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Wisdom is Separate to Intelligence.
Wisdom is Separate from Intelligence
It is often taken for granted that an intelligent person and a wise person are similar.
My premise here is
(1) that Wisdom is infinitely far beyond mere accumulated knowledge and that
(2) it is always closely linked to ethics rather than to mere intelligence, and that
(3) this can be demonstrated by arguments in favor of less technologically developed communities and even by
(3) other expressions of life.(In other words Wisdom can exist both within and without of human beings. If wisdom can exist outside of solely human beings then we have an argument in favor of sentience being able to exist outside of just "us".)
BASIC "HUMAN" VALUES and WISDOM
The one line dictionary definition of wisdom relates only to the "accumulated learning" of a society. However, a deeper definition would take into account the most important parts of this accumulated learning that definitively makes wisdom wise: ethical values.
By observing nature and the universe we can discern certain immutable laws that resemble ethics, such as mutual interdependence and respect. Early man observed and learned from Nature and the Universe about such basic ethics. This will be discussed more fully in the latter part of this essay.
The presence of basic "human" values such as compassion, sharing, mutual responsibility, tolerance and respect for others are often symbolized by one word: "love".
When analyzed objectively, the presence or absence of wisdom is dictated by such values. Many of these values are shared by other living organisms. Mutual interdependence can often be said to be a defining characteristic of even nature itself and the very atoms that make up the entire universe. Such values are inbuilt into the universe in the same way as gravity and other elemental forces.
Ancient and modern religions often perceive this "human-like" quality expressed by nature as Godlike. The behavior of natural laws are reminiscent of human sentience. Atheists tend to solely look at the characteristics of nature that don't seem to exhibit such tender values and they point to the unexplained miseries of nature as proof that God does not exist. However it is inescapable that a thing like mutual interdependence and sharing is exhibited, and encouraged, by nature and the universe. The religious amongst us can see the Love and wisdom present in the universe. The spiritually minded don't blame God for the bad things or give human beings the credit for all the good present in the Universe. The so called "empathy" promoted by modern atheists is just the same old "love" principle promoted by religions. Without this humans cease to be human. Empathy also exists as a physical force in nature as sympathetic resonance.
The eminent physicist Stephen Hawking once described the universe as a "free lunch". This is a humorous reference to the fact that all this infinite energy and structure is freely given. To the spiritually minded this implies a benevolent God. Without such a God concept the Universe becomes a "tale told by an idiot" as quoted by the madman Macbeth in Shakespeare's play of the same name.
Mutual sharing and interdependence therefore belongs to the foundations of true wisdom and without such positive values we only have mundane intelligence bereft of wisdom.
A highly intelligent person often exhibits greed and destructive forms of competition in order to make money to the detriment of the environment and society. This is because they have decoupled from basic human values such as compassion and tolerance. Hence their greater factual knowledge, or intelligence, is mistaken for wisdom, but in reality it is only a superficial form of sneaky cleverness or bogus "intelligence".
A person of less so called intelligence (or accumulated factual knowledge) can exhibit far more wisdom as they have retained an innate sense of compassion and tolerance. Hence we often see indigenous tribes, with far less modern technological knowledge, connected to an ancient ethical philosophy that teaches sharing and respect for the environment in which they live.
Furthermore a person who suffers from Down's Syndrome is capable of exhibiting more wisdom than a room full of successful corporate identities. A person with Down's Syndrome will demonstrate a high degree of compassion and sharing in spite of an official low intelligence rating. Corporate executives may be highly intelligent but will often exhibit an almost sociopathic level of disregard for others.
Intelligence itself is bogged down by a mixture of factual knowledge and negative human failings. Greed, envy, malice, intolerance and selfishness etc. taint human knowledge and therefore easily corrupt intelligence.
Wisdom on the other hand is knowledge linked to ethics. It is almost entirely independent of any large reservoir of accumulated facts and is instead intimately fused with ethics.
Wisdom can not be corrupted as corruption is not part of the actual definition of wisdom.
WISDOM AND COMPASSION HAVE AN INTIMATE CONNECTION.
By analyzing the difference between intelligence and wisdom we can see that wisdom is intimately connected to basic "human" values, or universal ethics, and operates on a kind of sliding scale: the less of these universal values the less wisdom a person has.
