The Two Heads of Wisdom
Updated: Aug 6
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There seems to be an imbalance between technical wisdom and philosophical wisdom in today's society.
Technical wisdom is about how to do things, such as how to use mathematics, science, engineering, and technology. Philosophical wisdom is about why things are the way they are, such as the meaning of life, the nature of reality, and the value of morality.
Our society seems to place a greater emphasis on technical wisdom than philosophical wisdom. This is evident in the way we educate our children, the way we allocate resources, and the way we value different types of knowledge.
For example, we tend to place a higher value on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects than on the humanities. We also tend to invest more in research and development than in philosophy.
This imbalance is problematic because it leads to a society that is more concerned with how to do things than with why things are the way they are. This can lead to a society that is more materialistic, more exploitative, and more lacking in meaning.
We need to find a way to balance technical wisdom and philosophical wisdom. We need to teach our children about the importance of both types of knowledge. We need to allocate resources more evenly between STEM and humanities subjects. And we need to value philosophy more highly.
By doing these things, we can create a society that is more balanced, more humane, and more meaningful.
The Wisdom of Purpose
The more we invest in philosophical wisdom, the more we can apply purpose to our lives. We can see existence as more than a machine, but as a sea of opportunities that can be actualized, with purpose as its general motive.
If we simply look at our existence as an automated machine without much purpose, we may be successful in our professional lives, but we may still find ourselves unsatisfied. Our success would be only in terms of professionalism, with little regard for our ideology towards existence.
This is the wisdom our society lacks: the wisdom of purpose. The belief that financial gain is the most important, if not the only important, thing in life, makes us ignorant of life as more than just a machine that we use for optimal financial gain and nothing more.
We are encouraged to go to school, get a degree in something beneficial, get a high-paying job, raise a family, and take care of them until we are old enough to retire. The generations after us are encouraged to repeat the same thing we have been encouraged to do. And when we fulfill these norms like a machine, we are given much respect and are considered attractive and desirable, even if we ourselves are not pleased with our existence due to a lack of purpose beyond such repetitive activities in the name of financial gain and a respectable reputation.
The Importance of Philosophy
Whatever can be found beyond the metaphorical machine, lies within the Second Head of Wisdom, in the humanities, and especially in philosophy. One of its main aims is to give us a sense of purpose in our lives, something which many of us are devoid of, both as individuals and as communities.
This is why I find the lifelong norms (getting into academy/college, get a degree, find a high-paying job, and so forth) wrong, at least philosophically. While such planning can ensure our financial future, it usually has a much lower effect on us as beings that need a more general, deeper motive for our activities, including deciding to stay alive and not commit suicide when we can.
This is something that the First Head of Wisdom - mathematics, science, and so forth - is incapable of giving us, or, at least, is not that much competent of doing. Thus, philosophizing can be vital for one's ambition to stay alive and endure the daily, absurd-looking, continuous activities that a civilized life requires of us.