ADF Dedicant Path: Nine Virtues (Wisdom)
Wisdom is defined in Our Own Druidry as,
Good judgement, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response.
Merriam-Webster defines wisdom as,
- accumulated philosophic or scientific learning (knowledge)
- ability to discern inner qualities and relationships (insight)
- good sense (judgement)
- generally accepted belief
2. wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3. the teachings of the ancient wise men
or, more simply as,
:knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life
:the natural ability to understand things that most people cannot understand
:knowledge of what is proper or reasonable: good sense or judgement
Of these three definitions, the last one is closest to how I would define wisdom myself. ADF’s definition embodies the ultimate outcome of possessing wisdom, but is too simplified to stand alone as one. However, since ADF encourages people to develop their own understanding of the virtues, this simplified definition is best to that end.
Ironically, Merriam-Webster’s full definition leaves too much open to misunderstanding. Possessing knowledge is not necessarily indicative of wisdom, though philosophic knowledge is likely to be. The second and third parts of the full definition define the word with itself, more or less. We need the definition of wisdom in order to define a wise attitude or a wise man, at least as far as a dictionary context is concerned. Outside of this context, wisdom tends to be something than is easier to recognize in someone than to define in-and-of-itself, though the simplified definition does a pretty good job of it.
I view wisdom very much in the same was as the Romantic poets viewed philosophy. Friedrich Schlegel said of philosophers,
“One can only become a philosopher, not be one. As soon as one
thinks one is a philosopher, one stops becoming one.”
Similarly, one can only become wise, not be wise. Although some amount of wisdom seems to come naturally to some people (especially to those whom we call “old souls”), life experiences continue to provide us with opportunities for more. To shun these opportunities under the pretext of having already become wise is to become unwise.