The Meaning and Importance of Wisdom


 The Meaning and Importance of Wisdom

The word "wisdom" has many meanings, but it all boils down to one thing: knowing what to do in any given situation. You might be wise if you know how to manage your money well, or if you're a comedian that knows the perfect jokes for any occasion. The ancient Greeks saw wisdom as being the ultimate goal of human life — so much so that they believed it was something that could only be attained through a lifetime of teaching and learning in an institution called a "school". It's interesting to think about where we might see wisdom today. But before we can consider the idea of wisdom, we need to consider what it is.

Wise and Sane
Wisdom is like a scale, but the two sides are not equal. On one side you have wise, which usually entails being able to do things that aren't always easy. Nobody is wise in every situation, because in some situations your best option might be something simple. On the other side of the scale you have healthy or sane, which means being able to make decisions that don't involve mental duress. We all know someone who is wise and sane and can advise us on many different topics — our parents, grandparents, teachers, religious leaders — but this doesn't make them wise people. In fact, most of them aren't.

Wise as a Condition
Wisdom can be defined as "the quality of being wise or sensible." It's something you should aspire to, but it's not something that can be bestowed upon you. You can't become wise if you don't learn to think for yourself, or if you don't learn from those who have gone before. This doesn't mean that those who have already achieved wisdom will never teach anyone else — they may teach others through their example. But to become wise, you must first acquire the knowledge and skills that allow one to acquire wisdom through experience.

Wise as an Adjective
The word "wise" can also be used as an adjective. Consider the sentence: My wise father told me to wear socks and shoes if there is snow on the ground. In this case, "wise" is used to describe the father, and not the act of telling his son what to do or wearing socks and shoes in order to avoid frostbite. This use of "wise" might seem strange, but it actually has a precedent in other languages. For instance, in French you could say: "this cheese is very wise", because it's thought to have been aged properly.

What does wisdom entail? The answer depends on who you ask. There are many different schools of thought regarding wisdom. One could say that it's being able to see the big picture, or that it's being able to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. You might also compare it to knowledge, or intelligence.

Some people believe that wisdom comes from careful study and observation, believing that you should spend a lifetime learning, teaching others and becoming wiser (an idea known as the "wisdom of ages"). Others would say that wisdom is the state of being wise while still having more to learn about life. Wisdom is often thought of as some sort of personal attribute one can never truly attain, but as you'll see in this next section, this isn't always true.

Wisdom as a Virtue
Some philosophers would go so far as to say that wisdom is an inherent quality of being human. It's something we're born with, and it's the purpose of life. Even though the definition of wisdom can be debated endlessly, there are still people who believe that it is attainable. One could say that wisdom comes from experience, or from learning from others. The important thing to remember is that it's something you develop over time through learning and teaching — through experience.

Just like intelligence, wisdom has many different definitions; in fact, there are even those who believe that intelligence is nothing more than a very high level of wisdom. The important thing to remember is that you can't become wise if you don't develop the knowledge and skills that allows one to do so. But because of this, wisdom is a state of being — just like happiness and sadness are states of being.

Wisdom as a Condition
The definition of wisdom can be seen in the use of two different words: "wisdom" and "wise." In all contexts, these words refer to the same thing: the condition of being wise. It's not an attribute you can or must possess in order to be called wise, but rather it's something attainable through experience. Some would say that wisdom is something that can only be attained through long periods of life, but again, this isn't entirely true.

In the next section, we'll look at some historical figures that didn't live a long time, but were still wise. You might even be a wise person right now! Maybe you're just not aware of it.

Wisdom as an Adjective
You could also argue that wisdom is an adjective, because it describes a state of being rather than an inherent quality. Wisdom can also be defined as "the quality of being wise," and this is how it's been used throughout history. In fact, the word "wisdom" comes from Old English (Wiseg), which was itself derived from the Latin word sapiens (wise). This might seem a bit odd at first, because wisdom is defined as "the quality of being wise." But that's okay — in other words, the quality we talk about is something that must be acquired over time.

Though it may be difficult to see today, wisdom can be just as physical as intelligence. After all, you likely know people who are stupid or insane.

Wise as a Noun
At some point, wisdom may have also been used as a noun, but this is an informal use of the word and it's not commonly used today. Greek philosopher Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC) used this definition in Plato's Apology , where he described wisdom as the state of knowing what good and evil are. Of course, you could take this to mean that wisdom is an inherent quality of being human, but Socrates never said anything like that. Again, it all depends on how you define the word "wisdom." I tend to think of wisdom as something I can become with time and experience.

Wise as a Condition
You might want to say that wisdom (or the quality of being wise) is something that you can become, but not through any sort of effort or action on your own part. But this is definitely not the case. Wisdom is a condition that everyone knows they should seek after, but few if any people have actually attained it. In fact, there are many who claim to have attained wisdom through their lifetime of learning and experience. Here are just a few examples:

Socrates : This ancient Greek philosopher lived from 470 BC – 399 BC, and was known for his wit and wisdom, which was considered superior to that of other philosophers at the time.


Most people would agree that wisdom is a quality that must be learned and experienced over time. Being wise doesn't mean that you've mastered the laws of nature, or mastered all of Shakespeare's plays. It's simply a state of being one can strive for through study and experience.

Being wise doesn't require that you know everything, or be wiser than anyone else in the world — it just means that you're willing to take advantage of your knowledge, or at least make an effort to learn about all sorts of things because you want to become more knowledgeable (if nothing else).

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