Wisdom & Knowledge

Found this old compare and contrast paper from school and I was reminiscing about the things I thought about in those days. Thought I’d share.
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Throughout the ages, man has relied on his hard-earned knowledge and the wisdom of his ancestors. In that, knowledge and wisdom are found to begin their processes on the same basis. Both are used by man in order to facilitate his chances of survival and ability to rise above his fellow mammals. This does not; however, mean their meanings are the same. On the contrary, a being’s knowledge is gained throughout his lifetime through experience or association, as well as his apprehension of truth or facts through reasoning.

The old sages and wise men of centuries past, who clarified the befuddled thoughts of those who sought enlightenment or the answer to a great riddle in the midst of their lives, were reported as being marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgement, as well as old age, which in itself was thought to be a mark of wisdom; which is undoubtedly why stories depicting them are told and retold to this day, even in today’s advanced and increasingly technological world.

Both wisdom and knowledge are attainable by man through a form of learning; widom is gained by accumulating philosophic or scientific learning, and knowledge is gained by learning to associate things and by a learned familiarity with things. The differences between the two qualities can be seen in that no one can teach a person to have wisdom since it is gained with experience, whereas knowledge is something that is more likely taught than experienced. One might say that the more knowledge one possesses, the wiser one may become.

“A fundamental fact about man is his ability to know, to be aware of things, of himself, and even his own awareness. We could not even begin to discuss the whole question of knowledge if we were not already aware by direct experience of what it means to know. All science presumes this ability, for science is simply one kind of knowledge. But whereas the scientist may concentrate on the objects he knows, the philosopher must penetrate into this mysterious realm of knowing itself, and try to understand what the process involves.” (1) Here is the point where knowledge sometimes ends and wisdom begins, since to understand knowledge, from a philosopher’s point of view, one must rely on insight as a guide to common sense and mere facts.

The wise men, commonly associated witht he Infant Christ, were members of the learned and priestly caste of ancient Persia and Media, and although considered wise, their wisdom was that of augurs (those who foretold the future by observing the flight of birds), astrologers, and keepers of sacred things. Since these things are known to have been passed down through time, it seems obvious that these occupations are a form of knowledge about particular subjects; otherwise, how could others learn? This shows again how similar wisdom and knowledge are. The wise men were wise because they had accumulated a great wealth of learning in their respective fields; in other words, along with the knowledge and understanding it took for them to be able to do their jobs they also had a great deal of experience in those areas. So before anyone can become wise (which is entirely possible for anyone who puts his/her mind to it) he/she must first gain the knowledge because “knowledge is the most basic and immediate experience we can have, there is nothing more simpler and fundamental to which we can reduce it.” (2) Having gained the knowledge, one must then proceed to use that knowledge again and again, perfecting it every step of the way.

(1)(2) Man and His Nature; James E. Royce
Reference: Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Reference Encyclopedia (vol. 16 and 25)

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