• Todd Martin
    139
    @jgill Are you suggesting, Gilly, that the wise man doesn’t exist, or that The Mad One’s description of him is false? How would you describe the wise man?
  • jgill
    985
    jgill Are you suggesting, Gilly, that the wise man doesn’t exist, or that The Mad One’s description of him is false? How would you describe the wise man?Todd Martin

    A fictional character. :roll:
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @jgill I can only assume, by your repetition of what you just said, that you believe wisdom not to exist at all, which is really quite remarkable given the longstanding traditions down through the centuries of wise men and their wisdom...

    I’m really curious why you believe this, and how you might defend your opinion.
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    Let me see if I understand what you are saying about wisdom and the wise man. He is needed when our knowledge fails, when we are uncertain as to what is true and false; for example, when the doctors don’t agree on a diagnosis? Is that the sort of situation you are referring to? or the medical researchers are unsure how to interpret their findings? then they ought to call in the wise man to interpret them for them?

    Likewise, when the trainers and dietitians disagree as to how to properly exercise or feed a body, the wise man ought to be called in to set them straight?

    Similarly, concerning the things of the soul, when the judges disagree how they ought to judge and punish or reform the citizenry, the wise man is called in, just as he is when the teachers are not certain what or how to teach, and the politicians are not sure what laws to legislate? Is this the idea of the wise man you are promoting, or something else?
    Todd Martin

    Without trying to answer for @jgill, I don’t think looking for ‘the wise man’ to solve our lack-of-knowledge issues is realistic. Wisdom is demonstrated in collaborative achievement - in the imaginative, understanding and non-judgemental relation between insufficient perspectives - and recognising that no man alone can embody this faculty is as important as seeking it out.
  • jgill
    985
    Without trying to answer for jgill, I don’t think looking for ‘the wise man’ to solve our lack-of-knowledge issues is realistic. Wisdom is demonstrated in collaborative achievement - in the imaginative, understanding and non-judgemental relation between insufficient perspectives - and recognizing that no man alone can embody this faculty is as important as seeking it out.Possibility

    Well, yes, that's what I meant! Admirable work, Possibility. :grin:
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Possibility We’ll, it seems you DID answer for Gilly, Mr. Possible, to judge by his approval of your statement about wisdom and the wise man.

    From what you said about it, it looks like you believe wisdom does indeed exist, but that the wise man is a fiction, as Gilly asserted...

    Is this your position?
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    Wisdom exists as a possibility, yes. It’s ‘something’ to strive for.

    As TheMadFool suggested, what we’re striving for is wisdom in a practical sense - not necessarily knowing the answers, but capable of finding and applying them for the benefit of all. What I think this amounts to - as a beginning - is a commitment to increasing awareness, connection and collaboration.Possibility
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Possibility but you didn’t address the other half, Mr. Possible, of my question: is the wise man a fiction?
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    Let me see if I understand what you are saying about wisdom and the wise man. He is needed when our knowledge fails, when we are uncertain as to what is true and false; for example, when the doctors don’t agree on a diagnosis? Is that the sort of situation you are referring to? or the medical researchers are unsure how to interpret their findings? then they ought to call in the wise man to interpret them for them?

    Likewise, when the trainers and dietitians disagree as to how to properly exercise or feed a body, the wise man ought to be called in to set them straight?

    Similarly, concerning the things of the soul, when the judges disagree how they ought to judge and punish or reform the citizenry, the wise man is called in, just as he is when the teachers are not certain what or how to teach, and the politicians are not sure what laws to legislate? Is this the idea of the wise man you are promoting, or something else?
    Todd Martin

    More or less, yes. The reigning consensus on what a wise person is seems to be that of a go-to person for answers and solutions to our questions and problems respectively. A wise person's trademark ability is that of getting to the heart of an issue without being distracted by incidentals and trivialities and that, to my reckoning, is sometimes an innate capacity and sometimes a skill developed over many years of hard practice.

    Wisdom can be thought of as pseudo-omniscience as a person who has it will come off as all-knowing even when fae isn't...all-knowing.

