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What is 'Wisdom', anyway?

What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 21, 2012, 12:04:42 AM
Long before I knew what I was doing, I was pursuing the attainment of wisdom.
Like The Holy Grail, a legendary thing that had obvious, if cryptic value.
Worth finding!

After a lifetime (so far) of questing after this elusive thing, I have come to have a considerable amount of it.
And with it comes a whole new question: what to do with it?

For almost exactly the same amount of time I was on this quest, I suffered (seriously suffered) from the world's worst stutter. And then one day it was completely gone. And with that came the whole new question: what to do with it.

I started hanging out on stuttering forums, trying to share my new success, and knowledge of how to attain it, with (fellow) stutterers. With shocking results...

Very soon I was the target of incredible abuse, and gratuitous attacks. I suffered this for altogether too long a time, before accepting that nobody wanted to hear that their pet disability was curable. And that to offer such assistance was to become no more than a sitting duck, unable to escape the pot-shots taken at it.

What I realized about all of this was that people were not seeing what I was offering for what it was. They seemed to always turn it into what it was not, instead, before even considering what was on offer.
I was there to boast about my success, they said.
To 'look-good' to others.
Motivated by ego, the need to impress, to tell blatant lies, etc.

Outside of speech-forums, in the real world, another problem manifested itself to the newly-fluent me:
I discovered, to my anguish, that although I had always assumed people were generally mean to me, because I stuttered (and sometimes they were), that they were, more often than not, extraordinarily patient while I subjected them to my three-words-per-minute freak-show act.
And now that I could speak, as well, or better than them, they made no bones about not being remotely interested in whatever I had to say.
Well. Get used to it. That is probably the norm for most people, that is so normal, they don't even recognize it. Nobody is really interested in what you have to say, anyway, because they are too busy composing what they are going to say, just as soon as they can cut you off.

And, you know, the exact same thing occurs, among 'intelligent' people, when wisdom is offered.
Wisdom is not something the young know about. It's the one really big lack a young person has, while having a surfeit of other things that their elders no longer have, or only have in limited quantities.
Not that age is any guarantee of wisdom. All too often it is not.
Yet there can be no wisdom without age and experience.
Lots and lots of experience.

And what to do with it?
Well, obviously, it changes one's own life, immeasurably, and by osmosis, everything in the vicinity benefits, whether it, or they, know it, or not.
But something the aged do, as the certainty of extinction looms, ever closer, is to try to pass along what they have learned, discovered, attained or realized. It is as natural as the sun rising in the east.
It seems a colossal waste, to take with one, to one's grave, all that one has learned, through a lifetime of trial and error, bliss and pain. So it must, somehow, be shared...

But the young, again...
Not knowing what wisdom is, cannot recognize it, and so ridicule it, instead.
Imagining that if they do not know something, already, themselves, then it must be horseshit.
And being horseshit, then the sharer of it must be insulted, undermined, abused and driven off.
There was once this guy called Jesus, see...

The young do not know that every great name didn't start out that way.
For every great name, an ordinary person preceded it.
Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche...
All nobodies, until they became somebodies (in the eyes of later generations).

And all their views, without ever having read anything by any of them, I have been able to come to, myself, without help, and without guidance, just as they, themselves did. Or so I hear, from those who have read these people.
So what?
Do you see what I am talking about, here?

The wise have about as much use for 'looking-good' as a pancake does for oil-based paint.
The wise know themselves.
The wise are repositories of things the unwise have no concept of.
Perspectives unimaginable to the unwise.

And so the moronic attacks of lesser beings have no effect upon them, especially when they originate from internet morons who know absolutely nothing about those they attack, and who inevitably end up projecting their own worst faults upon their target-of-the-moment.
Such people - concerned so much with appearances - have no faint idea how incredibly puerile they appear when they behave as they do, or how egotistical their own imagined superiority renders them.

So what is wisdom, anyway?
The ability to know by not-knowing. To go beyond childish things, such as context-less intelligence, and to make use of any and all experiences that come along.
I stopped stuttering when I realized I had absolutely nothing in common with those horrid assholes who stuttered, while turning their disabilities into an all-consuming superiority-complex.
I was nothing like them! But without exposure to them, I might never have known that.

I stopped being unwise when I realized I was nothing like unwise people, and that they had nothing in common with me. That there was absolutely no advantage in trying to be like them, or to impress them, or have them like me. But without exposure to the worst in these people, I might never have known that.

So every shitty thing has its value, along with all those things that are in no way shitty.
It is only a matter of where you stand, in relation to what.
And what you are able to realize that those around you are unable to.

