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Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

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Do we achieve wisdom at points of life when it can be least used?

We don't select our parents so we have no control over inheriting parental wisdom. We are not born equally smart, resourceful and wise. We piece through life, experience, learn, make mistakes and gather wisdom.
We finish school education at ages when (normally) we don't fully appreciate academic learning and it's connection to wisdom. We (normally) choose life partners at ages when we are not fully aware of the values of relationship. We become parts of societies with low to non-existent societal responsibilities.
It takes couple of decades or even more for life to precipitate through our faculties. Wisdom grows but (normally) too slowly. It's not entirely mistaken to equate wisdom with age.
So, when we have it, we have made almost all significant decisions of life.
Do we achieve wisdom at points of life when it can be least used?

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    Mar 28 2013: My take is that a wise man has touched the hot stove too many times. A smart man asks the wise man about stove touching..
    Wisdom comes with experience usually bad experience. Most take a life time to experience enough bad things to become wise.
    A few gain wisdom by time they are old enough to shave.
    I wish I had been smarter then wiser.
    However, it seems that once you are wise, the young ignore you as they are smarter then you and have all the answers... just like you when you were young.
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    Mar 23 2013: 1. I learned that my education was not connected with wisdom when I was in my mid 30s.
    2. I learned that value in relationships change when I was in my teens, but the message didn't really sink in until my late 20s (knowledge turned to wisdom).
    3. I learned about my responsibility to myself, thus my society, when I was in my late 30s.
    4. I learned #4 when I was 38.

    Clearly, I went through a series of tumultuous events while in my mid to late 30s. Then in one incredible moment of "seeing", I handled a situation differently and I could suddenly see life very differently. Wisdom (that I didn't understand as wisdom) came to me from out of the blue at exactly the moment I really needed it. As I look back, I think that all wisdom does.

    also, we choose our parents for our own reasons - in my belief system. It's too involved to get into using only 2,000 characters or less, but it is a well-reasoned belief system that explains why children would be born to a starving mother or why Jews would be born into a world that was going to go Holocaust on them.

    Let me know how things have changed in another 11 years. If TED is still here, I will be too.
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    Mar 23 2013: You look at life in a linear way - a way that I do not. I believe that I DID choose my parents/family/circumstances/time frame/etc.

    Here are some things I have learned in my 62 years of life"

    1. Your formal education is NOT connected with wisdom.
    2. Values in relationships change.
    3. We do have major responsibilities to our societies, but we have learned in our formal educations that we should not accept them.
    4. My greatest moments of wisdom come when I was in greatest need of it.
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      Mar 23 2013: We are free as far as what we choose to believe as long as we are careful not to draw conclusions entirely based on it. I support two very bright young persons, one girl and one boy, to have education and healthcare by compensating their parents the amount they were required to send home by working at ages 10 and 8 (the girl did housemaid's job and the boy did waiting at tea vendor). I used to think the primary reason for their being in child labor was poverty. I now know that additionally their parents have no better idea. They are also poor of wisdom. I don't think given a choice, these kids would have selected their parents.
      It will be easier for me if you could tell me at what stage of your biological life you learnt those things. At 51, I have no problem agreeing to 1 and 3, would qualify 2 by adding 'but responsibilities don't' and entirely disagree with 4.
      I hope to live another 11 years and review my position. :)
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        Mar 23 2013: 1. I learned that my education was not connected with wisdom when I was in my mid 30s.
        2. I learned that value in relationships change when I was in my teens, but the message didn't really sink in until my late 20s (knowledge turned to wisdom).
        3. I learned about my responsibility to myself, thus my society, when I was in my late 30s.
        4. I learned #4 when I was 38.

