Wisdom Page Updates
This Month's Highlights
Included in this month's issue of the Wisdom Page Updates are:
- Editorial: A Theory of Wisdom (Part II) by Tom Lombardo
- Online Course on the Virtues: Courage
- New Essay: Love: The Greatest Wisdom Virtue by Walter Moss
- West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future
- New Poem: Toward Wisdom by Alan Nordstrom for Cop Macdonald
- Wisdom Research at the University of Chicago - Mindfulness and the Wisdom of the Body
Wisdom Page and Futurodyssey Archives
A Theory of Wisdom (Part II)
In last month's Wisdom Page Updates I presented the first part of my general theory of wisdom. In my effort to distill common ideas from other wisdom thinkers I provided a general definition of wisdom. I highlighted that wisdom has a future-focus; wisdom works toward creating a positive future. Wisdom faces forward. I also highlighted that wisdom involves the desire and capacity to realize the "good life" both for oneself and others. Finally I proposed that "flourishing" provides a succinct way of describing what the good life is. Hence, wisdom facilitates, both for oneself and others, flourishing now and into the future.
After these general introductory points I suggested that wisdom can be understood as a synthesis of a key set of (approximately fifteen) character virtues and capacities. I listed and described last month the first five:
This month I continue with my description of the virtues and capacities of wisdom.
- Self-responsibility and self-control
- Curiosity and the love of learning
- A big picture understanding of reality including a broad temporal consciousness of past and future
- Contemporary knowledge
- Openness and the spirit of adventure
* * * * *
Multi-faceted thinking skills and modes of understandingWise people are thinkers. Psychologists have identified, at the very least, two fundamental and complimentary modes of thinking and human understanding. One form is often described as linear, analytic, and rational; the second form is usually described as relatively instantaneous, holistic, and insightful. Studies seem to indicate that the first form tends to predominate in male and Western thinking, whereas the second form tends to predominate in female and Eastern thinking (though these are just statistical averages). Wisdom involves a balance and synthesis of these two modes of thought -- of logic/reason and insight/intuition. As cognitive psychologists and wisdom thinkers have realized, both forms of thought and understanding have value, and a truly global and gender balanced vision of wisdom for the future needs to incorporate both types of cognition.
Hope, optimism, and positive emotional vitalityNumerous psychological studies demonstrate that a sense of realistic hope and optimism about the future empowers human thinking and behavior. In general, positive emotional vitality enhances imagination, creativity, perception, and approach behavior. Hopeful optimists are more effective at solving practical problems, indeed are more realistic about life's challenges and difficulties. Optimists have a "can do' attitude, which captures an important feature of wise people. Wise people approach problems with a sense of hope and belief that the problems can be solved; wise people are problem solvers, rather than problem deniers or avoiders. Wisdom necessarily involves knowledge in action, and creative, effective action requires hope. Wise people cultivate within themselves and others positive emotional vitality since they are aware that emotional well-being and a hopeful attitude are key features of the good life. Realistic hope also requires courage (one of the key character virtues) in the face of the uncertainty of the future.
Self-awareness, self-actualization, and self-transcendence"Know thyself" is a foundational axiom in the philosophical endeavor. It would seem oxymoronic to say that a wise person was not highly self-aware. Wise people have a deep understanding of themselves, for self-understanding facilitates self-improvement; wise people strive toward ongoing self-improvement. Through self-awareness comes an understanding of how to realize one's potential and talents, and further, through self-awareness one can ascertain the present boundaries of one's psyche and thus open the door to self-transcendence.
Understanding the deep connection of the self, others, and the worldCritical to wisdom is the ability to see oneself in the context of the whole (as Spinoza said "Through the eyes of eternity"), both in one's relationships with other people, as well as one's relationship with nature and the cosmos -- to see that "no man (or woman) is an island" but rather that we are all independent and interwoven with others and the world. This holistic insight (which is part of the big picture understanding within wisdom) supports a sense of appreciation and value for others and the world. Even if we are primarily motivated toward self-interest, a sense of reciprocity with other humans and the world leads one, at the very least, to a state of "enlightened self-interest" where we realize by helping and doing well for others we benefit ourselves. Recognizing reciprocity and interdependency within the world can lead to a sense of the Oneness of it all.
Deep purpose in one's personal lifeAuthentic human happiness and flourishing appear to depend upon having a deep purpose within one's life. Wise people see sense of coherence and overall meaning to their lives. This deep purpose frequently involves some idea, cause, or reality that transcends the individual's self-interest --something beyond oneself worthy of one's devotion and dedication. Deep purpose provides a future focus to consciousness and action - a journey and/or destination for one's life. One could say that the deep purpose for a wise person is the cultivation, development, and application of wisdom.
