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Who is your nominee for wise person?

  1. May 30, 2007 #1
    Who is your nominee for wise person?

    Some consider that wisdom is “seeing life whole”

    John Henry Newman wrote that the pursuit of knowledge will "draw the mind off from things which will harm it," and added that it will renovate man's nature by rescuing him "from that fearful subjection to sense which is his ordinary state."

    Modern parents and students want universities and colleges to focus on matters of importance; how to get a good job. It seems that few recognize that education has an extrinsic and an intrinsic value. The extrinsic value is contained within the fact that a practical education is the key to making a better living.

    What is the intrinsic value of learning? Why study history or literature or religion? Of what value is philosophy? Why study logic or how to think when I only care about learning how to build a bridge? Of what value is it for me to become a critically self-conscious thinker?

    Everybody comprehends how the intellect can be used to build bridges, or repair a broken bone, or be an accountant but our culture has slowly removed from our comprehension the purpose of an ordered intellect in matters of providing meaning and purpose to life.

    It appears that the mind has its own ‘grammar’ (system of rules). Many forms of thinking, i.e. math and music or logic, help us construct a solid structure for exercising this grammar. Other types of knowledge, i.e. history, help us because we understand the present through analogies with the past.

    Creativity is greatly enhanced by the cross-fertilization of multiple sources and kinds of knowledge. The broad scope afforded by a liberal education prepares us to see things in ‘the whole’; we see things holistically (in combination, in completeness, not dissected or fragmented).

    I think that there are at least three forms of intellection: textual intellection is what we do when we reason in text form, artistic intellection is reasoning in artistic form, and practical intellection is what we do in our day-to-day living.

    I think that one must acquire a significant degree of understanding in each of these three forms of intellection to qualify for the distinction of “seeing life whole”.

    How do I ‘get ready’ for becoming wise?

    It seems to me that to see life whole I must learn a great deal more than I already have learned but I must start with where I presently am. I am convinced that learning new stuff requires three aspects of mind; mentally I must have curiosity, caring, and an orderly mind.

    Understanding is necessary for wisdom. Understanding is a step beyond knowing and is seldom required or measured by schooling. Understanding is generally of disinterested knowledge, i.e. disinterested knowledge is an intrinsic (due to the nature of the self) value. Disinterested knowledge is not a means but an end. It is knowledge I seek because I desire to know it. I mean the term ‘disinterested knowledge’ as similar to ‘pure research’, as compared to ‘applied research’. Pure research seeks to know truth unconnected to any specific application.

    Winston Churchill is my nomine for wise man. He was an accomplished painter, he was a historian with many books to his credit, and he was accomplished broadly in practical intellection as he demonstrated in his political career.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2007 #2


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    Novelist, journalist, futurist and American: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.. Reported on WWII. Then went on to write for the Evening Post. Wrote humour Noir about that war. Social commentary about automation putting the working class out of work and the loss of middle income wage earners. Wrote some famous books like Slaughter House Five concerning the retaliatory bombing of Dresden where he was a prisoner during the UK, US and CDN bomb raids. This included a speculation of what it would be like to be "unstuck in time" (shades of quantum mechanics). His book, Cats Cradle included something he equated with Nuclear Weapons called "Ice Nine" that eventually gets loose and freezes all the H2O in on earth. The guy was a genius and very wise and funny. He was a modern day Mark Twain.


    Mark Twain would be my second choice.

    Ben Franklin being a close 3rd if ranking is at all appropriate when applied to wisdom, spirit and curiousity.
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
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