Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Wisdom and Psychology

Wisdom is an ancient virtue often recorded in maxims and proverbs.

Psychologists generally agree that wisdom is learned from experience rather than the explicit knowledge obtained from lectures and books.

Psychologist Robert J. Sternberg developed a balance theory of wisdom. Following is his definition.

The balance theory defines wisdom as the use of one’s intelligence, creativity, commone sense, and knowledge and as mediated by positive ethical values toward the achievement of a common good through a balance among (a) intrapersonal, (b) interpersonal, and (c) extrapersonal interests, over the (a) short and (b) long terms to achieve a balance among (a) adaptation to existing environments, (b) shaping of existing environments, and (c) selection of new environments. (Sternberg, n.d.)

Haidt explains that wise people balance their own needs and the needs of others both in the present and in the future. He also comments on those without wisdom, 

"Ignorant people see everything in black and white--they rely heavily on the myth of pure evil--and they are strongly influenced by their own self-interest (Haidt, 2006, pp. 152-153)."

Haidt, J. (2006). The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. Cambridge, MA: Basic books.


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