To Be Concluded Next Month
Online Course on the Virtues: Courage
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
"Courage: the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently."
Continuing our online course on the virtues, this month we study courage
; the virtue found between rashness and cowardice. Courage is the decision to act for the good, especially when it is the most difficult. Exercise your courage in the form of bravery, perseverance, and integrity.
* * * *
The course includes Instructions for contacting the instructor. In addition, the Wikiversity
platform encourages your participation in improving the course. Comments on each page are welcome on the accompanying "Talk"
page, accessed via the "Discuss" tab. We want to hear from you.
If you are interested in participating in a forum of active students to discuss assignments and share your thoughts, please let us know and we will work to provide a space for that. Also, we would like to be able to provide conscientious students a completion certificate at the end of the course, but we have not yet decided how best to assess completion. What are your ideas?
We certainly hope you continue to enjoy this tour of the virtues.
New Essay - Love: The Greatest Wisdom Virtue
by Walter Moss
"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies."
"A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge."
Walter Moss, frequent contributor to The Wisdom Page and Advisory Board member, in this essay argues that love, though not sufficient to completely capture the essence of wisdom, is absolutely essential to wisdom and the most important of all virtues that make up the capacity for wisdom.
West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future
Beginning April 2 (Tuesday) I will be hosting a new philosophical dialogue group that will meet every two weeks. We will be meeting from 6 to 8 pm and, as a start, the location will be at Sun City Grand, Chaparral Center, Navajo Room, 19871 Remington Drive, Surprise, AZ. Locations may vary for later meetings.
The title "Philosophy and the Future" is intended to cover a very broad range of themes and topics, including all the general issues of philosophy, such as the study of wisdom, the philosophy of mind and consciousness, ethics, and cosmology. On the "futures" end of things, included are areas such as the future of science and technology, the future of the human mind, the future of human society and culture, science fiction scenarios about the future, and space travel and exploration. I also envision an intersection, overlap, and cross-fertilization between philosophical and futurist themes, for example, how does philosophy illuminate the future and vice versa.
The format will be short introductions by me on the topic of the day, followed by dialogue and debate with the group as a whole. There will probably emerge threads of discussion across meetings, but people can come to meetings off and on, depending on their schedules.
We are going to begin with the theme "Consciousness and the Cosmos." Having recently finished reading the American philosopher Thomas Nagel's new book Mind and Cosmos, I will start with an overview of this book and his main arguments, and from there we can assess and evaluate his book, and in particular his philosophical views on consciousness within the physical world.
I plan that future meetings will frequently (though not always) take the form of selecting out a new book (in either philosophy or the future) and discussing it. After Nagel's book, I plan to discuss at least the following three additional books this summer: Ray Kurweil's How to Create a Mind, Jim Holt's Why Does the World Exist?, and David Brin's Existence.
There will be a $5.00 nominal charge for attending Salon meetings through the entire remaining spring and summer. If you are interested in attending, you can register online
. If you don't get to registering before attending a meeting, come and we will work something out.
Salon Meetings in April: April 2, 16, and 30th.
Salon Meetings in May: May 14 and 28th.
Email me at email@example.com to find out the specific location for subsequent meetings after our first one. As I mentioned, we could vary locations through the summer.
by Alan Nordstrom for Copthorne Macdonald
If being wise is knowing what is good
And acting in accord with how we should
To bring about what is most valuable,
Then truly such a life were beautiful-
For Goodness, Truth and Beauty reign supreme
In constituting our kind's grandest dream
Of living in accord with what is wise:
That motive we need most to realize
Wisdom Research: University of Chicago
Mindfulness and the Wisdom of the Body
Essays and research reports in this month's issue of
Wisdom Research at the University of Chicago focus on
mindfulness and the wisdom of the body
. One can read the articles and subscribe to the regular newsletter on the website
Wisdom Page Updates:
Newsletters and Archives
Beginning this fall, I began publishing two newsletters: the revitalized and redesigned Wisdom Page Updates and Futurodyssey (the monthly publication of the Center for Future Consciousness). So readers can view earlier issues, both newsletters now have Archive Pages. View the Wisdom Page Updates Archive Page; view the Futurodyssey Archive Page. The reader can subscribe to the Wisdom Page Updates on The Wisdom Page Contact Page; the reader can subscribe to the Futurodyssey newsletter by going to the CFC website.
|That's it for this month: Part II of my virtue theory of wisdom, the virtue of courage, love and wisdom, the new salon on philosophy and the future, a wisdom poem for a wise man, and the study of mindfulness and the wisdom of the body. Thanks for reading the Updates. And thanks to our contributors, Leland Beaumont, Alan Nordstrom, and Walter Moss. |