The best way, there is, to look really, really stupid, is to try to look intelligent, when you are not.
Especially when you try to do it at somebody else's expense.

So, where do you stand, concerning the unexpected appearance of what could be wisdom?
Are you open to consider something you maybe don't yet know?
Or compelled to ridicule it, out of hand?



Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 21, 2012, 12:39:07 AM
I'd question your desire to "attain" wisdom; we prefer to use "accrue", amongst the UK Hessians - it seems to come unbidden, as a simple result of being aware of the World.

Other than that, what you say is entirely devoid of even the faintest whiff of horseshit.

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 21, 2012, 12:46:55 AM
Attaining wisdom is what one seeks to do before one has any.
I would have assumed that to be obvious, but I often assume that, only to discover...

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 21, 2012, 07:28:51 PM
Attaining wisdom is what one seeks to do before one has any.
I would have assumed that to be obvious, but I often assume that, only to discover...

I think there's also the connotation that wisdom is not a full-stop that can be 'attained', but 'accrued' until death stops the worldly 'accrual'. Maybe that's just me thinking about the meaning of words too carefully.

So, what I'm always interested in when people talk about wisdom, is: how does one recognize the wise? Many claim to have gained wisdom, and usually when they are relatively young, we can safely ignore them. However, for the more likely candidates, what exactly are the hallmarks of the wise? This is important: if those who have it want to share wisdom, for the rest to receive it, we must be able to distinguish between charlatan and sage.

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 21, 2012, 08:45:33 PM
Wouldn't Plato himself say that education and the quest for wisdom is a shedding of illusions, and not at all an accumulation?  I would say that wisdom is attained more through subtraction than addition.  One of the ways that wisdom is manifested is in getting rid of time wasters in your life for instance.  Wisdom is like what's left over after you get rid of all the crap.  That's my stab at it.

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 21, 2012, 09:00:21 PM
Wouldn't Plato himself say that education and the quest for wisdom is a shedding of illusions, and not at all an accumulation?  I would say that wisdom is attained more through subtraction than addition.  One of the ways that wisdom is manifested is in getting rid of time wasters in your life for instance.  Wisdom is like what's left over after you get rid of all the crap.  That's my stab at it.

From what I know of crow's stance (I don't think he has directly stated it in this thread), it's pretty similar to what you're saying above. You could say: it's the removal and stripping away of illusions, but this is an accumulation in the sense that as "time passes", you gain more wisdom of what is illusory, and what is not. Again - I might be trying to unnecessarily mess with semantics here.

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 21, 2012, 09:45:20 PM
I don't see what's so fuckin' hard about figuring out how life functions. It doesn't take more than a monkey to understand action produces result. Maybe if we stop feeding kids bullshit about how life could be if only X were to happen they might not be so confused when the real world hits them.

Oh shit! The world isn't anything like what I was told. Time to make it so! OWS!

Then again most people have the cognitive function of starfish so what good is teaching them anything?

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 03:14:05 AM
I must appropriate that last statement for sig material.

Wisdom? For most people, even the pursuit of literacy is a complete waste of time. They don't need to be literate to function in service or other labor jobs. A small set of large cartoony icons associated with simple tasks and meanings would do just fine.

We should privatize those several years of public education by having a given company issue internationally standardized icon training courses to its employees. It is time to get real about the average working class human being.

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 04:06:41 AM
Wisdom, to my mind, measons something like 'practical knowledge' (as opposed to theoretical knowledge by itself, alothugh wisdom might dip into theoretical knowledge a bit).

Example: your 6 year old son, as opposed to your 21 year old son studying evolutionary biologiy, doesn't need to know about 'the selfish-gene' when he asks you 'what's life all about?'

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 08:17:16 AM
Wisdom is inclusive, holistic understanding.  Being able to draw on all schools of thought, personal experience, fiction, imagination, and anything else which we might be able to conceptualise, as well as all of those things which cannot be contained within human concepts (there are lots of these, I am discovering to my horror).

The wisest man of European antiquity was the only man to know that, in truth, he knew nothing (which pissed the Sophists off).  In contrast, the wisest man of ancient Egypt was the man who knew, to present an inexhaustive list, all of the stars, all of the Gods, all of the marvels of Nature, all of medicine, architecture, mathematics, agriculture, war, and, most importantly, the ways in which all of these things were connected (and how one might gain knowledge in one field through knowledge in another).

Wisdom is about patterns and connections more than it is about facts or narrow understanding.  Wisdom is the ability to penetrate simple fact and recognise the eternal Truth underlying all things, in all of its forms (Forms!).

