Knowledge and wisdom? LO28461

Date: 05/11/02

Arbitrarily linked to LO28445 by your host --

Dear LO,

Dwig, I think you once pointed me up a fractal garden path toward an 'idea
tree' wherein which branches I found this...

What we moderns think thought means seems to be weighted heavily in the
direction of "reason". If something isn't "reasonable" or "rational", it is
Yet, sages, Masters, and mages, not to mention ravens, have a pretty awesome
hit record in the "thought" area without being either "reasonable" or
"rational" - or maybe not, for perhaps these creatures do not think at all in
any way we'd recognise.
The evidence I have for this claim is the same that many of you cite:
Individuals have come along from time to time who seem to be able to get it
right without going through all the steps the rest of us have to take. We
call these people "geniuses" today; earlier, and in other cultures, they were
"sages", "mages", and, to the surprise of many rational folk, "tricksters".
The note below gets into some of this, admittedly in really sketchy form. To
write it all out with the detail it deserves would require a couple or three
thick volumes of words. If I haven't turned everybody off with these short
notes, sending off reams of material on tricksters would certainly do it.
I do plan to write more of this up for publication on The Idea Tree site,
however. Feel free to look in from time to time.

Some of the main features talked about earlier:
1. Knowledge tries to smooth out change into persistent valid models of
2. Well-practised knowledge takes on the pall of "Eternal Form", always true;
3. Knowledge makes constant that which varies;
4. Knowledge classifies, counts and sorts, reducing reality to far fewer
forms than it possesses in unfettered form;
5. Knowledge is always separate from reality roughly proportional
(exponentially?) to the degree to which it reduces, simplifies, and slows
down reality;
6. Knowledge can be memorised, learnt by rote, without disturbing or
expanding mind;
7. Knowledge is always falsifiable, either because reality always moves on
past knowledge, or because a given model was set up wrong in the first place;
8. Knowledge, not wisdom, generates technologies - technologies can therefore
be "wrong", or wrongly applied from a "wise" perspective;
9. Knowledge creates rigid command-and-control hierarchies, and is used to
rank people and establish authority;
10. Knowledge can and is used to exploit nature, and in so doing, to create
obligations which are deferred to the future - deferral happens because
knowledge is always a simplification and slowing down of nature, especially
when knowledge is untempered by wisdom.

(I ask you to suspend disbelief for the rest of this note and part of the
next. It should all come together in the last part of Knowledge & Wisdom III.
In terms of whether I have this wisdom stuff right or not, you can either (1)
take me on faith or (2) do the research. Given my anti-guru stance,
especially as regards myself, I'd much rather you pick (2).)
Wisdom, it seems to me, is a far different thing from knowledge. Some would
place it at the opposite end of some kind of spectrum as they attempt to
rationalize a place for it amongst knowledge. I cannot do that. Wisdom, to
me, is an expression of the fullness of reality profoundly different from
knowledge, which we can, from time to time, access, provided we are truly
open and aware.
What follows from this conjecture is that wisdom is:
1. Non-persistent, instant-by-instant, situation to situation;
2. In lock-step with all of the processes of reality;
3. Unique from access to access, and from instant to instant;
4. Not sortable or countable;
5. Purely qualitative
6. Always dynamic, changing with the ebb and flow of reality;
7. Not "smooth" and continuous;
8. Non-repeatable, and therefore not falsifiable;
9. Substantively connected to reality;
10. Not amenable to control, nor can it be used to control;
11. Not learnable mechanically, since it is non-repeatable;
12. Not able to be tested rationally, since it has no Eternity of Form.

