Sunday, September 16, 2007

Integrity can be taught, can wisdom?

I ran across this recently, saved it for myself, and finally decided it was worth sharing.


posted by Frank Pasquale

Can wisdom be taught? A growing field of "wisdom studies" in psychology suggests that it can. I was reminded of Anthony Kronman's The Lost Lawyer when reading some of these findings:

Certain qualities associated with wisdom recur in the academic literature: a clear-eyed view of human nature and the human predicament; emotional resiliency and the ability to cope in the face of adversity; an openness to other possibilities; forgiveness; humility; and a knack for learning from lifetime experiences. And yet as psychologists have noted, there is a yin-yang to the idea that makes it difficult to pin down. Wisdom is founded upon knowledge, but part of the physics of wisdom is shaped by uncertainty. Action is important, but so is judicious inaction. Emotion is central to wisdom, yet detachment is essential.

Kronman similarly emphasizes a balance between "sympathy and detachment" in the ideal lawyer.

A recent essay by Michael Ignatieff on his mistakes as an academic reminded me of the importance (and elusiveness) of wisdom.

Continue reading "Wisdom"

Posted by Frank Pasquale at 09:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Read the original (and the rest of the post) at


Anonymous said...

The ability to have some degree of dettachment as mentioned is something that I think is an important element in wisdom. I see people who may have good sense in some ways, but do not seem to separate themselves out from overly emotional situations much of the time making them think in more black and white terms than I think wisdom would warrent. While wisdom is a gift that some have such as Solomon and Mormon, I would think that people can benefit from training. I believe that you can help people be more creative as well.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if it is just a natural part of maturation, but I do feel a greater ability to detatch myself from situations than I did when I was younger. I also think that I am wise in some areas. This is a paradox as in the realm of my ocd, I am not able to distinguish some things that others would find very illogical though at times I do better than others to that end. The fact that I will post unrelevant comments online belies perhaps my analytical abilities. After the fact, I wonder why I said such a thing in such a place. Having things bottled up and also being a little manic at times can lend itself to such discourse. But if people were to really know me, I think they would be surprised at how very normal I am in so many ways. And my mind used to be bouncing around with thoughts a lot like a pin ball machine. Oh, the beautiful drug like state of mania! But some of the thoughts were wise. Creative people tend to be on the manic side of things so mania is not all bad. I think one of the main reasons I write poems is because I would have thoughts at times that I wanted to share and no real outlet in ordinary conversation generally. You can't generally skip from the weather to a thought. In poetry, I can share philospophies that I have. Being online in general has given me ample opportunity to share my thoughts as well as taking on others' thoughts for size. I don't have all the answers in how one can teach wisdom or gain such.

Anonymous said...

Well, I like to think that I have something to offer or "bring to the table." I also enjoy the give and take as people discuss both sides of an issue. I learn and gain from others and appreciate away to have an extention of my limited experience base through them.

Just as I like to believe that life is not random and meaningless, I like to believe that I am not worthless and that someone might actually like what I have to say at times. And some people have me pretty convinced that they do like to hear what I have to say as they have crossed the threshold of what I consider being patronizing.

One of the things that I like to think about a lot is that we should not write anybody off in life and ever minimize their experience, thoughts, or contributions. Just because a person is not able to articulate what they feel does not mean that they do not feel deeply. Also, I find it interesting how people who may not do well in school and may even be slow can drive and take care of a house and children and do a whole variety of things that are beyond the scope of what I am able to do even without my ocd.