The first Characteristic of Wisdom

Speaking of wisdom, perhaps it would be good to review four characteristics that will help us to distinguish the kind of knowledge that it is. I do but merely transcribe from the fading memory of a certain lecture these humble notes:

Let us only examine one of these characteristics today.

First is wisdom something practical or speculative? And here we do not mean speculative in the sense of “speculation” (as in the art of losing one’s money in the stock market). We mean, rather, speculative in the root meaning of the Latin word ‘speculo, speculare’ which means ‘to look.’

Wisdom is not practical knowledge and we might guess this from two signs.

First wisdom is birthed from wonder and wonder is not a practical thing.Take note:

Twinkle Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are!


Twinkle Twinkle little star how I want to figure out how to make money from you!

Second, consider how those who call themselves lovers of wisdom- philosophers- are generally not very practical people (with the exception of a few, and – by the way- I, being far too humble, do not claim to be  philosopher, except in a very general sense.) In the generations of men it is common to see something like the following:

A very practical father who may be a carpenter or a skilled trades person works to make a better life for his children. He wants to give them the education that he never had.

His son perhaps goes to college and learns the art of business, or perhaps he even becomes a doctor or an attorney or something else. He is consequently even more successful than his father.

He in turn has some children some of whom turn themselves towards the pursuit of entirely useless things like art or dance or acting or even- and some might say this is the most useless- the improvement of the mind for its own sake.

I think this is a pretty common experience. It takes three generations to produce a philosopher. I suppose some people might see this progression as rather a devolution (or a digression?). It seems to proceed from men standing up and working to the fellow sitting down and thinking. What does the sitting man have to show for his work. Nothing!

And in all likelihood the so called homo sapiens et sedens will have children who will be penniless and therefore have to return to very difficult labor in the fields or shops or wherever.

Nonetheless, we maintain that wisdom is speculative.





About marklangley

Presently, the founding Headmaster of Our Lady of Walsingham Academy in Colorado Springs (see www., former headmaster and Academic Dean at The Lyceum (a school he founded in 2003, see Mark loves sacred music and Gregorian Chant and singing with his lovely wife, Stephanie, and their children.
This entry was posted in classical education, Liberal Arts, truth for its own sake, Wisdom and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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