Sunday, April 30, 2006

Knowledge or Wisdom

A question which is often posed is "Which would you choose : Knowledge or Wisdom ?" I believe most people will answer wisdom. I am not surprised, because wisdom implies an "ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting" ( , while knowledge merely means that one knows a lot but does not neccessarily apply this knowledge justly. To raise a simplistic example, stories may have wise characters, but these are always good characters (or neutral at worst). There never was a "wise and evil wizard", right ? However, it is justifiable to have a "learned but twisted sorcerer", because knowledge, unlike wisdom, seems to have no bearing on one's alignment (to use D&D terms).

I am not a "learned but twisted sorcerer", but I would prefer knowledge over wisdom. The reason for my choice is because I believe that there are no objective moral truths, and hence this necessarily implies that there is no objective right or wrong. If so, then there is no "true wisdom', merely many "subjective wisdoms" each suscribing to different ideas of moral truth. Each wisdom is as utterly meaningless as the next. Why, then, should I pursue wisdom ?

I could simplify the original question , making it "Which would you choose to be instantly granted to you : Great Knowledge or Great Wisdom ? " . In this case, great wisdom is even worse a choice than before. The key point is whose "Great Wisdom" would you be granted ? It could be Satan's wisdom. It could be George Bush's. In any case, gaining "Great Wisdom" must mean the forceful destruction of your own wisdom, because it is unlikely that two systems of moral truth can coexist in one vessel (you). Hence, gaining "Great Wisdom" is absolutely useless, and in fact proves to be a negative, for you would even lose yourself.

Knowledge, on the other hand, is by far more objective than Wisdom. There are some objective truths that are immutable and independent of context . A circle cannot rightly be a triangle (although it could wrongly be intepreted to be a triangle, but this does not change the nature of the circle). Most importantly, gaining knowledge does not forcefully change my fundamental nature, because I am free to intepret the knowledge I have gained.

Hence my answer that Knowledge is better than Wisdom.


Anonymous said...

well, sorcerers use intelligence as the attribute for determining spells but wizards use wisdom... so actually both intelligence and wisdom have absoulutely no bearing on alignment (D&D terms)...

The Negative Man said...

Point noted, but I have serious doubts that that particular definition of intelligence and wisdom is what most people think of when they hear those two words.

Anonymous said...

Many people try to achieve goals. Most fail. Some strive, work hard and plan for all the details yet they achieve little or nothing at all. Others strive, work hard, plan and achieve huge success. Yet there are a few individuals who do little else than take small steps and seem to achieve a great deal with what seems like effortlessness. What is the difference between these people and which one would you like to be?
Most members of the human race fall into two categories - those who live in the past and those who live in the future. Most live in the past. Many of these are the people who achieve very little in their lives and are so fearful of the future that they dare not strike out to get anything. They are the under-achievers who hang onto bad episodes in their lives and either relive them time and again or look at new situations as similar potentialities. They say things like "all men are deceivers" or "all women are interested in is money" or "I can't do it. I tried before and it didn't work so why bother!". Due to bad experiences in the past they believe that all future events will turn out the same way if they dare to go after what they want.
The other type of person lives in the future. This type tends to create more of the things they want in life. They have a vision of where they want to go and exactly how they are going to get there. They work diligently at making concrete plans and they pursue those plans with a persistent ferocious appetite for success. These people are the high achievers - The Richard Branson and Bill Gates of the world. These people have much to teach us about setting and achieving goals.
However, there is a third type of person who almost goes unnoticed. They are the person who takes life in its stride and yet achieve most of what they want. I am sure you know of such a person in your life that just seems to saunter through life and yet they always come out on top. Or a person who you hear of that has decided to open a shop. You meet them a few months later and they have three shops all doing well! So what makes these people so successful and if they aren't living in the past and aren't living in the future where are they living?
I suppose you guessed it! Whether they are consciously aware of it or not they are living in the present. It is in the 'living' present that we have our greatest power. Everything happens in the present. You live your entire life there - even if your mind does not!
By becoming more aware of the present and by 'accepting' it as it is we are much more in control of our emotions and focus. When we live in the past we are fearful of making bad choices and/or getting hurt. We do not wish to recreate the past again! When we live in the future we can also be fearful of what might happen. But even if your future vision is full of power and worthy of working towards many people can, and often do, get stuck there. By constantly reaching for bigger and better goals they fail to enjoy what they have in the moment.
If you wish to start living a life that is almost effortless begin first by living in the present. Accept your situation the way it is and then you can enjoy what you have. Your focus changes from a memory of what was or a vision of what might be to a realization of what is. You become much more empowered to then see the beauty of life and also look at where you wish to make changes. But to make changes you must first accept the situation as it is. Trying to escape from your present only increases your focus on your problems by creating resistance to what is. Accept your life as it is now. Make no judgement, just accept it and then you will be free of doubt, worry, pain and fear. For you only experience these things when you live outside the 'moment'. lucid dream