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Thoughts on Wisdom

I've recently restarted doing the ADF Dedicant program. Now, while writing the papers on the various virtues is not yet required (I've got a few weeks), I thought I'd start thinking about each of the virtues, one per day, and see what I can come up with over time. Yesterday I started with the first on the list... wisdom. So, while I was driving a bus full of students from point A to point B, to point C, back to B, back to A (lather, rinse, repeat), this is what I came up with.

The American Heritage Dictionary has the following definitions for 'wisdom'.

  1. Understanding of what is true, right, or lasting.

  2. Common sense; good judgement.

  3. Scholarly learning.

Looking at those definitions was a starting point for me. The second definition was the closest, to my mind, to the definition given in Our Own Druidry: good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response. This seemed fairly self-evident to me.

The first definition that was given is closer to my own definition of 'wisdom'. To me, wisdom is more about experiential learning, rather than the learning we do in school. Yes, what we learn in the course of our schooling does help us gain wisdom... but to me it is experience that grants wisdom, not just knowledge itself. I'm sure we can all think of someone that may not be very 'book smart' (may not even be literate), but is definitely 'wise'. To me, this just emphasizes the point that lack of knowledge does not equate to a lack of wisdom.

The third definition, as stated before, can help one to gain what I see as wisdom, but is not wisdom in and of itself. Scholarly learning in application is what wisdom is about. I know way too many folks that have quite a bit of 'book smarts', but are seriously lacking in wisdom... or common sense for that matter!

These thoughts lead me down the path of thinking about the Ancestors. I think wisdom is one of the major reasons for humans in general venerating our elders and ancestors. After all, the experience (or life knowledge) that they have can help guide those of us that come after towards what would be the proper societal and community actions and responses. The simple act of perpetuating a given society's or community's traditions and history are what perpetuates the same group's mores and ethos. That in turn helps those with less of that 'life knowledge' to learn what they need to learn, and become wise themselves.

Now, as regards the virtue of wisdom in relation to the rest of the nine virtues in the program... I think that wisdom is the primary (or controlling/guiding) virtue. It is wisdom that helps one balance or decide between a given set of virtues for any given situation. Let us use the example of 'hospitality' versus 'moderation' in the case of a dinner party where alcohol is available and the person in question is alcoholic. Wisdom is what would guide the person's decision as to whether they can balance the 'hospitality' virtue as regards drinking what is offered and the 'moderation' virtue that would guide them to drink less than they may 'need'... or to decide that 'moderation' is more important than 'hospitality' as their behavior when under the influence would violate 'hospitality' by itself.

Amazing the random thoughts one gets when driving a bus....


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
Deep Thoughts
Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing. I like your last paragraph especially.

I get my best thoughts, my deepest inspiration while walking, staring sightlessly at the ground as I walk. I expect people at work think I'm goofing off when I'm really rolling the pieces of the problem over in my mind, waiting for inspiration to strike.

Unfortunately, my new work is next to a golf course, so I might get struck by something else! :-)
Dec. 31st, 2010 07:52 am (UTC)
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Jan. 17th, 2011 07:56 am (UTC)
painter 11
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Jan. 18th, 2011 09:06 am (UTC)
provides access
Good luck getting people behind this one. Though you make some VERY fascinating points, youre going to have to do more than bring up a few things that may be different than what weve already heard. What are trying to say here? What do you want us to think? It seems like you cant really get behind a unique thought. Anyway, thats just my opinion.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )