From Knowledge to Wisdom


From Knowledge to Wisdom


We need a revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry, so that the basic aim becomes to promote wisdom by rational means, instead of just to acquire knowledge.

Acquiring scientific knowledge dissociated from a more basic concern for wisdom leads, via technology and industry, to an enormous increase in the power to act.

This has led to much that is good, but also to much that is harmful. All our modern global crises are the outcome of science without wisdom. If we are to avoid in this century the horrors of the last one - wars, death camps, dictatorships, poverty, environmental damage - we urgently need to learn how to acquire more wisdom, which in turn means that our institutions of learning become devoted to that end.

The revolution we need would change every branch and aspect of academic inquiry. Social inquiry would become social methodology or philosophy, and would not be, primarily, social science. Its primary task would be to help people resolve conflicts and problems of living in more cooperatively rational ways. Social inquiry would be more intellectually fundamental than natural science. Natural science would change to include three domains of discussion: evidence, theory, and aims - the latter including discussion of metaphysics, values and politics. Academic inquiry as a whole would become a kind of people's civil service, doing openly for the public what actual civil services are supposed to do in secret for governments.