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Is there a path to wisdom?


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#1    coberst

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 06:32 PM

Is there a path to wisdom?

How can I know what I do not know?  How can I trace that boundary between knowledge and ignorance?

In the dialogue “Apology” Plato writes about Socrates while in the dungeon just before drinking the hemlock that the citizens of Athens condemned him to be executed.

In the dungeon shortly before drinking from the hemlock cup Socrates spoke to his followers. He spoke about the accusations against him at the trial. He said that the sworn indictment against him was “Socrates is guilty of needless curiosity and meddling interference, inquiring into things beneath Earth and in the Sky…”

Socrates further adds that he is accused of teaching the people of Athens, to which Socrates vehemently denies that he is a teacher. He points out that in matters of wisdom he has only a small piece of that territory; the wisdom that he does have is the wisdom not to think he knows what he does not know. Socrates conjectures that he has the wisdom to recognize the boundary of his present knowledge and to search for that knowledge that he does not have. “So it seems at any rate I am wiser in this one small respect: I do not think I know what I do not.”

For Socrates a necessary component of wisdom is to comprehend what one is ignorant of.

Am I wise?  Do I know what I am ignorant of?  I certainly know that I am ignorant of astronomy and music.  There are many things about which it is obvious to me that I am ignorant of.  Are there things about which I am not even aware of my ignorance?  Are there matters about which I think I am knowledgeable of but which I am, in fact, ignorant of?

When I ask myself these questions I become conscious of a great number of things about which I am ignorant.  Does this mean I am like Socrates in this matter?  I do not think so.  Socrates is speaking about two types of ignorance about which most people are unconscious of.  

I think that Socrates is speaking of our ‘burden of illusion’.  People are unconscious of the superficiality of much that they think they know and they are unconscious of a vast domain of knowledge that is hidden from the non critical thinker.


The uncritical mind has no means for discovering these illusions.  CT (Critical Thinking) is the keystone for discovering these illusions.  The Catch-22 here is how can one develop a critical mind when they are deluded into thinking they have a critical mind?  

When our educational system has not taught our citizens how to think critically how can our citizens ever pull themselves out of this deep hole of illusion?


“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”—Mark Twain

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#2    Virtual Particle

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 11:49 PM

Recently I posted a legend that was taught to me in which, the conclusion formed regarding possessions by demons (like in the movie Exorcist). Is the result not of some demon which has somehow escaped Hell and is terrifying poor human but rather, a very terrestrial parasite. This very small animal makes his way to the brain where it attaches itself and begins feeding. Certain chemicals in the brain is what it can metabolize while others are in fact poisonous, so by some means (probably by releasing some of its own chemicals) the human brain reacts, by engaging in the behaviors, consistent with what is often referred to as demon possessions.

Remove the parasite and the only thing that has changed is that the person is no longer afflicted but these behaviors which, are often defined under the context of being paranormal are inherent to the human, not the
Parasite. Being "possessed by a demon" causes death and what the exorcist does essentially is create a condition in which the brain generates other chemicals which are poisonous to the parasite. S/he does this by taking the persons mind off the effect cause by the parasite. Today we know of one parasite that actually is very difficult to treat using modern methods the idea that one or two exist which can defy modern forma of treatment is not absurd. If correct this means that what we understand as paranormal abilities is inherent, the question now being how to develop this without vomiting pea soup and insisting that what is bad about our religions; that in Hell some can get out and when they do, they terrify people.

When looking at distribution patterns as well as identifying familial patterns with respect to the allegations those individuals can be possessed by humans? It is apparent that the cause could potentially be some kind of parasite.

Beyond this I am of the opinion that each of us are a part of some very elaborate and complex puzzle. We each have our own individual path to wisdom and to achieve this state requires focus.

Any thoughts?




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#3    Leonardo

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 04:50 AM

coberst on May 7 2009, 07:32 PM, said:

Is there a path to wisdom?


Yes, but you'd be a fool to take it.


In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

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#4    coberst

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Posted 10 May 2009 - 10:14 AM

In the summer of 48 my older brother told me that if I wanted to play high school football I had to ‘get ready’.  In his terms, ‘getting ready’ meant running to get in condition for the rigors of football practice.

In the spring of 09 I want to begin the quest for wisdom.  How do I ‘get ready’ for becoming wise?

Starting with the definition of wisdom as “seeing life whole” seems to be as good a place to begin as I can think of.  How do I get ready to see life whole?

It seems to me that to see life whole I must learn a great deal more than I already have learned but I must start with where I presently am.  I am convinced that learning new stuff requires three aspects (a position facing a particular direction) of mind; mentally I must have curiosity, caring, and an orderly mind.

I claim that curiosity and caring are necessary conditions for understanding.  Understanding is a far step beyond knowing.  I will not examine a matter for the purpose of understanding it unless I am curious about it.  I must care enough about the matter to do the intellectual work necessary to understand.  