When we examine a person who is highly intelligent but who does not possess human values we get a very flawed individual who may appear "wise" but is merely an accumulation of factual learning and is actually bereft of wisdom.
Instructional didactic books were written by ancient philosophers who did not possess the accumulated factual knowledge of the average person today. However they were able to formulate writings that still remain beneficial to the study of ethics and to society's general welfare. This is yet another easily observable proof that wisdom is very different to ordinary intelligence.
Moreover, certain animals also possess an innate wisdom that allows them to regulate their own societies with compassion and regard for other members of their group. We see in animal communities the existence of certain values normally associated with human beings. Wild animals such as lions often interfere with community disputes when there is gross unfairness shown to other members by another member who might for example bully others.
We also see in many animals a propensity to share food and to stifle greed in at least their own societies. This type of phenomena observable in the animal kingdom makes a pertinent comment about the nature of Wisdom as opposed to mundane intelligence or plain accumulated factual learning.
It is therefore arguably basic "human" or sentient values that give the spine and structure to actual wisdom. Such values are symptomatic of not only human consciousness but of animal sentience and perhaps even of actual physical laws which always seem to react with an inbuilt altruism. These values of communal sharing, lack of greed, benefit to others and compassion etc can also be seen in the smallest of insects and even beyond that in Nature Itself.
INFINITE NATURAL WISDOM
The earth was seen by many ancient and modern indigenous people as The Mother. They needed to take from Her only what was needed with a formalized system of thanks, and also to give back with a mutual sense of responsibility and care. This behavior will forever (infinitely) remain in the highest category of great wisdom. The earth, trees and animals were once personified and built into the same framework of responsibility and care as humans themselves were. On the other hand ordinary intelligence or simple accumulated factual learning denies this personification and hence often tries to claim that the Earth is merely a ball of rock which can be endlessly plundered. Hence such a modern materialistic attitude based on accumulated knowledge has far less Wisdom in it than an ancient indigenous tribe, a community of wild animals, an ant or a tree, as they all just take what they need and share with at least some others.
As the earth quietly supports all of humanity and life in a silently sharing manner there is even an argument to be made that so called inanimate nature also possesses more wisdom than a room full of wealthy intelligent corporate identities, or even by many modern philosophers who are bereft of the values of sharing and compassion.
Atoms also automatically share energy and perform functions which enable all other creatures and structures to exist, from bacteria to higher organisms, and from molecules to crystals.
In view of these self evident observations it has to be said that the importance of intelligence is highly exaggerated. Intelligent life does not mean wise life. The phrase "intelligent life" may even conjure up feelings and images of a new threat from deep space, for with mere intelligence comes connotations of ulterior political motives and unknown quantities. We are unaware if such life has wisdom as well as intelligence. Intelligence on its own is actually potentially highly dangerous.
PROOF OF GOD
The above line of thought can be taken to an ultimate end: for as it can be shown that wisdom exists independently of human beings,in animals and natural phenomena, then it must follow that Wisdom is in the same order as Mathematics. That is to say it exists outside the human brain as a natural law. As it has a "human" or sentient quality then it is only a small step in reasoning to see a principle of sharing and compassion inbuilt into the entire universe.
It is not intelligent creation but Wisdom wisely separated from mere human intelligence.
Interdependence in Nature
I have added here some new research that claims to prove that wisdom (compassion and sharing) predates human intelligence by over a million years!
Here are some quotes from the Daily Mail regarding the research of Penny Spikins from York University:
“The milk of human kindness came before intelligence: Skulls of early humans show they developed compassion up to 3million years ago - before they could even speak.”
“Evidence has been found that humans living more than 3million years ago may have looked after and even helped each other to survive before they learned to speak, and these emotions may have actually helped intelligence and reasoning evolve.”
“In another example Spikins cites a Dmanisi skull, dating back 1.5million years, which showed evidence of someone surviving for years with no teeth. The group probably helped this early hominin, a Homo erectus found in Georgia, find soft food so it could survive.
Another Homo erectus skull was found in Kenya, which showed evidence of it being cared for after a long illness. Spikins also points to groups of Homo heidelbergensis, which lived around 450,000 years ago, who cared for disabled youngsters. A deformed skull of a child with learning difficulties from this period was found in Spain.”
“The findings, revealed in a study by Penny Spikins of York University..”
'Our success since then, including the evolution of intelligence, all sprang from that (compassion).' …Penny Sipkins.