        Clearly, I went through a series of tumultuous events while in my mid to late 30s. Then in one incredible moment of "seeing", I handled a situation differently and I could suddenly see life very differently. Wisdom (that I didn't understand as wisdom) came to me from out of the blue at exactly the moment I really needed it. As I look back, I think that all wisdom does.

        also, we choose our parents for our own reasons - in my belief system. It's too involved to get into using only 2,000 characters or less, but it is a well-reasoned belief system that explains why children would be born to a starving mother or why Jews would be born into a world that was going to go Holocaust on them.

        Let me know how things have changed in another 11 years. If TED is still here, I will be too.
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          Mar 23 2013: I'd say that's interesting and pretty different from what I believe. I am not sure however if I will be here in TED after 11 years though :) This is my second stint in TED and I have grown wise from my first.
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        Mar 23 2013: Hard lessons are also a way of learning hard truths. Thus is it wise to set no expectations for anyone but self?
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          Mar 23 2013: I think wisdom has no sense of finality, it is an ever enriching process where we need to be ready to learn once more.
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    Mar 23 2013: Pabitra,

    No.

    Pretty brave statement huh. I can state that wisdom is the application of knowledge. If you can accept that then I also can prove that we gain knowledge in increments throughout life as necessary for our survival.

    As a child we learn that touching a hot surface will cause pain. That is knowledge. The application of that knowledge is to not touch ot surfaces.

    As a child we learn that when it snows and the wind blows that it is cold outside and we wear a coat / dress worm. That is knowledge. We apply it by dressing accordingly to the tempature.

    Over time we learn about relationships ... friendship ... romantic ... business ... etc.. This is knowledge. We use this information in dating, selecting a life partner, and in daily interactions.

    So at each stage of our life we add more knowledge and learn to apply that knowledge and application is wisdom.

    And so it is in the world of Bob. Of course I could be wrong .... not a first time. LOL

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Mar 23 2013: Thanks Bob. I wish life's important decisions could match in time with our learning curves. Of course there is second hand wisdom as some argue, but that wisdom is just that : second hand.
      Moreover it is problematic to admit the real wisdom in many situations. For example when a woman asks a man: do you love me, it will be disastrous to say, yes honey for now I do, but that is my idea of love not yours.
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        Mar 23 2013: If you can define love you are better than millions of philosophers from the beginning of time. The sample you gave above is closer to being in heat than in love.

        Some things are transient ... the knowledge I speak of tends to be more of a perment nature .. touching hot things ... cutlural convientions ... trying to hug a bear ... kissing a alligator ... to tell a woman you are in love with her for now ... or tell a woman that her baby is ugly are not acts of wisom they indicate a person with a death wish. Stupid is on the other end of the spectrum.

        I wish you well. Bob.
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          Mar 23 2013: I am a survivor, trust me.
          Actually I like kids and have a way with them. It's not that I don't like women but don't think romantic love is all that matters in life.
          Btw, I am not so old to forget that 'do you love me' comes most often when the heat has already dissipated.
          Pardon my weird sense of humor. Cheers!
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    Mar 23 2013: Wisdom comes from experience. This means experience is to a greater or lesser degree painful. After the experience the person pulls back from the experience and says ok what did I learn, and this becomes wisdom. This wisdom can be passed on through the culture, children, evolution, the economy. The graveyard is filled with people who contributed to the current culture, economy, inventions, knowledge, standard of living, law, country, world, humanity.
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      Mar 23 2013: You mean my pain my children's' gain? Can we not save some wisdom for our own benefit?
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        Mar 23 2013: Your children and all of life are an extension of you.
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          Mar 23 2013: I agree. My concern for environmental degradation grew out of a sense of guilt/responsibility towards a world I am leaving behind for my son.
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    Mar 22 2013: Makes a good case for listening to our elders. Quite the opposite of what normally happens; our children are being educated (?) by soaps & cellphones.

    :-)
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    Mar 22 2013: Do we achieve wisdom at points of life when it can be least used?

    No, I think the main reason we achieve wisdom "later" in life is to pass it on. We can pass it on our kids, grandkids...