By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University

Posted Augut 25, 2018; Work in Progress

Wisdom is what one has learned over time. It is the common sense of living. The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment usually as we get older; the quality of being wise. 

Of course, everyone thinks they are wise even when they are young. Although some base their decisions and judgments on sound information, many base their decisions on misinformation, lies and selfish desires. This is what is happening in United States today. Many perceive to be wise when they are not!

Today, we have a culture evolving that lies and misrepresents the truth.  Many people have been swayed by misinformation and do not believe in the truth or basic science. Yes, we need a better definition of wisdom.

Wisdom evolves from how one lives. It is more than just one's experiences, what one knows and using good judgment.  It has to include values [morality] by which to live. Values of right and wrong, good and bad and as morality applies to society.  In other words, a whole philosophy of life.

Jeste and his researchers at UCSD studied wisdom and found, both modern science and ancient philosophy point to six key qualities: a general knowledge of life and good judgment in social situations; control over your emotions; pro-social behaviors like empathy, compassion, altruism and a sense of fairness; insight into oneself and one’s actions (“the ability to see what mistakes you’ve made"); value relativism (“accepting that we don’t know what the truth is sometimes”); and decisiveness.  Schenkam: defining wisdom 2018

Well, wisdom may not provide us with all answers to our social problems, but it can go a long way to doing so.  No one links wisdom to politicians. They should have wisdom defining the nature of their service to the people they represent. Instead, we sense that politicians, based on their behaviors, serve themselves and money interests and not the people.  Medical doctors have a high level of education and so should display a lot of wisdom in caring for their patients, but this is not always the case. 

It seems that wisdom needs to be guided by values and search for the truth. Just knowing and experience is not enough.  Knowing how to interpret the information and how to use or direct the information is equally important. Wisdom needs to reflect caring about others and serving the greater numbers of society than just a few. 

Well, the reader may disagree and perceive that there is bias to this perception of wisdom. 


Schenkman Lauren, "How wise are you? One scientist is trying to create a test," Ideas.Ted.com, Mar 27, 2018.  Schenkam: defining wisdom 2018