What the above suggests is that a person operating completely in "wisdom"
mode will appear to be pulling suggestions and ideas capriciously out of thin
air which turn out, strangely, to be very appropriate to individual
situations which require immediate responses. Quite often, this "wise" person
will not be able to explain how she arrived at her suggestion, nor will she
ever come up with the same suggestion later on for another situation, which
seems "rationally" identical to an earlier one.
What is more remarkable is a relentlessly "wise" person and a trickster often
seem to be the same person, a Janus-faced entity whose unique wise suggestion
of the moment appears one instant to be the smartest thing which could have
been said, and the next as a subversive mischievous ploy designed to
aggravate, rather than ameliorate.
(There is a long multi-threaded multi-cultural sweep of legends in which the
sage and the trickster are embodied in the same figure. Westerners will
likely be familiar with Merlin, the Greek and Roman gods, Jehovah and Satan,
and so on. Trust me: every culture has had to deal with these creatures in
some way, which allowed them to exist. Any which have tried to expunge the
combined idea of the mage and the sage has come to grief - a major example of
recent times is the Soviet Union and all her followers. Another is the harsh
earlier flavour of the People's Republic of China which had tried to get rid
of Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism and myriad other deeply cultural beliefs.)
Most communities of cultures (societies, in other language) manage to make at
least tolerant accommodation for the wise and the tricky, allowing them to
flick in and out of public existence, as they will. For the most part these
communities of cultures toddle along without out a great deal of fuss. They
do not ever step out smartly and creatively into the future.
Some few communities of cultures do, however, celebrate their sages and
mages, all of them, using them as "reality tracking devices" and novelty
generators. For it is a given that mages and sages are exquisitely tuned to
reality's most fundamental and profound drivers and processes at every
instant they have access, and it is equally true that each of their accesses
will be unique, and therefore, fresh.
Why would we need more than one mage and/or sage per community? As far as I
can tell, no single individual human has ever been able to maintain
*continuous* access to all of reality and remain sufficiently human to
communicate back to the rest of us. It seems therefore as though a culture of
numbers of such individuals must be available and viable, and of course in
communication with each other (whence the "culture" of mages and sages). If
such a culture is sufficiently complex and viable, much better
instant-by-instant reality-tracking is available.


The following spins off from earlier Knowledge & Wisdom notes, and talks a
bit about earlier the "frames and overlays" notion as it relates to Knowledge
& Wisdom.

1. The integration of knowledge and wisdom means that a researcher must allow
her "wisdom side" to moderate what she does with the knowledge she wishes to
use. This amounts to not marrying any one model or theory, and in fact
re-synthesising over and over from a large number of possible models or
theories as her wisdom-directed mind deals with *real* situations in
near-real-time. As she learns to allow access to wisdom to invade her
theorisation, she will find that the number of possible theoretical schemes
available to her multiplies *without bound*. With practise, she eventually
learns to select from that ever-shifting kit of theories with good speed, but
without binding herself to any one of them just because it might have worked
for her in the past.

(It is curious that people who have learnt to do and practise this kind of
integration are often called "geniuses". It occurs to me that if such a
person is a genius, then she has become one by *not* doing something that
everybody else does. An interesting conjecture.)

2. In terms of the frames and overlays method of doing analysis (there are
many other ways of skinning that particular cat, by the way), the integrated
researcher will never consider any frame or overlay a finished product.
Furthermore, she will never automatically transfer any frame or overlay to
another scenario intact. She'll not *expect* that what she has done in one
situation, frame, overlay *or* even basic methodology, will map over to
another without re-accessing wisdom over and over again. Every situation is
unique to her, and every instant of the same situation changes it into
something that is unique from the previous instant. In other words, change
all round is what happens, and change is what must always be accommodated in
generating frames, overlays, and any manipulative methodology the researcher
might choose.

3. Basic methodologies such as maths, statistics and protocols are all to be
taken as no more than options in how one goes about doing research. Even the
sum of all knowledge brought up to the very latest date is no more than part
of the integrated researcher's toolkit, to be rated as to appropriateness and
usefulness under the direction of wisdom.

It is important to note that a person who has access to wisdom will seldom
call herself an "expert" or "guru", nor will she permit others to hang
those labels on her. Anybody who deals with wisdom knows well that the
connexion is not continuous, that she had little to do with establishing
that connexion, and that anything which arrives to her over that connexion
comes from outside of the realm of knowledge. Wisdom access cannot be
learnt, only acquired the way one acquires any communications channel such
as natural language. If kudos are to be, they can only be applied to the
diligence (and thick skin in this acrimonious world) one needs to practise
wisdom in all things.


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