    It might be worth noting that the Delphic oracle proclaimed Socrates as the wisest person, that even as Socrates was walking the streets of Athens announcing to everybody that all that he knew was that he knew nothing.

    A wise person isn't confined to specific disciplines but has a fair if not complete grasp of all that can be known and the hope is that with such a broad understanding of the world, fae will provide the best possible answer/solution to the questions/problems that the world has to deal with.
    — TheMadFool

    A fictional character.
    jgill

    Possibly. You never know.
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    Possibility but you didn’t address the other half, Mr. Possible, of my question: is the wise man a fiction?Todd Martin

    The definitive ‘wise man’ is a character of the imagination, in necessary relation to the faculties of understanding and judgement. But I think to dismiss it as ‘a fiction’ (ie. not fact) is an error of exclusion, so I advise caution with this evaluation commonly attributed to the term.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @TheMadFool If you were diagnosed by a doctor as having cancer, and wished to get a second opinion, perhaps suspecting that that doctor’s opinion might be in error, who would you go to—another doctor, or a wise man?

    When a judge is unsure how he ought to rule in some case does he consult a wise man, or rather the rulings of other judges in such cases?

    Likewise, if a man is unsure of the status or quality of his own soul, who does he consult? The wise man? Doesn’t he rather go to the therapist or priest?...

    I’m just wondering, O Mad One,...where is the place for your wise man in a world that seems to be sufficiently peopled by human beings already skilled enough in all the arts and sciences?
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Possibility. Let me help you out here, Mr. Possible: what you are trying to say is that wisdom and the wise man truly exist—as ideals: true wisdom can be conceived of, but its ideal or perfection is never encountered in the “real” world—is that what you are saying?
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    Let me help you out here, Mr. Possible: what you are trying to say is that wisdom and the wise man truly exist—as ideals: true wisdom can be conceived of, but its ideal or perfection is never encountered in the “real” world—is that what you are saying?Todd Martin

    Your interpretation doesn’t help me out, Mr Martin - it might, however, convince others to judge the pursuit of wisdom as ‘impossible’, ‘unrealistic’ purposefulness, and dismiss it. I’m not prepared to say that the perfection of wisdom “is never encountered in the ‘real’ world”, because I recognise that the possibility exists, as much as the impossibility also exists. This, for me, is the binary contradiction at the core of existence, the question Shakespeare was alluding to with “To be, or not to be?” You’re free to answer in the negative whenever you choose, but you don’t answer for me.
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    If you were diagnosed by a doctor as having cancer, and wished to get a second opinion, perhaps suspecting that that doctor’s opinion might be in error, who would you go to—another doctor, or a wise man?

    When a judge is unsure how he ought to rule in some case does he consult a wise man, or rather the rulings of other judges in such cases?

    Likewise, if a man is unsure of the status or quality of his own soul, who does he consult? The wise man? Doesn’t he rather go to the therapist or priest?...

    I’m just wondering, O Mad One,...where is the place for your wise man in a world that seems to be sufficiently peopled by human beings already skilled enough in all the arts and sciences?
    Todd Martin

    I don't think there are experts of such caliber that they possess 100% or total knowledge of their respective fields. Add to this the inherent uncertainties in any given field, uncertainties that are, as far as I can tell, a permanent fixture in every imaginable discipline and we wind up with the perfect environment in which wisdom has a major role.

    As I said, wisdom operates in an environment that has, at the very least, one unknown and this description fits all extant areas of human knowledge - our ignorance must be acknowledged - and if so, wisdom becomes an indispensable part of our lives.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Possibility are you saying that wisdom is both possible and impossible?
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @TheMadFool Well, first of all, my question to you did not imply that there is absolute and perfect knowledge in any field. It rather assumed that, when there is uncertainty, the person we seek to give us clarity is not “the wise man”, whoever he is, but rather the wise doctor or judge or whoever specializes; do you not avow this is true?

    Let me ask you personally: who would you go to, having been diagnosed with cancer, for a second opinion—the wise man, or another oncologist?
  • Brett
    3k


    I think you’ve drifted away from the question of the OP.

