Socrates’ teachings on wisdom are enormouslyvaluable regardless if one agrees with them or not. Because Socrates’ ideaswere very specific, they left room for intelligent discussions that can expand uponhis definitions. Socrates’ ideas primarily aligned with two of the five theories:wisdom as epistemic humility and wisdom as epistemic accuracy. In Plato’s TheApology (20e-23c), Socrates was described as the wisest individual and hedenied this portrayal as he was aware of too many wise individuals within thecommunity. He proceeded to talk with the other wise individuals, which led himto realize those with immense wisdom are not often claiming they are one of thewise.
This revelation led Socrates to believe that wisdom is directlyassociated with humility. While I do agree with Socrates’ definitions, my opinionon the topic tends to relate to the hybrid theory the most. Because the hybridtheory includes factual and theoretical knowledge, knowing how to live well, successat life and living well, and limiting one’s amount of unjustified beliefs, Ifeel as though it expands on Socrates’ ideas as if they were basic foundationsfor wisdom. I believe not one person is all-knowing and wise. Everyone willhave faults; it is identifying, embracing, and potentially overcoming thesefaults by using their knowledge that truly gives a person wisdom. However, itis the knowledge one possesses and implements in order to overcome any issuesthat dissipates the recipe to a good life.
One must have the capability to thinkfor themselves without the direct guidance of a mentor, as this allows the individualthe knowledge necessary to live well on their own (excluding physical/mental disabilitiesand the social status they were born into). Finally, having few unjustified beliefsis important as it portrays an overall comprehension on numerous aspects necessaryto form an opinion and come to a conclusion. Given the immense change of cultureand beliefs, I feel as though Socrates would mostly agree with the reasonings asto why I define wisdom the way that I do. Different Views ofWisdomMy definition of wisdom has changed slightlyfrom the start of this philosophy class until now. I began taking philosophyclasses in elementary school which ultimately helped me form my assessment onwhat wisdom is. Prior to beginning this class, my definition of wisdom was quitesimple; everyone has their own version of wisdom, meaning some individuals aremore gifted at particular specialties than others, and that it cannot bejustified as being solely based on knowledge. After reading pieces ofliterature to include Plato’s Phaedo and The Apology, I feel as though my priorunderstanding was still pertinent as the class’ teachings only expanded upon it.My newly-shaped definition of wisdom would be an innate characteristic thatharmoniously utilizes knowledge and experience in order to work for the greatergood and ultimately benefit others.
Many of Socrates’ teachings expand uponthis idea by presenting theories of what wisdom is and what wisdom is not. For instance,Socrates was well-known as being a wise individual, yet he was quick to denythe label he was given. He truly believed others were in the wrong because heknew of wise men, and did not feel as though he was comparable. By definition,this is the theory of humility.
In addition, Socrates believed every individualis only as wise as their awareness of their ignorance. Similar to Socrates, I findthat individuals that claim they have immense knowledge are often boisterous abouttheir reputation, which likely influences the people around them to believethey know what they are teaching.How I Define WisdomPhilosophy has often been defined as the loveof knowledge or the pursuit of wisdom.
Merriam-Webster provides severaldefinitions for wisdom: having the ability to discern inner qualities andrelationships, or having insight; having a good sense, specifically ofjudgment; a generally accepted belief, challenges what has become acceptedwisdom among many historians; accumulated philosophical or scientific learning,or knowledge; a wise attitude, belief, or course of action; and the teachingsof the ancient wise men (Merriam-Webster, 2018). While the dictionary providesseveral definitions for wisdom, there are innumerous ways in which they can beexpanded upon, thus creating copious definitions for wisdom. There are severalmajor ideas within the Western philosophical tradition that focus on differentapproaches to understanding wisdom. Individuals with backgrounds in philosophy,such as spiritual leaders, poets, novelists, philosophers, and psychologists,generally agree with the following collections: wisdom as epistemic humility,wisdom as epistemic accuracy, wisdom as knowledge, hybrid theory, and wisdom asrationality (Ryan, 2013).
The various theories of wisdom are all plausible eventhough they are different from one another. The humility theory, for instance,expresses wisdom is often found in individuals that are not aware of their own,personal wisdom. They may believe there are others that are more capable thanthey are, and may be surprised to learn they are often portrayed as beingcomparable to their mentors. The theory of accuracy details wisdom as notnecessarily constantly being correct, but knowing when oneself is eithercorrect or incorrect. In other words, according to this theory, an individualis aware of their knowledge and does not pretend to know more than he actuallydoes.
The theory of knowledge is comparable to how wisdom might be defined bymost people today; wise people are very smart, intelligent individuals. Thistheory requires intelligence as a necessary condition, while the previous twotheories did not. The hybrid theory combines all of the aforementionedtheories; one must portray various aspects, including pure knowledge, success,few unjustified beliefs, and living well. The last aspect has created criticismbecause every individual has the potential to be wise, regardless of their lifeconditions. Wisdom could arguably be compared to the concept of beauty; everyindividual has an opinion on the necessary foundations.
For instance, while oneperson may define wisdom as having the ability to strategically balanceintellect with problem-solving skills, another person may define wisdom as pureknowledge one possesses and what they do with it. The combinations arevirtually endless. What is Wisdom?