot writes that for the Greeks, “Philosophy is
merely a preparatory exercise for wisdom. . . . . a discourse and a way of
life which tend toward wisdom without ever achieving it.” Hadot, in fact,
describes a number of exercises that were used.
You also wrote,
but perhaps I am in the wrong place, and talking about something completely
different using the same word.
I don't think you're talking about something completely different using the
same word--but what do you think of Nick's definition of wisdom as “the
capacity to realize what is of value in life”?
With best regards,
All people will be able to flourish in a flourishing natural environment
>From: Isabel Adonis <[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: Re: What next?
>Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 17:16:52 +0100
>I have been watching this list for a few days, wondering if I have any
>place in it. Now it seems time to ask. My name is bob Macintosh and I am an
>amateur of wisdom, which I think means the same as 'philosopher'. However,
>by amateur, I also mean that I have no attachment to any academic
>institution, and that I do not get paid for my thinking.
>I am entirely in sympathy with the suggested vision statement, but the
>mission statement I wish to question. I certainly want to encourage
>academia to seek wisdom, but I am not sure that it can be promoted or that
>it is a capacity.
>Over the last couple of centuries, knowledge has increased exponentially,
>yet wisdom has increased not at all. I question whether wisdom has any
>connection with knowledge? Knowledge can be taught and learned, it can be
>accumulated and passed on, it is capacity - to speak a language, or conduct
>valid experiments, or pass exams, or whatever; but is wisdom like that?
>Most of the conversation here has been about thinkers who have been largely
>neglected by academia. The Laws of Form demonstrates that even an enquiry
>into railway switches, if pursued in the right spirit can lead to wisdom,
>but I suspect that it cannot be arrived at by following another, not even a
>college professor, and not even George Spencer Brown. Incidentally, can I
>reccomend as a complement to the above, The Ending of Time, by J
>Krishnamurti & Dr David Bohm, which starts from the other end as it were,
>and works backwards to the first distinction.
>My own point of view is that wisdom is identical with love and also
>rationality, which is the absence of self; it has nothing to do with
>knowledge, and is not more widespread in academia than elsewhere. It would
>be the height of folly to claim to have wisdom, to seek to set up any kind
>of authority on it, or to try and promote it in anyone but oneself - but
>perhaps I am in the wrong place, and talking about something completely
>different using the same word.
> best wishes,
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Nicholas Maxwell
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 2:18 PM