    “If, as an experiment, we were able to choose one question from a philosophical point of view (the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, existence, values and language), questions like what is moral, why are we here, is there a higher power, is all life equal, and so on, and then having asked the right question, secured the answer, the truth, and made the decision to live by that choice and we then secured a better future for ourselves and the world, what should the question be?

    It’s not a matter of @TheMadFool proving that the wise man is a better choice for the diagnosis of cancer than an oncologist. It’s the idea of you, or anyone interested, in having a go at naming, from a philosophical perspective, what you believe, if it could be instigated or came into being, would contribute to a better future.

    My thoughts were either a higher power or that an objective morality existed. TheMadFool came up with wisdom. He thought, and I was persuaded by his posts, that from wisdom would come morality. That wisdom would come first. He wasn’t talking about a wise man. I think you may have introduced that to the discussion but it’s not really salient. It’s not that there’s just one person that’s wise, it’s that wisdom is everywhere and so all thoughts and decisions based on wisdom would contribute towards a better future.

    I haven’t read all your posts so I don’t know if you came up with your own answer. But I’d be interested to hear what you might think.
  • Manuel
    69
    Going back to the OP: I think the question you are trying to frame assumes that the questions we may find most interesting, must have, by necessity, moral consequences. There was a time when such a question could be framed, especially if one has in mind Classical Greece, in which philosophers saw little difference in asking questions about ethics and then asking about the nature of mathematics, there was a healthy tendency to see all aspects of life as belonging to less specializations than we do today. Of course, this is a generalization of that time, but such a case could be made.

    By now some aspects of our knowledge has advanced so much, one could spend an entire lifetime focusing on a sub-sub specialty in biology or geology, and so on. But then in other topics, namely ethics, the type of questions we ask haven't changed much, in part, because so little is known, in part, because these are hard topics to put to practice too.

    In any case, the question which I'm currently obsessed with would be, putting Kant's specific formulations and suggestions aside, what can be said about "the thing in itself"? I suspect some negative elaborations could be made. But I don't see any connection to ethics, unless you come up with some very strong quasi religious considerations, that would then obscure the whole issue. Interesting experiment nonetheless.
  • Brett
    3k


    OP: I think the question you are trying to frame assumes that the questions we may find most interesting, must have, by necessity, moral consequences.Manuel

    No that’s not the question I trying to frame. It’s not a matter of questions we may find interesting.

    As an example, you might think that we could have a better future if we all understood each other better. Consequently you might think the answer to the question might be language: how it works and how it doesn’t, etc. Through language we gain a better understanding of each other and consequently better laws, education, etc. come about and so contribute to a better future.
  • Manuel
    69

    So it's kind of, what question do I think we should ask ourselves so that we could all be better off, something like that? Because perfection implies something that is usually related to numerical quantities more than qualitative relations, as "quality perfection" is highly variable. As in, I might think that if we asked the question, "should we spend so much time at work?" Is a good question.

    And the reason I think this is so is because we work way too much, and that something like 4 hours or so, a day, would be better for everybody once they realize that much of what we call "work" isn't really creative or productive in any meaningful sense. I'd then say that 4 hours a day of work is perfect, but obviously others would strongly disagree. So I'm not seeing why you'd call it the perfect question.
  • Brett
    3k


    So I'm not seeing why you'd call it the perfect question.Manuel

    But regardless your question wins. "What is the perfect question", if it has an answer, will lead us to the perfect question which by definition will lead us to the best future for ourselves and the world. Good job!khaled
  • Manuel
    69

    Yes, I know. I'm missing something.
  • TheMadFool
    8.4k
    Well, first of all, my question to you did not imply that there is absolute and perfect knowledge in any field. It rather assumed that, when there is uncertainty, the person we seek to give us clarity is not “the wise man”, whoever he is, but rather the wise doctor or judge or whoever specializes; do you not avow this is true?

