Sunday, November 20, 2011


Philosophia, ( Philosophy) was in the original Latin term, defined as the love of wisdom.  Today there are many more threads, (more than can be named here) in areas, such as the philosophy of politics, philosophies of various sciences and as an academic discipline, the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, of reality and existence; this last one is huge and I question whether a definition of it, or for it, can be fixed.  By their own place within existence,  the various wisdoms must surely wax and wane, change their nature and be constantly redefined.

 In Malmesbury this year a festival of Philosophy was held.  It has been suggested that there is a lack of wisdom today, that there should be a drive to raise the profile of philosophical study amongst people. Perhaps a festival is one method of doing it.  When reporters obtained popular local thought on the general topic, a few people admitted to not knowing what philosophy is, a larger number made a stab at an answer, some expressed disinterest.  Those making an attempt to define their understanding of the subject gave varied answers, and under the huge umbrella of all the philosophies, none, it seemed to me, could have been wrong.

So, where does that leave us when trying to determine how much wisdom there truly is around us today?  Who is to determine whether there is a lack of wisdom, or to measure how much wisdom there is. What acceptable measures could be used?  It appears to me, the very nature of philosophy, esoteric as it can be, is tied up with subjectivity, and determining measures to measure wisdom is unlikely to be entirely successful, (if at all) because the discussion would in all likelihood be embroiled in endless philosophical debate.


Vincent said...

It may be unwise of me but I first need to point out that philosophy and wisdom have long parted company in our English language. The "love of wisdom" etymology has little reference to the scope of philosophy today.

Grammatically or perhaps philosophically speaking, wisdom is not something that lends itself to be measured. It occurs, or fails to occur, in individual acts, the little things you perform hundreds of each day. What you say to your spouse, whether to take your umbrella, checking if you have enough milk--these are some of the everyday acts where wisdom is required, not to mention the bigger things, like whether to trust someone. Knowledge of philosophy is not required in matters of wisdom, I would argue.

Philosophy, I would argue, consists mainly of argument.

Setting that quibble to one side, I think Malmesbury's idea is charming. You've reminded me to read some Hobbes. I'm sure I can download him to my Kindle and discover what else he said apart from life in the raw being "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

I wish my own town had some high-minded festival attached to its name. Traditionally it's associated with bodgers. How about the High Wycombe International Festival of Bodging?

ZACL said...

I knew I would obtain a fascinating view from you. There is nothing in your comment with which I cannot concur. It is full of wisdom.

How far do you think bodging would get? A festival for bodgers, bodging and raising awareness of what bodging can do, may have some interesting and probably unintended consequences. At least it could be, (note, not would be)good fun. A cracked shield for the best bodge perhaps?