Understanding is a step beyond knowing and is seldom required or measured by schooling.  Understanding is generally of disinterested knowledge, i.e. disinterested knowledge is an intrinsic (due to the nature of the self) value. Disinterested knowledge is not a means but an end. It is knowledge I seek because I desire to know it. I mean the term ‘disinterested knowledge’ as similar to ‘pure research’, as compared to ‘applied research’. Pure research seeks to know truth unconnected to any specific application.

Understanding is often difficult and time consuming and the justification is not extrinsic (outside cause) but intrinsic.

Questions for consideration:
Is caring necessary for understanding?  I think so.
What is ‘understanding’?
Is curiosity necessary for knowing? I think so.
Is curiosity necessary for understanding? I think so.
Is a knowledge of history required to ‘see life whole’? Absolutely!!
Is difficulty our duty?  I think so.






#5    Lt_Ripley

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 02:41 AM

there's one path ..... you live. you'll gain it as you are capable of.


#6    coberst

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 06:59 AM

Does Winston Churchill qualify as a good example of a man of wisdom?  Definitely!

I think that there are at least three forms of intellection: textual intellection is what we do when we reason in text form, artistic intellection is reasoning in artistic form, and practical intellection is what we do in our day-to-day living.

I think that one must acquire a significant degree of understanding in each of these three forms of intellection to qualify for the distinction of “seeing life whole”.

Winston was an accomplished painter, he was a historian with many books to his credit and he was accomplished broadly in practical intellection as he demonstrated in his political career.

I claim that curiosity and caring are necessary conditions for understanding.  Understanding is a far step beyond knowing.  I will not examine a matter for the purpose of understanding it unless I am curious about it.  I must care enough about the matter to do the intellectual work necessary to understand.  

Understanding is a step beyond knowing and is seldom required or measured by schooling.  Understanding is generally of disinterested knowledge, i.e. disinterested knowledge is an intrinsic (due to the nature of the self) value. Disinterested knowledge is not a means but an end. It is knowledge I seek because I desire to know it. I mean the term ‘disinterested knowledge’ as similar to ‘pure research’, as compared to ‘applied research’. Pure research seeks to know truth unconnected to any specific application.

Understanding is often difficult and time consuming and the justification is not extrinsic (outside cause) but intrinsic.




#7    Virtual Particle

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 06:21 PM

Understanding history in relation to developing wisdom is important. There is of course the issue of who wrote the history, the fact that certain events in history are not necessarily public or actually known and that meaning can and is subject to variations in relation to any particular cultural interpretation. The ability to discern realistically to me is probably what is most important as well as not taking yourself too seriously

Any thoughts?


Time is a form of communication
Consciousness transcends all states
that can be perceived as matter
Matter communicates its existence
to consciousness through time        
Man is infinite
God is more
Black Hole Creates Spectacular Light Show

#8    PerVirtuous

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 07:13 PM

I think that there is a distinct difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the symbolic representation of understanding. Understanding itself is not symbolic. Wisdom is the practical ability to use understanding.

The brain is a complicated set of independent but related functions. Understanding is wordless. It is based upon impressions, images and feelings. Knowledge is bassed upon symbolic representations. Wisdom will lead to enlightenment. Knowledge will not.

The path to wisdom is to refine the process for representing knowledge so that it is secondary to and a function of the process for gaining wisdom. This alone will put the mind in the proper balance. Then it can focus energy upon understanding and, therefore, wisdom and not knowledge. This is the answer.

Edited by PerVirtuous, 13 May 2009 - 07:14 PM.


#9    Hermit007

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 07:14 PM

Yes and wisdom is denotes the ability to think critically ... not just absorb data.

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents."
~ H. P. Lovecraft ~

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#10    PerVirtuous

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 11:42 PM

Hermit007 on May 13 2009, 03:14 PM, said:

Yes and wisdom is denotes the ability to think critically ... not just absorb data.



Absolutely, and not linearly either. Good points.


#11    Virtual Particle

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 05:22 AM

Why is it that some folks,
when they talk about going to Heaven,
they do not mention sitting down and talking to God.

Any thoughts?

Time is a form of communication
Consciousness transcends all states
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Matter communicates its existence
to consciousness through time        
Man is infinite
God is more
Black Hole Creates Spectacular Light Show

#12    Alchera

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 12:47 AM

Triad on May 14 2009, 06:22 AM, said:

Why is it that some folks,
when they talk about going to Heaven,
they do not mention sitting down and talking to God.

Any thoughts?

That would be something.

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#13    Leonardo

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:08 AM

Triad on May 14 2009, 06:22 AM, said:

Why is it that some folks,
when they talk about going to Heaven,
they do not mention sitting down and talking to God.

Any thoughts?


Why would you think God would want to talk to you?

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

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"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#14    Lilly

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:46 AM

A path to wisdom, there are probably many.

However, I do think it helpful to apply some criteria.

"Anything that contradicts experience and logic should be abandoned." ~The Dalai Lama~



"Ignorance is ignorance. It is a state of mind, not an opinion." ~MID~

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#15    War Eagle

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:56 AM

coberst on May 8 2009, 04:02 AM, said:

Is there a path to wisdom?

coberstakaDutchuncle

I guess there is(?) We just got to watch out we don't get side tracked and lost along the way.





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