Also, you can't answer "what's life all about?" skillfully with any reference to the selfish gene: that's the answer to "how did all of this life come about?", if anything.  Science is the tool to answer "how", to provide the physical mechanism for action and occurence, not the tool to answer "why" (you need a Philosopher or a Theologian to explain that).

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 03:03:44 PM
Attaining wisdom is what one seeks to do before one has any.
I would have assumed that to be obvious, but I often assume that, only to discover...

I think there's also the connotation that wisdom is not a full-stop that can be 'attained', but 'accrued' until death stops the worldly 'accrual'. Maybe that's just me thinking about the meaning of words too carefully.

So, what I'm always interested in when people talk about wisdom, is: how does one recognize the wise? Many claim to have gained wisdom, and usually when they are relatively young, we can safely ignore them. However, for the more likely candidates, what exactly are the hallmarks of the wise? This is important: if those who have it want to share wisdom, for the rest to receive it, we must be able to distinguish between charlatan and sage.


Good stuff.
To accrue is a useful perspective.
Wisdom may accrue, by itself, once one becomes a suitable container for holding it.
To become wise is to become a useful container for the rain that freely falls.

How does one recognize the wise?
Only by being somewhat wise, oneself.
The unwise will not know the difference, and more often than not, will attack wisdom for the offense of 'appearing to be it'.
Wisdom can not be shared, because it only arrives through experience.
Yet the wise man is what he is, and perspires the stuff, automatically.
Some find the stink offensive.

One may accept and consider, or demand proof and then try to destroy it.
The wise man more often than not, does his best, then disappears, forever.
The charlatan endlessly preaches, hoping for a following.

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 03:11:00 PM
Wouldn't Plato himself say that education and the quest for wisdom is a shedding of illusions, and not at all an accumulation?  I would say that wisdom is attained more through subtraction than addition.  One of the ways that wisdom is manifested is in getting rid of time wasters in your life for instance.  Wisdom is like what's left over after you get rid of all the crap.  That's my stab at it.


True.
We are speaking of wisdom, here, though; not enlightenment.
Enlightenment is the subtraction of everything else:
Diminish oneself until one disappears, completely, and what remains is the whole universe.
Whereas wisdom is a first step towards this.
The means to see clearly, without distraction.
An organizing of various things to achieve a self-sustaining balance.
Mental health, you might say.

Wisdom and enlightenment are closely related, like the chicken and the egg.
One may have a chicken, or one may have a chicken and and egg.
But there can be no egg without a chicken.
And there's a paradox :)

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 03:17:07 PM

From what I know of crow's stance (I don't think he has directly stated it in this thread), it's pretty similar to what you're saying above. You could say: it's the removal and stripping away of illusions, but this is an accumulation in the sense that as "time passes", you gain more wisdom of what is illusory, and what is not. Again - I might be trying to unnecessarily mess with semantics here.


This brings up an interesting point.
Wisdom could indeed be said to be a 'stripping-away' of illusions.
Whereas enlightenment is more like having every illusion stripped-away, all at once.
One is a gentle process, occurring over time.
The other, a silent, transformational cataclysm, occurring outside of time.
 

Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 03:24:34 PM

The wisest man of European antiquity was the only man to know that, in truth, he knew nothing (which pissed the Sophists off)...

Wisdom is about patterns and connections more than it is about facts or narrow understanding.  Wisdom is the ability to penetrate simple fact and recognise the eternal Truth underlying all things, in all of its forms (Forms!).


This idea of 'knowing nothing' confuses almost everyone.
How can a wise man 'know nothing'?
Because he has gained access to all that can be known, without having to know any of it, himself.
He accesses it, as he needs to. On demand.
He visits the reference-library - remember the Tree Of Knowledge? - in an instant, and reads up on what he needs. Then makes off, again, with his insight, leaving the books where he found them.

Patterns and connections, yes :)
You can't see them, stuck inside your own head.
You gotta get out more.


Re: What is 'Wisdom', anyway?
September 22, 2012, 06:21:29 PM
First of all, no offense, but we get it, Crow. You're old as fuck. Don't worry, we love you anyway.

This idea of 'knowing nothing' confuses almost everyone.
I think this is most directly a result of lacking perspective. You have to know so much before realizing that you know nothing in the grand scheme of things. Although, I suppose that's already obvious to most here.

I also think there's an important point to be made here. Teenagers are expected to be stupid; their brains haven't fully formed. People in their 20's and 30's have no excuse for acting like complete retards. They're the ones that truly worry me.