Talk:Wisdom

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An Attempt at Organization[edit]

This page was huge and sort of willy-nilly. I thought I'd try to give it some organization by broadly categorizing it into era, which gives you a better sense of what's on the page in a short amount of time. Now, as you can see, I didn't know what era all the quotes fell into (what a scholar I would be if I did!), and I further imagine I'm flat wrong about a couple, and even further that some of the categories may be a little fuzzily defined on the edges. You may choose to fix any of this, but I hope the effort has been successful, and a good start. Stancollins 15:33, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

GNU Fortune[edit]

If you find a solution and become attached to it, the solution may become
your next problem.
Given a choice between grief and nothing, I'd choose grief.
                -- William Faulkner

Wisdom?[edit]

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong. ~ Lao Zi (Lao-Tzu)

This quotation seems to have nothing to do with wisdom!

"A wise man speaks..."[edit]

For a discussion of the source of this quote (perhaps traceable to Elements of Rhetoric by Richard Whately, 1858) see a post on Language Log. --Levana Taylor 22:58, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Unsourced[edit]

Classical/ancient[edit]

  • It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish. ~ Aeschylus
  • Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own. ~ Aesop
  • Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise. ~ Cato
  • By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~ Confucius
  • There are many who know many things, yet are lacking in wisdom. ~ Democritus
  • The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man. ~ Euripides
  • To the fool, he who speaks wisdom will sound foolish. ~ Euripides
  • Better Weight
    than wisdom
    a traveller cannot carry.
    The poor man's strength
    in a strange place,
    worth more than wealth. ~ Hávamál, The Sayings of the Vikings.
  • Men who love wisdom should acquaint themselves with a great many particulars. ~ Heraclitus
  • Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. ~ Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:16).
  • Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong. ~ Lao Zi (Lao-Tzu)
  • Wise men hear and see as little children do. ~ Lao-Tzu.
  • Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. ~ Proverbs 9:10.
  • Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
  • Wisdom begins in wonder. ~ Socrates
    • Variant: Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
  • And in knowing, that you know nothing, makes you the smartest of all. ~ Socrates
  • My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment. ~ Solomon ~ Proverbs 2:1-6 ; New World Translation
  • Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness. ~ Sophocles.
  • Much wisdom often goes with brevity of speech. ~ Sophocles (497–406/5 BC), Greek tragedian. Fragments, l. 89 (Aletes).
  • In the wisdom of his heart a wise man ought to adorn himself with wise precepts. ~ Anglo-Saxon Proverb from 'A Collection of Proverbs', Anglo-Saxon Prose, translated by Michael Swaton, J. M. Dent (1993).

Medieval/Renaissance/Enlightenment[edit]

  • A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. ~ Francis Bacon
  • There is no great concurrence between learning and wisdom. ~ Francis Bacon
  • Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish. ~ Anne Bradstreet
  • It should be noted that the seeds of wisdom that are to bear fruit in the intellect are sown less by critical studies and learned monographs than by insights, broad impressions, and flashes of intuition. ~ Carl von Clausewitz
  • The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotations. ~ Isaac D'Israeli
  • All human wisdom is summed up in two words - wait and hope. ~ Alexandre Dumas
  • A wise man will desire no more than what he may get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly. ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • In seeking wisdom, the first step is silence; the second, listening; the third, remembering; the fourth, practicing; the fifth, teaching others. ~ Ibn Gabirol
  • Wisdom, properly so called, is nothing else but this: the perfect knowledge of the truth in all matters whatsoever. ~ Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), British philosopher. From the dedication, in De Cive (1642).
  • A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. ~ David Hume
  • Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best ends by the best means. ~ Francis Hutcheson, Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, I. v.
  • Honesty is the first chapter in the Book of wisdom. Let it be our endeavor to merit the character of a just nation. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • To keep your secret is wisdom; to expect others to keep it is folly. ~ Samuel Johnson
  • Wisdom hath her excesses, and no less need of moderation than folly. ~ Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), French essayist and aphorist. Upon Some Verses of Virgil, Bk. 3, Ch. 5, Essays, translated by John Florio (1588).

