Philosophia, ( Philosophy) was in the original Latin term, defined as the love of wisdom. Today there are many more threads, (more than can be named here) in areas, such as the philosophy of politics, philosophies of various sciences and as an academic discipline, the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, of reality and existence; this last one is huge and I question whether a definition of it, or for it, can be fixed. By their own place within existence, the various wisdoms must surely wax and wane, change their nature and be constantly redefined.

In Malmesbury this year a festival of Philosophy was held. It has been suggested that there is a lack of wisdom today, that there should be a drive to raise the profile of philosophical study amongst people. Perhaps a festival is one method of doing it. When reporters obtained popular local thought on the general topic, a few people admitted to not knowing what philosophy is, a larger number made a stab at an answer, some expressed disinterest. Those making an attempt to define their understanding of the subject gave varied answers, and under the huge umbrella of all the philosophies, none, it seemed to me, could have been wrong.

So, where does that leave us when trying to determine how much wisdom there truly is around us today? Who is to determine whether there is a lack of wisdom, or to measure how much wisdom there is. What acceptable measures could be used? It appears to me, the very nature of philosophy, esoteric as it can be, is tied up with subjectivity, and determining measures to measure wisdom is unlikely to be entirely successful, (if at all) because the discussion would in all likelihood be embroiled in endless philosophical debate.



  1. Can anyohe presume ‘to know’ the nature of wisdom? Is the perception of what ‘is wise’….synonomous with the ‘nature’ of wisdom? 🙄
    What sprang to mind…something attributed to Socrates:
    “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” 🙂

  2. Fascinating. I’ve long thought that knowledge and education do not necessarily include wisdom – and neither does philosophy, taken on its own.

    Wisdom is accessible to and by all sorts and conditions of people, educated or not.

    Do you want to have a stab at a definition?

  3. Would you want to define wisdom, create another etymological source? I quite like the take on it from Socrates kindly provided by Bushka.

    I also find much to commend in your own thoughts. There is a lot to agree with. Would philosophy end there on the point, or begin there?

  4. Good on Malmsbury – why not a festival of philosophy to encourage deep thinking ? It cannot harm and judging by the responses of people interviewed it can only do good 🙂

    I like the Socrates quote !


  5. I am wondering which came first, chicken or egg … did people notice in how others were, what they said, what they did, a quality which came to be known as ‘wisdom’? In other words, is the recognition of wisdom not only universal and completely regardless of education, but perhaps something more visceral?

    Or was the category created, and now we look for people and ideas which fit the category?

    To know that we know nothing may be wise, but how do we know – is it a sufficient description?

  6. I think Socrates was spot on!

    Who is to judge whether something is being deeply thought about and if the thoughts deeply or otherwise are of any consequence? Being able to think at any level is a good start. I have yet to come to some conclusive thought about thinking for thinking’s sake.

  7. I personally thought the comment made about the lack of wisdom indicated arrogance and a lack of wisdom in the individual making the statement.

    We will all have a variation of experiences to colour our views to educate our lives, irrespective of formal education. Some have a tendency to be visceral because of their own characteristics. Others may not have such an abundance of it and rely therefore, on various structures and constructs.

    The description of wise, sufficient or otherwise….what is it to be? Does wisdom lend itself to all types of life work and living? Who or what will recognise whatever arises as an element of wisdom or, to be wisdom? Is being clever wise?

  8. No, being clever is not the same as being wise.

    Maybe the term ‘visceral’ isn’t the best, but I’m not sure. I was meaning that people in most societies seem to recognise those amongst them who are ‘wise’, however they define that. I have in mind people in Nigerian villages whom we knew, with very little education, but on whose ‘wisdom’ many relied.

    But if I try and define it, I have a feeling it will be like the proverbial soap in the bath – slippery!

  9. I agree with you, being clever is not the same as being wise. There are many received wisdoms, and I wonder if the developments of all the philosophical subjects is a reflection of received wisdoms.

    I like the Nigerian example you give. It is particular and specific. I have seen people who you might describe in similar terms in our own society who would have been consulted for their ability or abilities to consider appropriately in one, some or many areas of life.

    Now, as for soap in the bath versus wisdom, is that a philosophical analogy?

  10. Interesting question. I am not suitably qualified to answer that in an academic form. Categorisation there is, as far as I can see, by virtue of all the sectors called philosophy of this that and the other. Whether the wisdoms are reflections is a large debate and would require an deal of analysis.

    It has been suggested that the original definition of philosophy has little influence today on the philosophies that are grappled with now.

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