Having attempted to engage with these questions previously in this forum, I
have been wondering whether to respond to this chain of correspondence
regarding the 'teachability' and 'definition' of wisdom.
Suffice to suggest the following:
1. Belief that nature and human nature can be defined in discrete
(absolute) terms is not wisdom. It is the beginning of the alienation from
the world and one another, which wisdom might seek to ameliorate. As
William Wordsworth said in challenge to Erasmus Darwin:
'In nature everything is distinct, yet nothing defined into absolute,
Sadly, Erasmus' great grandson, Charles, and his many disciples didn't and
don't appreciate the depth of William's meaning and the way it exposes the
fallacy in abstract, either/or (to be or not to be) logic.
2. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it think.
i.e. As an educator you can facilitate entry into the space of wisdom, but
you cannot impose ('instructure')or assume to 'know' it. Such facilitation
has been my own educational approach, based on 'inclusionality' (awareness
of immaterial space as a vital inclusion of fluid dynamic natural
geometry), as I have tried to make sense of nature in a way that
corresponds with my human experience as well as my scientific knowledge. My
students, if not my biological colleagues, respond enthusiastically,
creatively and with remarkable insight, to this approach
So, yes, I do think a paradigmatic transformation is needed in our forms of
natural enquiry and education, both within and beyond academia. The academy
can play a very important role in facilitating this transformation if it
includes its tools of enquiry within its enquiry and holds firm in the face
of fallacious definitive argument and commercial interest.
--On 19 May 2006 03:36 -0400 [log in to unmask] wrote:
> Thanks for your comments ... very thought provoking ... My problem is
> that I do not feel that just having the ability to simply recycle wisdom
> is sufficient to define someone as wise .... so what is 'the next step'
> ... How does someone move from one category to the other. Perhaps, it is
> an oversimplification but I think it is those people who 'walk the talk'
> of wisdom who come into that category ... but some people are just wise
> in the actions without any of the talk? I would argue that someone who
> was really teaching wisdom could also be wise because of the way they
> teach .... on the other hand just because someone is discussing ideas
> around wisdom does not, in my view, make them wise. Nor would I consider
> someone a wise person if they were able to discuss the abstract issues
> associated with the subject of wisdom, but then behaved in a foolish way
> .... So, perhaps, our difference lies in what we mean by 'putting it into
> practice'. I don't have any problem with qualifying the phrase ....
> perhaps Charles Sander Peirce was a 'wise teacher' .... but does that
> necessarily mean he was a wise person? Is there any difference between
> someone who knows alot about Wisdom, and someone who is a Wise person? I
> am not a linguist, but is not Wisdom a different type of word to Wise
> .... and we usually talk about 'being Wise' ...
> In a message dated 19/05/2006 03:10:43 GMT Daylight Time, [log in to unmask]
> I fully disagree with that statement.
> There have been many examples in the past proving my opinion. For
> instance Charles Sander Peirce who without doubt was one of the most wise
> persons who ever lived. He however did not put (that much of) his wisdom
> in practise. In spite of that he chose to discuss his insights and
> enlightments he got from his wisdom. To teach his theories which are
> generally known as sign theories and semantics but involve a much broader
> field of knowledge and insights. There are examples of his theories and
> insights that indeed are put in practise. Like for instance his
> description of electronic switch that has been put in practise by another
> person (I do not know the name now) and by that delivered us the
> wonderful device called computer. And by that also to my favourite the
> laptop. Enabling a lot of processes and related products like the
> internet to evolve. Enabling us and other people to improve society and
> get a better view and insights about the world surrounding us. If you
> think about that, actually Charles Sander Peirce had a lot of influence
> on how the world around us looks like at current times. Human
> possibilities. But, like I said, he did not put his wisdom into practise
> himself. And that it evolved into the processes and product we know at
> current times is partly coincidence and just some path that humanity
> followed. A result from the discourses and rhetorics of life. Nothing to
> do really with his abilities or capacities to put his wisdom into
> practise. It was put in practise by other people. And there are more than
> enough examples of a lot of wisdom not put in practise yet. Probably a
> lot will be eventually, but a greater majority of wisdom and ideas will
> Actually putting some idea into practise is a very complicated process.
> Especially if it involves the very wise and great insights and ideas.
> Like I said before, in my opinion wisdom is something a person has or
> does not have. The capacity of wisdom. But to get wise, he has to get
> lots of knowledge. And preferably also lots of time for reflection on his
> thoughts. Then for putting great ideas into practise, even a small part
> of the ideas, requires a lot of time and communication that the average
> wise person will not prefer to spend since he would prefer to spend the
> time on reflection and broaden his wisdom by more reading and talking and
> And I could continue a lot with this discourse but well?think about it
> Kind regards,
> Wilfred Berendsen
> Van: Group concerned that academia should seek and promote wisdom
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Namens [log in to unmask]
> Verzonden: vrijdag 19 mei 2006 0:05
> Aan: [log in to unmask]
> Onderwerp: Re: What next?
> Being wise is the ability/capacity to put wisdom into practice ....