On “Wisdom” with Sharon Ryan

Sinem Hürmeydan
9 minutes

Compiled from the Hernefes Agenda “Wisdom” interview with Professor Sharon Ryan, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at West Virginia University and Sinem Hürmeydan published on our Youtube channel.

Wisdom is a concept that has been at the center of philosophical inquiry since the beginning of human history. As is well known, the word “philosophy” is derived from the combination of the words “philo” and “sophia”, meaning “love of wisdom”. In this age of science and hyper-technology, wisdom and the roots of philosophy that focus on wisdom are often overlooked. Yet at the same time we see plenty of material in the name of “wisdom”. “5 ways to live a happier life…”, “3 things you need to do to realize your dreams”, etc. on social media. We come across people who give advice that is mostly empty but loaded with claims, and we don’t know what they are experts on.

That sounds like a little bit may come bluntbut some people call it the “coaching and fake guru industry,” I agree with that; because the vast majority of these people we’re talking about wisdom through the market. On the other handbased on a simple supply-demand equation and when we think about it, people a demand, a need for a wiser life that he is. His research is predominantly on wisdom focusing on as a professor of philosophy, in the light of this critical account, I have been able to define what wisdom is. can you tell me?

Sharon: Sinem, I agree with you that there is a worldwide need/demand for wisdom. Like you, I am skeptical that the “wisdom” that consumers demand and virtually buy from what you describe as the “guru industry” is really the kind of wisdom that I find incredibly valuable and rare in our complex, uncertain and challenging world.

I’ll start my response to your question by saying that I have no problem with much of what the guru industry offers or what many consumers demand. For me, anything positive is better than nothing positive. If simple self-improvement tips can help even one person a little bit, that’s great. But I don’t think true wisdom can be summarized in a few simple tips that can be learned from a short social media post or reading a short self-help book.

I think it might be useful to compare the supply and demand for “guru sector wisdom” with the supply and demand for health and wellness advice.

It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide an easy and truly effective “5-step wellness” plan that would work for everyone, just as it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide an easy “5-step wisdom plan” that would work for everyone.

Both wellness and wisdom require thoughtful and customized planning, deep learning, ongoing dedication and consistent practice. For example, if you replace the goal of healthy living with the goal of achieving a healthy weight, you can easily articulate this new goal in 5 steps. For someone who is overweight, the goal of a healthy weight can be achieved with a plan that focuses on limiting calorie intake and increasing energy expenditure. However, achieving a healthy weight is not enough to be healthy and fit in general. A person who is at a healthy weight is angry, depressed, malnourished, tired, etc. it can happen. Or exactly 4 servings of cake a day. This will not make a person healthy, even if it keeps them at a healthy weight or mass-body index. Alternatively, a person can add a glass of fresh cabbage juice to their morning routine, which is significantly healthy and nutritious. While this is a healthy change, it alone will not be enough to restore overall health.

Going back to the wisdom of the guru industry, one can improve one’s life by, for example, starting each day with a dedicated space and time to reflect and express an intention for that day. Doing so can bring about a positive improvement in one’s life, but this improvement, even if very significant, does not correspond to wisdom.

So, while I think there is a deep need for true wisdom in our world, the kind of wisdom offered by the guru industry does not meet (or even try to meet) the demand for the kind of wisdom that interests me and is related to the philosophical love of wisdom.

What is wisdom, then, if not a kernel of advice for self-improvement?

I think true wisdom is not limited to simple instructions to improve one’s own life.

As I see it, the scope of wisdom goes far beyond self-help or even personal happiness. Wisdom is not primarily focused on ourselves or our own well-being or our own personal fulfillment or prosperity. The focus of wisdom is much broader and “other-oriented” than the wisdom movement of the self-help/guru industry addresses. Wisdom has a very strong moral and social dimension. A wise person has carefully and patiently developed comprehensive and deeply contemplated answers to the great questions of life.

For example, “What is justice?”, “What is a true friend?”, “What are our limits and how can we best manage them?”, “How should we relate to other people, animals and the environment?”, “What is really important?”

