Monday, December 12, 2016

The What of Wisdom

What does it mean to be wise?  Why are owls considered wise? Does wisdom increase with age?

In 430 BC, the oracle at Delphi, shrine of prophesies, declared Socrates wiser than any man living. Socrates decided to test the statement. He first approached the politicians, elected because of wisdom. They thought they knew everything but soon discovered they knew nothing. He decided he was wiser since he knew he knew nothing.

Then Socrates talked to the poets who wrote wise words and beguiled with their compositions. They created out of inspiration not wisdom. More like prophets, they wrote ideas and philosophies but did not know the meaning of their words. Poets thought they were wise. Socrates discounted them.

Next, Socrates searched for craftsmen who made sandals, boats and pots. They knew many details about their trade. Although their designs assisted others, their knowledge related to specific skills that did not transfer. 

In conclusion, Socrates understood that the oracle meant he had an awareness of his own ignorance which did not mean he had wisdom.

You know something now you might not have known before.  Are you wiser?

Many have posted one-liners about wisdom.  How would you respond?

A single conversation with a wise man during the eating of a meal, is better than ten years' mere study of books. ~Chinese Proverb

Wisdom comes by disillusionment. ~George Santayana

Some folks are wise and some are otherwise. ~Tobias Smollett

Wisdom outweighs any wealth. ~Sophocles

If wisdom and diamonds grew on the same tree we could soon tell how much men loved wisdom. ~Lemuel K. Washburn

Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~East African Proverb

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. ~William James

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit. ~Elbert Hubbard

We can be Knowledgeable with other men's knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men's wisdom. ~Michel de Montaigne

Wisdom begins at the end. ~Daniel Webster

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