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What is wisdom?

1. Wisdom is characterised by the attitude “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”—it’s associated with the peasant who bites a coin to see if it’s the genuine article. If it can’t be touched, bitten, smelt, scratched, or tasted then it’s not to be trusted; it’s the opposite to any “take my word for it”.

2. Hence wisdom is synonymous with experience and awareness. Per Schopenhauer, it’s better to think a problem out for yourself than to read another man’s thoughts—another man’s thoughts just clot your mind. If you do read another man, read what he says properly—i.e. out loud—and never a gloss (e.g. if you want to understand Kant, read The Critique of Pure Reason itself—not a gloss).

3. This doesn’t mean wisdom is anti-spiritual, as it may sound, its principle being that of the Royal Society “take nobody’s word for it”. It is “positivistic” and “empirical”, but in relation to consciousness and not the material world. When Serrano visited Jung he observed that Jung thanked his plates, cups, and kettle as he washed them up and put them away. This is also wisdom—it is to merge your consciousness with objects and the world.

4. You come to know a person or thing when you mix your consciousness with it. To thank your plates, cups, and kettle cultivates a reverent attitude to the world—it sacralises it. This is how the statue of Athena will come to speak to you—if you speak to her, merge your consciousness with her, then she will speak back; and that is how the old religions worked—you can do this with many things, not just statues.


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