Archive for April 16th, 2021

Wisdom Is A Matter Of Wealth And Taste

April 16, 2021

Wisdom? Wisdom is relative. Wisdom in a lion is not wisdom in a chimp. In either case, it is wise to listen to the forest. Wisdom for a Chinese Communist is not wisdom for a true democrat. Wisdom in autocrats may be to be reminded always, that democracies have the intelligence of the many, which is greater than the intelligence of the one, however great the one is deemed to be. And that the fury of the many is always greater than the fury of the one.

Wisdom defines our species, Homo Sapiens. Wisdom, weaponized, is how we conquered the biosphere (give and take the occasional microbe). “Sapiens” comes from sapere “to taste, have taste, have a flavor,” from Proto Indo-European root sep- “to taste, perceive“. The wise are creatures of greater wealth in taste. Mussels only taste the sea, we taste the universe. There is no wisdom without the wealth of taste, and the wealthier in taste, and perception, the greater the wisdom. Diversity of input brings greater intelligence in animals and humans. But to leave mental space to input, one needs to be open to perception, and, in particular, to listening to others… and the universe.

However, we live in an age when, because of a lag in understanding and legislation, social networks fanaticize participants by feeding them mostly what they have an inclination towards and exponentiating on that tendency they themselves enhance, and feed. In other words encouraging participants to listen to themselves ever more. This is exponentiating intellectual fascism, and the opposite of wisdom, which gets greater, the more it maximizes the wealth of variegated tastes it is exposed to.  An accompaniment to this fascization of thought is virtue signalling [1]. Virtue signalling signals that one puts appearances above debate. But debating (even with oneself) is how thinking is elaborated and finally happens. Thus virtue signalling, as old as empires, is in contradiction with wisdom, the fruit of debates, and the essence of humanity… Now, of course, contradicting wisdom only help fascist empires…

This said, new wisdom, not previously culturally generated, then crystallizes into being by retreating to the proverbial desert or mountain top, re-abstracting what new perceptions may all mean in new logic. Being open to perceiving the world is one thing. To improve the world by contributing our inner mental world, new and improved, logically and emotionally, is the final step which concretizes greater cultural wisdom.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”- US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Holmes fought all the important battles of the US Civil War as a youngster, and then, following his father, enrolled in Harvard Law School. Holmes, one of the few Justices ever viewed as a scholar held that: “The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.”Indeed, logic is nothing else, but experience.

Want wisdom? Perceive maximally, then refine the logic.

Patrice Ayme

***

Socrates was supposedly humble, but in truth, he absolutely was not. No towering thinkers can ever be humble. because if they were, they won’t tower. Wisdom is not saying one is not wise, it is saying that wisdom is a work in progress, yet most visible to the wise.

Note for conventional thinkers of reduced type: English-speaking philosophers opine that wisdom is a matter of knowing what is fundamental and then living accordingly. Professional philosopher Robert Nozick claimed:

Wisdom is an understanding of what is important, where this understanding informs a (wise) person’s thought and action.” This is saying nothing: what is important for a Nazi or a viper, is not what is important for a conventional humanist. What is important for a head hunter is not what is important for the anthropologist studying him. The question is how to determine what is important better than those who are more stupid did.

***

Note for followers of Rolling Stones: In “Sympathy For The Devil“, Lucifer (Lux-Fer, light-bearing) is presented as a “man of wealth and taste”… Right on target!

***

[1] Spanish historian Francisco Veiga argued that “fascization” characterized the ascent of Franco. So I was not the only one to invent the concept.


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