On Wisdom

Was listening to a really interesting podcast—a conversation with Iain McGilchrist, author of the The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. In the program he quotes Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” (William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”).

To me, this reminds us of the importance of maintaining an open mind and a humbleness when it comes to our understanding of ourselves, each other, nature, the world, and the universe. This quote speaks to Socrates’ belief, one that Albert Einstein shared, that the wisest people admit and understand that they really know next to nothing.

Wise people can see and accept—without feeling inferior or stupid, but rather joyfully curious—that the world, any issue or problem, any person or group of people, and the vastness of nature hold great complexities, most of which lie far beyond our singular understanding.

When we think we know how a thing IS, or how a thing SHOULD be, we stop learning. We are then only espousing our own limited knowledge. Our understanding thus falls far short. We don’t listen. We don’t make good choices.

And, as we are seeing in a very painful way right now in the U.S. and other places around the globe—communication and problem-solving fall apart completely, rendering us inept and powerless. Undesired and negative ramifications usually unfold exponentially as a result of certainty and righteousness.

1 thought on “On Wisdom

  1. navasolanature

    Sounds an interesting podcast and ideas. Yeats sums up our situation from about 100 years ago. Hope all fairly ok. These times are challenging in too many ways now. Just been listening to an Audible book on about story telling in World literature, it ends with Haroun and the Sea of Stories, it is about those with a desire to control try to destroy the sea of stories. This is because our imagination and involvement in story is beyond their control.

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