RL: Wisdom = (something like this):
- Accurate pattern observance and formation.
- Accurate pattern recognition.
- Accurate hypothesis creation.
- Accurate hypothesis testing.
- Accurate generalization (tentative conclusion) formation.
- Accurate understanding of the underlying nature of existence.
- Acceptance of the reality of existence based on making peace with life’s underlying nature.
- Proper application of all of this wisdom-knowledge to the day to day business of life and especially human relations.
Steve: I think 1-5 is more the processes involved in gaining wisdom rather than what wisdom itself is.
RL: I think those were supposed to be steps actually. Step 1, Step 2, etc.
Steve: Ah makes sense. My bad.
I really like 6 and 7. I think 6 gets to the essential point about the nature of existence. Plus I wouldn’t have thought of it, but I guess there is wisdom in acceptance. 6, 7 and 8 are a bit like the Buddhist view, meditation and action.
The problem is that just understanding the underlying nature of existence is not enough.
Suppose you figure out life completely, but instead of being enlightened, you become bitter and decide that it all sucks or the downside outweighs the good. And that is a perfectly logical conclusion to make based on an understanding of the nature of existence. It makes complete sense to think that life blows or that the down outweighs the good. It’s not an erroneous belief at all. Nor is it a correct one.
And even if you thought it was wrong, there would be no way to prove it was either true or false because philosophical statements are generally outside of the realm of science. In other words, everything in philosophy is just a bunch of opinions. We can’t write some mathematical proof on the board that proves that Nietzsche or Wittgenstein or Spinoza were right. Nor can we prove they were wrong. All of that stuff is pretty much a matter of opinion.
But rationally speaking, concluding that life blows and the bad outweighs the good – let’s face it – it’s not exactly adaptive. It’s not a view that is going to lead to a happier and easier existence, which ought to be one of the goals of life and is actually a form of wisdom itself.
So instead, we have:
6. Figure out life and understand the true nature of existence, the good, the bad and the ugly. This can be thought of as possibly Transcendental Wisdom.
7. Hopefully without making too many value judgements, just simply accept the reality of existence – the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of it all – and simply accept them in toto as “this is the way things are, and there’s nothing to be done,” and accept that life is full of sadness, pain, etc., but it doesn’t get you down because you realize that that’s just the way life is. In fact, the Buddhists say, “All of life is sadness,” or “All of life is suffering,” depending on the translation you prefer, and that’s not necessarily a false statement.
But in Buddhism you simply accept that as an unalterable aspect of reality, and you accept it and make some sort of a peace with life instead of spending your whole existence warring at life for being what it is, which after all, doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Now that you understand the full nature of existence and you have swallowed hard, bit the bullet and made whatever peace with it that you can, now you can stop fighting. You can stop fighting against life for being what it is. You can stop raging at other humans for doing what they do because that’s what they do, and there isn’t a lot of hope of changing them, and it’s not even relevant if they can change or not. You can stop hating people for acting like people, for being people.
Do you hate your cat for acting like a cat, for being a cat? Of course not. Nor do you expect it to act entirely rational? No, because after all, it’s just a cat, and cats just do what they do and don’t have a lot of control over themselves. If you accept your cat for being cat, why hate women? Why hate men? Misogynists hate women for acting like women, for doing what women do. Misandrists hate men for being men, for doing the things that men do. This second step could be called many things, but perhaps it is best summed up as Peaceful Acceptance of the True Nature of Life or possibly Meditative Wisdom.
8. Armed with all of your acquired knowledge, wisdom and whatever intelligence you have, you know go out into the world applying your understanding of the underlying nature of life and even better, your acceptance of that for what it is and your peace with it. You apply this synthesis of
- transcendental knowledge
to the world around you and most importantly to the humans in it. Hopefully, doing that, you will try to make the most correct, rational and adaptive decisions possible to whatever events you may encounter in life. This final step can be thought of as Wisdom in Action.