Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The 7 pillars of Wisdom

The diagram in my August 4 blog received a comment from Frans de Waal, a Dutch primatologist: “I think I have known nonhuman primates with great wisdom.” My initial reply to him was: “If Wisdom is the absence of (human) beliefs then you have a point.” Then it hit me: what is Wisdom?

My answer qualifies as a negative definition, similar to my March 2022 blog: What is peace? The absence of war? It is much harder to arrive at a positive definition of certain terms. Examples: What is friendship, love, peace and/or wisdom? The Bible also struggles to define Wisdom (eg, Book of Proverbs 9:1).

The 2020 book Wisdom’s Seven Pillars by Nancy Sari claims these 7 pillars are: fear of the Lord, instruction, knowledge, understanding, discretion, counsel, and reproof. The websites Got Questions and Crosswalk show similar findings.

However, James 3:17 states these 7: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Note: italic markings by LO. See explanation of these terms. There is some overlap however. See my table below.

In today’s terms, the above would look like the following:

  • learning (ie, knowledge & understanding)
  • teaching (ie, instruction)
  • advising (ie, counsel)
  • appreciation & gratitude (ie, fear of the Lord, James 3:17: full of mercy, submissive)
  • blame, name, shame for a fault (ie, reproof)
  • facts, prudence, verification (ie, discretion, James 3:17: impartial, sincere)

My personal three pillars, Faith, Hope & Love from 1 Corinthians 13:13, appear to be (largely) missing from this list. I wonder why.

To a large extent, I’m adhering to the 7 pillars from Proverbs 9:1 and James 3:17. Nevertheless, my known unknowns and my unknown unknowns must exceed my known knowns to a very large extent. How can I ever achieve Wisdom? Is that (also) why I (still) feel incomplete?

Perhaps, it’s due to my perspective. When I think of Wisdom, I think of the 1979 film Being There (eg, IMDb, Wiki). The main character, Chance the gardner, appears to be a (very) simple-minded person. Still, whenever he does speak, he says (very) wise things – apparently even at random.

How can you achieve Wisdom if you don’t even know what it is?

Perhaps, Wisdom is output rather than input, like happiness and satisfaction. You cannot achieve wisdom; only others can perceive you as wise.

Old and Wise (1982) by The Alan Parsons Project feat. Colin Blunstone (vocals)
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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