Wisdom vs. Intelligence

Wisdom vs. Intelligence
zig.zag.drag
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Posted Nov 28, 2007 - 7:51 PM:
Subject: Wisdom vs. Intelligence
I was having a debate with a friend the other day about what makes a great leader. I said, above all else, kindness, compassion, and wisdom are traits that will make a great a leader. Of course, he must be smart, but I still value wisdom over intellect. For him, he said he would want a smart leader above all else, and he said that a smart leader would also have the foresight to be able to judge his actions properly. He also asserted that wisdom and intelligence are inseparable, that there is no real difference.

For me wisdom is insight into life, and intelligence is book knowledge. While they can often go hand in hand, I don't think they are the same thing at all. What do you think? How would you define wisdom and intelligence? Can one exist without the other? Are they truly the same thing?
sensabile
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Posted Nov 28, 2007 - 8:16 PM:

We can mean more than one thing by "intelligence". Ask your friend in what sense he is using the word. It should seem obvious to most that simply because you are a capable mathematician or an expert in the literary works of Tolstoy that that does not necessarily make you as a good leader.
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Posted Nov 28, 2007 - 8:50 PM:

Plato had some notoriously crazy ideas about this. Check out The Republic.


Cheers.
jd
zig.zag.drag
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Posted Nov 28, 2007 - 11:42 PM:

sensabile wrote:
We can mean more than one thing by "intelligence". Ask your friend in what sense he is using the word. It should seem obvious to most that simply because you are a capable mathematician or an expert in the literary works of Tolstoy that that does not necessarily make you as a good leader.


I simply used the story about "what would make a great leader" as a lead in to my real question, which is 'What is the difference between intelligence and wisdom?'
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Posted Nov 29, 2007 - 4:57 AM:

zig.zag.drag wrote:
For me wisdom is insight into life, and intelligence is book knowledge.


Both wisdom and intellect are forms of knowledge. Both can serve several more people than the number of people who possess them. But wisdom doesn't require agreement and recognition from so many other people immediately, as the intellect does, in order to serve many people. It is in this way that wisdom differs from intellect I think. To give an example:

A wise Oppenheimer would have said: "I'm not building the bomb". Maybe the Pentagon would have told him "stop acting like a wise guy now and build the damn thing". Maybe even fellow professors wouldn't understand or agree after days of explaining. But with time, it would have been better not to build atomic bombs indeed and not have nuclear arms races. It would have been wiser. Once this knowledge would have become self-evident people would have said it was 'intelligent'. But only then. Many people would have benefited in time therefore, even if none (or few) would have understood right away.

The intelligent Oppenheimer on the other hand said "I can build you a bomb". And he then went on to explain to colleagues, army generals and politicians how this could be done by using intelligent arguments based on mathematics, physics, mechanics, etc. Everyone would have had to agree with his assumptions, his reasoning and his conclusions right then and there, in order to deem the idea "intelligent". And this indeed was what happened. The Manhattan Project required much intelligence, but little wisdom came out of it.

Anyways, this is to say that with wisdom, people can agree with your assumptions, and not with your reasoning and conclusions, as opposed to with intellectual arguments (that are deemed intelligent) where they will agree with everything (before deeming it intelligent). But they will change their minds when the knowledge becomes self-evident in time. Of course, having said this, many people have a tendency to classify certain statements or facts as "wise" and make the wrong gamble. Or sometimes it is just that the time for the fact to become self-evident is extremely long, thus people don't see any knowledge, let alone wisdom in certain assertions, when in fact they might turn out to be just that.

Cordially,
moonlight.

EDIT: P.S: w.r.t to your discussion with your friend about whether wisdom or intellect should be valued more in a leader. I would say wisdom. In Arabic for instance, the word 'wisdom' (hikma) has the same root (HKM) as the words 'government' (hukuma) or 'court house' (mahkama). The word 'intellect' (a'ql) has the same root (A'QL) as words such as 'recognition' (a'qal), or 'appreciation'.

Edited by moonlight on Nov 29, 2007 - 5:05 AM
sensabile
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Posted Nov 30, 2007 - 8:52 AM:

zig.zag.drag wrote:


I simply used the story about "what would make a great leader" as a lead in to my real question, which is 'What is the difference between intelligence and wisdom?'

What do you mean by intelligence, then?

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Posted Nov 30, 2007 - 9:50 AM:

Intelligence is the effective and efficient functioning of thought.: eg. e=mc2

Wisdom is the awareness of the limitation of thought: eg. Who among ye by taking thought can add one inch to his stature?
180 Proof
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Posted Nov 30, 2007 - 12:01 PM:

Wisdom or intelligence. Competence or aptitude. Conflict resolution or problem solving. Limit-recognition or symbol-manipulation. (e.g. judgement or calculation) rolling eyes


Edited by 180 Proof on Nov 30, 2007 - 12:10 PM. Reason: Oh, why the hell not?!
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Posted Dec 6, 2007 - 4:37 PM:

Intelligence is something we have learnt.

Wisdom is inherent to our very being.
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Posted Dec 7, 2007 - 12:34 PM:

Intelligence is whatever is measured by an intelligence test. It's a relative measure of the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.

To have wisdom one would likely use all these capacities to arrive at a complete and unified account of theoretical and practical knowledge that could answer any challenges to its claim to explain the whole world and everything in it. Religion, science and epistemological philosophy are merely metaphysical appearances that provide partial knowledge or provisional heuristics but still fail, in one way or another, to give a complete and efficacious account. Wisdom would actually help us understand things better and provide a comprehensive and coherent explanation of things that will also guide us in how to act as individuals and as members of society. It would not be viewed as "what you or I think is wisdom". Wisdom would be something that everyone would know to be true once they understand the explanations it offered. Anything less than that is not really wisdom in my book.

However, my guess is that most people here will probably think that wisdom in this sense is impossible. Am I wrong?
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