    Let me ask you personally: who would you go to, having been diagnosed with cancer, for a second opinion—the wise man, or another oncologist?
    Todd Martin

    You're approaching the issue from an academic perspective; wisdom is being looked upon as a course you can choose in a college curriculum just like math or oncology or whathaveyou. I wish that were true - all the world's problems would be solved in the blink of an eye. Under this interpretation wisdom would be a specialized subject like oncology and math and just as there are oncologists and mathematicians we should expect the departments of wisdom to churn out "wisdomologists" or wise people. Only then does your question, "let me ask you personally: would you go to, having been diagnosed with cancer, for a second opinion - the wise man, or another oncologist?" make sense.

    However, this view of wisdom - as a specialized subject like oncology or math - doesn't do justice to its true value as a requirement in every sphere of human activity. What I mean by that is that whether you're a historian, an oncologist, a mathematician, or whatever, you'll need wisdom by your side if you're interested in avoiding silly mistakes and who isn't, right? So, to answer your question as to whom I'll trust with regards to my cancer diagnosis, I'd say not just another oncologist but a wise(r) oncologist if available that is.
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    Possibility are you saying that wisdom is both possible and impossible?Todd Martin

    Yes - I wouldn’t argue against either claim.

    BUT if you choose to live by the truth that perfect wisdom is impossible, then I would argue that you limit your potential.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Brett I apologize for having led the discussion away from the OP. I was mislead by the comments of a couple of the interlocutors and wished to press them further, being uncertain and curious as to what they actually believed about wisdom and the wise man.

    Judging by their most recent posts, I have still more questions to put to them, but I suspect by posing those questions I will only lead the OP farther away from it’s intention.

    Therefore I leave it up to you, the moderator of this thread, to either give me permission to ask these questions, or silence me.
  • Brett
    3k


    First of all there’s no need to apologise. And though I began the OP I’m not the moderator of it. And even if I was I wouldn’t silence you because of your posts. Sometimes we have an idea about something in relation to the OP which we just cannot shake off. If you want to pursue the OP from that point of view then I don’t see a problem. It seems to me that your just digging into a thought you have. Sometimes there seems to be a slight resistance to someone going of on a tangent but that’s the part of the reason I come here, who knows where it might lead?
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Brett Thank you Mr. Brett! You prove yourself to be both a scholar AND a gentleman.
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @TheMadFool Your latest post seems to suggest that you believe that the wise man is not a particular sort of human being, but rather an inherent persona of all those who possess knowledge of a more restricted sort; there is the wise historian or doctor or mathematician, etc. Are we all then wise men of one sort or another, and is wisdom a sort of pan-discipline, unlike the specialized ones, which everyone possesses to a degree more or less?

    Let me offer some examples for you consideration...

    We all sleep, so aren’t we all sleepers? Yet some sleep better than others, in a way that refreshes them for the next day’s wakeful activities, while the unwise sleepers sleep poorly, and are therefore unrefreshed...

    Likewise, aren’t we all eaters? Yet some eat poorly and do not nourish their bodies well, while the wise eaters eat good food and thereby nourish their bodies well and can justly be called wise as regards nutrition...

    Finally, aren’t we all “dental hygienists” in that we know to brush and floss daily and the manner in which to do those things?

    Is this then your idea of the wise man, as a persona applicable to all the different sorts of particular knowledge, rather than a man of exalted nature, who seeks to know the foundation of knowledge in a general sense, like did a Socrates or Machiavelli or Rousseau or Kant or Nietzsche?
  • Todd Martin
    139
    @Possibility Would you agree that wisdom is either possible or impossible, but that it cannot be both?
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    Would you agree that wisdom is either possible or impossible, but that it cannot be both?Todd Martin

    Nope. Wisdom is, in an objective, ontological sense, both possible and impossible. But I can’t relate to wisdom as both in any logical or practical sense. That is, I always feel, think, believe, state or enact an answer to the question one way or the other.

    But I also don’t think the question needs to always be framed by the term ‘wisdom’. In my view, asking whether objective truth, a Higher Power or understanding is possible/impossible are all just different ways to frame this same fundamental question, the answer to which determines existence.

    Perhaps the essence of what we’re questioning is an indeterminate sense of more - calling for attention and effort beyond that of our current conceptual structures.
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