Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Wise, the Knowledgeable, and the Intelligent

I just was thinking about the differences between intelligence, knowledge and wisdom. People confuse the three frequently (though less often than joy and happiness, which are also completely different).

Two main points I wanted to say:

1) Intelligence is the tool to soak up knowledge, and wisdom is the ability to use it well. *Knowledge is like the image a painter is trying to paint. You can see it there, but that is all. Knowledgeable people have all of the facts. Whether it was difficult for them to gain them is beside the point. They simply know things that they gathered from elsewhere. A person without knowledge is naive.
*Intelligence is the ability to process, put together and interpret the information. Everyone has some degree of intelligence that allows them to process most kinds of knowledge, and people who may be considered less intelligent just don't always get things. Personally, I believe you can be intelligent in one way, like in art or in science, while being incompetent in another. The more things a person is intelligent in increases his overall intelligence more, but if you think of autism, for instance, they may be intelligent in one specific aspect, and not understand other things very well. But that doesn't make them unintelligent, it just means their poker chips are stacked more in one place. Back to the painter analogy, here the painter can conceptualize their painting, and understand what they are doing, though they haven't begun to put their brush to the canvas just yet. Intelligent people may or may not know much. This is the more biological portion. An intelligent person has the ability to gather knowledge more quickly than someone who is less so. A person without intelligence is stupid.
*Wisdom is the action of using intelligence or knowledge. On the painter analogy, this is the ability to use the tools you have to actually put the picture you want on the canvas. With a lot of knowledge and intelligence and very little wisdom, the painter will end up with a product that resembles a five-year-old's watercolor project. You can gather all of the information you would like, but wisdom is needed to execute anything actually needed to be done with it. A person without wisdom is idiotic.

Of course, without knowledge, a wise person would have trouble executing anything, because they do not have enough information to know what they should convey. On that same note, wisdom without intelligence is difficult for similar reasons. It is hard to gain the knowledge needed without the intelligence. With all of that together... you can't blame a wise person for anything. If they were wise enough to research, and simply couldn't find information then they deserve forgiveness because they did the best they could.

2) Sometimes the intelligent have to be wise enough to set aside skepticism if they are to gain more knowledge.
A lot of smart people I see going the route of the skeptic in order to be either safe or lazy. This is a lack of wisdom on their part. There are times when it is good to hold back, but sometimes you just have to risk things to learn anything. If say, you are told to eat a new certain type of food. You know that you like one type of food far more, but you are told you would probably like this one. I would assume you probably wouldn't try the new food because you are wise enough to know you like the older one. On the flip side of that, if you are skeptical of the new food, and you are told you would like it more than what you have, and what you have is good but isn't really all that special, you would be more inclined to try the new food. But it is a risk to try new foods. you might not like it, or you might get sick. However, you will learn of a new food you like or of a new food you do not like in the taste test. Sometimes it is good to set aside your previous beliefs and attempt something new, or something you have not done in a long time.
Another way to think about it is with your beliefs. You have to really experience a community before you can make any judgements on their behavior, but a person who has gained knowledge from others and who has not risked it for themselves has little room to speak compared to the community itself. You have to take risks to learn sometimes.

My main point with all of this is just to say, don't confuse the three, and don't forget that while they all compliment each other well, wisdom is the only way you can really get what you want! Even with less of the other two, you make the decision to be wise and it is the only thing that can assist you to do your best.

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