A wise person understands the historical, cultural, scientific and social contexts of various events and situations encountered in life. He or she has an empathic and empathetic understanding of what it is like to be in the shoes of others. Emotional intelligence, imagination and tendency to compassion are developed.

Wisdom is not limited to the self; it requires a much broader focus than the self.

Moreover, contrary to the views of many respected philosophical schools of thought on wisdom, I do not consider wisdom to be knowing how best to live life. While it is hoped that wisdom will provide one with some resources to live a “good life” or to achieve happiness, this is not the primary purpose of wisdom. Wisdom is what we need to overcome life’s most difficult and confusing challenges. It is a virtue that helps us deal effectively with the great tribulations of life, such as our own mortality and the death of loved ones. Wisdom helps us to overcome grief, loss and loneliness; to avoid avoidable destruction, war, pain and betrayal; to cope with inevitable tragedies. We all need this kind of philosophical wisdom, but it is not always the preferred path as it requires patient and disciplined study, life experience, practice, endurance and courage rather than taking shortcuts.

So what who wants to live wisely yearn for wisdom? What is the relationship between wisdom and happiness? is ? Does wisdom bring happiness?

Sharon: I think wisdom is the most important, most valuable and most impressive human virtue. Does wisdom lead to happiness? This is a really great question and I will come back to it. For now, however, I can briefly say that the answer to this question is that, depending on what we mean by “happiness”, “wisdom may or may not bring happiness”.

My definition of wisdom includes moral, social, emotional and intellectual dimensions, as well as the value we place on being a good person and doing the right things for the right reasons. Through wisdom, we can understand how to do the right thing in a wide range of circumstances that arise depending on various contingencies. Wisdom involves understanding a great deal about the lives and situations of others and guides us to treat them with compassion, dignity and respect. Moreover, it involves knowledge about oneself and enables us to treat ourselves with the same compassion, dignity and respect as others, and to hold ourselves accountable.

Wise people have the humility to appreciate the full intricate order of life and are not tempted by quick and easy solutions. They know what is really important and focus their gaze beyond mere shiny rewards. They are not satisfied with the mere appearance of wisdom, with the idea of wisdom, they want and seek the truly wise.

On the other hand, wise people have the courage to see and deal with the ugly, the unpleasant, the unjust, the terrible and the painful. They see things as they are and do not live a life of delusion, wishful thinking or self-deception. To return to the question, does wisdom lead to happiness?

If we think of happiness as pleasure, positive emotions or joyful experiences, I don’t think wisdom can provide happiness. Life can be too challenging to rationally experience pleasure, positive emotions or joyful experiences. For example, surviving an earthquake can take away one’s happiness (at least temporarily) but not one’s wisdom. In fact, it is precisely in dealing with these kinds of sad situations, in facing disasters, that we can become wiser. Being wise is compatible with being happy, but it cannot guarantee happiness. As Aristotle, who advocates moderation in all things, virtues and emotions, says, wise people experience the right emotion at the right time, in the right measure. Sometimes joy is not the appropriate emotion for the situation.

Yet wisdom will enable us to successfully overcome many of the major obstacles to living our lives in the best and most authentic moral way. Wisdom greatly minimizes ignorance, dogmatism, delusion, misinterpretation of values, hatred, injustice, irrationality, etc. It fosters a deep understanding of the mysteries and complexities of life that are not easily solved, nurtures imagination, fosters compassion and encourages love.

Although I would prefer to have both wisdom and happiness (and wealth and beauty and comfort and, and, and, and…), I think wisdom is the most important of all.

Finally, how we can live more wisely, or at least how we can move more healthily and reasonably along the path we intend. that you can share with us application-oriented Recommendations What are they?

Sharon: I think being educated is the most important thing we can do to become wiser, and I use the term “education” in its broadest sense. Seek the truth, no matter how ugly or difficult the truth may be. Explore other cultures and philosophies of life. Take your time to find quick and easy answers to life’s difficult questions. Accept your limits, your limitations, and work to improve on them if necessary. Develop patience and imagination to appreciate that the truth is more complex than you can imagine. Work hard to put yourself in others’ shoes. Take the time to figure out what is really important and let that guide you. Learn from your mistakes. Engage with the big questions of philosophy patiently, honestly, critically and openly!

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