Wisdom in Different Cultural Perspectives


 Wisdom in Different Cultural Perspectives

Many cultures have wisdom practices that have been passed through generations and are still practiced today. This blog post discusses some of these wisdom practices and what they mean.

This blog post will discuss how there has been the holistic as well as a reductionist view in different cultural perspectives on wisdom. The authors will also talk about how the Western Philosophical tradition tries to reduce all knowledge down to science, which is not necessarily true because it cannot hope to capture all knowledge in one discipline. To further explain this point, there will be an example of a wise person from a different culture who demonstrates this holistic view of being wise above any particular discipline or skill that he or she knows.

There have been different perspectives on the meaning of wisdom and what being a wise person is. Some cultures such as Native American tribes, think being a wise person is having a big enough heart to understand others and showing respect for them. They also think that one way to show respect is by listening and considering each other before speaking. Native Americans also take their culture seriously because they take pride in their spiritual beliefs, family history, traditions, and customs. This makes them look at life with a holistic viewpoint. All aspects of their culture should be taken into account when making decisions because they believe it puts everyone into balance (Williams & Taylor, 2015).

Some other cultures with a holistic view of wisdom include African and Asian tribes. For native Africans, they think that being wise means having the ability to understand the world around them. They also think it is important to know yourself and others as well as knowing life itself. Another example of an African proverb about wisdom is "when you get to the top of the ladder, you forget why you climbed" (Shakur, 2012). This implies that there comes a time when we forget where we came from and why we do what we do. Therefore, it is important to always be humble in life so that you will never lose sight of who you are and where you came from which keeps us grounded (Williams & Taylor, 2015).
Kwashiorkor is an example of a disease some African children go through that can be caused by being deprived of nutrition.The disease has shown that without proper nutrition, the body will break down and lose weight. This means that if children do not get proper nutrition, they can become weak and break down in their bodies. They don't keep their bodies from being wiry and weak. During this ordeal, children used to starve because they did not have enough food to eat or drink (Williams & Taylor, 2015).
To make sure they did not die from this, their parents would take advantage of the conditions to make sure the children got enough food as well as clean water so they could stay alive. This is an example of a holistic view on wisdom: from the experience, the knowledge is passed down so the same situation does not occur again. Also, parents who experienced this can now have healthier children so they do not get Kwashiorkor. This is an example of how people with a holistic view of wisdom also look at life in a scientific way; their culture influences what they do and how they think about strategies to make the best out of situations.

In contrast to this other cultures have taken a more reductionist approach. Some cultures such as those in Europe, believe that being wise requires certain skills and knowledge such as "knowing yourself, knowing others" (Williams & Taylor, 2015). For example, Europeans believe it is important to have knowledge of history, science, and mathematics. In the Western philosophical tradition this idea has come to fruition as people have suggested that all knowledge should be reduced down to science. To further explain this point, there are some scholars who say that the wisdom of the Greeks does not look at life holistically because their culture was not big on groupthink. If Einstein had taken the advice of another scholar and did not try out his own ideas in a class where he thought there would be competition about who had the best idea, Einstein would never have become a famous scientist (Williams & Taylor, 2015).

There are also numerous philosophers who agree with reductionist views of wisdom such as Aristotle. Aristotle believed that wisdom was attained through having knowledge of a range of subjects such as the physical world, ethics, aesthetics, and politics. In the Western tradition, this idea is prevalent because people are not supposed to just focus on one specific discipline but rather focus on a variety of them so you can be well rounded (Williams & Taylor, 2015).

A great example that will demonstrate this reductionist approach to wisdom is an excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay titled Self-Reliance. In this essay he says "trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string" (Emerson, 1841). This quote talks about how in order to be wise you have to trust yourself and those around you know best. It also stands for self-reliance because if you rely on everyone else, you are denying your ability to reach your own goals and dreams. As a result, you cannot get as far in life as you want.

Another example of an Eastern proverb that illustrates this holistic view is "The wise man avoids quarrels" (Shakur, 2012). This is a simple idea about wisdom to help people remember the importance of keeping peace and harmony in their lives. The argument goes that if everyone is seen as a whole individual with an identity then no one would jeopardize another person’s life or complain about something small if they feel personally wronged (Williams & Taylor, 2015).
The wise person in the proverb is saying that everyone has feelings and it is important to keep the peace with other people so they would not be insulted or angered when you do things that are in dispute.

Wisdom is linked to many different fields of study such as psychology, neurology, and cognitive science. These studies seek to understand wisdom from both philosophical and scientific perspectives. For example, philosophy looks at wisdom from a more holistic view by emphasizing the importance of embracing challenges by making decisions based on experience and knowledge while the scientific approach takes a reductionist view by looking at how wisdom can be isolated into one particular factor (Williams & Taylor, 2015). As a result, philosophers look at wisdom from an overarching view by focusing on one’s whole life while science looks at wisdom as an aspect that can be studied and measured.

One way of looking at this is through the lens of developmental psychology. According to studies in longitudinal research, wisdom increases over time alongside cognitive development (Fuerst, Toth, Velozo-Farley, & Baltes, 2011). This conclusion is based on the fact that there are certain moments in life that encourage development of competence including being comfortable with failures and having a sense of humor (Williams & Taylor, 2015). The theories about how wisdom develop can be seen through Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development. In this theory, it is believed that during childhood and adolescence individuals are constantly progressing from one state of cognitive development to another. This theory suggests that there are four different stages of cognitive development including sensorimotor development (0-1 years), preoperational development (1–7 years), concrete operational development (7–11 years), and formal operational development (11+ years) (Williams & Taylor, 2015).

From these various stages of cognitive development, it can be argued that certain experiences facilitate increases in competence thus leading to more wisdom. For example, when children go through the sensorimotor stage they learn the world around them through observation and exploration which allows them to learn how things work.

Conclusion: The development of wisdom depends on cognitive development. Wisdom changes as it relates to age which is also related to the school of thought (holistic vs reductionist) one considers when developing a definition of wisdom.

Wisdom may be associated with certain dispositions, skills, and manners of behaving. It may also be seen as the following:

"The Virtues Project" is a group that "seeks to promote research and educational activities at the intersection of virtues, character strengths and positive emotions." This group has identified 24 character strengths that span both positive psychology and virtue-based ethics; they are defined as "positive traits", "constructs possessing multiple dimensions", and "leveled traits".

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post