Friday, April 01, 2005

Today's Teaser

Question: What's the difference between wisdom and intelligence?
Answer: And which is better? (sorry, I guess I am channeling Socrates at the moment.)

I'll post my own thoughts in a day or two. Until then, leave a comment with your own definitions.

Update: I thought that I would seed the discussion with the dictionary definitions. The definitions most applicable to our discussion are quoted below but, in the interest of full disclosure, I linked the full page for each word.

The definition for Wisdom.
1 a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : KNOWLEDGE b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : INSIGHT c : good sense

The definition for Intelligence.
1 a (1) : the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : REASON; also : the skilled use of reason (2) : the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)

In the comments, Mark Alexander says
Intelligence is a thinking. Wisdom is a knowing.

As for me, I associate intelligence with reason and the scientific method. Wisdom I associate with understanding and appropriate action.

So I ask again. What is the difference and which is better?

Update: It's the weekend (or almost) and it is wisdom that I should finish this post. I want to start with a quote from Mason Cooley:
Intelligence complicates. Wisdom simplifies.
In four words, Mason Cooley succinctly describes a concept that is extremely difficult to put into words.

I think that intelligence is about your ability to learn and how much you have learned. Wisdom is about what you do with you learn. Intelligence is about the individual seeking theories, facts and figures. Wisdom is about using all that one has learned to live a good life and touch those around you in a positive way.

E. F. Schumacher described three stages in life. In the first stage, a man comes home and asks "What's for dinner?" In the second stage, a man comes home and wonders how dinner fits into the universe. He wonders what's right or wrong about dinner and tries to make others see what he has discovered. In the third stage, a man comes home and asks, "What's for dinner?" not because he is incapable of deep thought but because he already understands "dinner" and right now he is hungery. The first stage is innocent man, one without knowledge. The second stage is an intelligent man, seeking and learning. The third stage is a wise man; one who understands.

Have you ever known an intelligent person? Have you ever known a wise person? Do you think that my descriptions are accurate?

Which is better? I think wisdom is better.