Later 18th and 19th century[edit]

  • The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom; for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough. ~ William Blake
  • Be humble, if thou would'st attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still, when Wisdom thou hast mastered. ~ Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
  • Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
    Have oft-times no connexion, Knowledge dwells
    in heads replete with thoughts of other men,
    Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
  • Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
    Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
    • William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book VI, "Winter Walk at Noon", l. 96.
  • In our age... men seem more than ever prone to confuse wisdom with knowledge, and knowledge with information, and to try to solve problems of life in terms of engineering. ~ T.S. Eliot
  • The wise through excess of wisdom is made a fool. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), American essayist, poet, aphorist. "Experience", Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, Ch. 8 (1836).
  • It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. ~ Immanuel Kant
  • The hunger for facile wisdom is the root of all false philosophy. ~ George Santayana (1863-1952), American philosopher, essayist. Reason in Religion, Ch. 2 (1945).
  • To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
  • With wisdom we shall learn liberality. ~ Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), American author. Walden (1854).
  • As I slowly grow wise I briskly grow cautious.
    • Mark Twain, "English as She Is Taught", Century Magazine, May 1887,as reprinted in Essays and Sketches of Mark Twain (1995), ed. Stuart Miller, ISBN 1566198798
  • We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it— and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again— and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. ~ Mark Twain
  • Re-examine all you have been told . . . Dismiss what insults your Soul. ~ Walt Whitman

Modern era (20th/21st centuries)[edit]

  • The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ~ Isaac Asimov, Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988).
  • Never regret something you've done, even if it was wrong, it still can be a great piece of memory that someday made you smile, or made you cry. ~ Feras Yaghmour
  • Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner. ~ General Omar Bradley
  • A man doesn't begin to attain wisdom until he recognizes that he is no longer indispensable. ~ Admiral Richard E. Byrd
  • When you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wise. ~ Whittaker Chambers
  • Wisdom is the constant questioning of where you are. And when you stop wanting to know, you're dead. ~ Billy Connolly, Daily Express, 29th October 2008.
  • Wisdom is founded on memory; happiness on forgetfulness. ~ Mason Cooley (1927-2002), U.S. aphorist. City Aphorisms, Sixth Selection (1989).
  • A word to the wise ain't necessary. It's the stupid ones who need the advice. ~ Bill Cosby
  • Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences. ~ Norman Cousins, Saturday Review magazine, 15th April 1978.
  • It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it. ~ Stephen Covey
  • Philosophy is harmonized knowledge making a harmonious life; it is the self-discipline which lifts us to serenity and freedom. Knowledge is power, but only wisdom is liberty. ~ Will Durant
  • Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it. ~ Albert Einstein
  • Wisdom is meaningless until our own experience has given it meaning...and there is wisdom in the selection of wisdom. ~ Bergen Evans
  • A poet begins in delight and ends in wisdom. ~ Robert Frost
  • Sometimes out of ignorance childish wisdom spills out. ~ Stephen Fry, British comic actor, author and presenter. A comment on one of his guests' answers, in the BBC 2 television programme, QI XL, 23rd January 2010.
  • The wisdom of others remains dull till it is writ over with our own blood. ~ Eric Hoffer (1902–1983), American philosopher. The Passionate State of Mind (1955).
  • If Wisdom was before all, and through wisdom all things are ordered, then Wisdom is the true verdict of morality in view of eternity. For that which was before time, by nature, transcends all things temporal. And that which is above, exposes those things that are below, as vapors rising fleetingly before the Sun. ~ Elika S. Kohen
  • Wisdom is an inheritance which a wastrel cannot exhaust. ~ Karl Kraus (1874–1936), Austrian satirist ansd aphorist. Sprüche und Widersprüche, Ch. 4 (1909).
  • The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions. ~ Claude Levi-Strauss
  • It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf. ~ Walter Lippman
  • The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. ~ H. L. Mencken
  • Information isn't wisdom. Information isn't learning. If information were learning, you could be educated by memorizing the world almanac. If you did that, you wouldn't be educated. You'd be weird ~ David McCullough
  • Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two. ~ Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. The Times (UK) newspaper, 8th June 1989
  • I think that wisdom is the ability to cope. ~ Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • The most basic inherent constraint is that neither time nor wisdom are free goods available in unlimited quantity. This means that in social processes, as in economic processes, it is not only impossible to attain perfection but irrational to seek perfection— or even to seek the "best possible" result in each separate instance. ~ Thomas Sowell
  • A man never reaches that dizzy height of wisdom when he can no longer be led by the nose. ~ Mark Twain
  • A man with wisdom is better off than a stupid man with any amount of charms and superstition. ~ Feras Yaghmour
  • Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. Lin Yutang
  • I distrust all dead and mechanical formulas for expressing anything connected with human affairs and human personalities. Putting human affairs in exact formulas shows in itself a lack of the sense of humor and therefore a lack of wisdom.
    • The Importance of Living (1937), Ch. I : The Awakening
  • To act with common sense according to the moment, is the best wisdom I know and the best philosophy is to do one's duties, take the world as it comes submit respectfully to one's lot; bless the goodness that has given us so much happiness with it, whatever it is; and despise affectation. ~ Horace Walpole

Unattributed/anonymous[edit]

  • To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid
  • A counsellor who understands proverbs soon sets matters right. ~ Anonymous
  • A man may be born to wealth, but wisdom comes only with length of days. ~ Anonymous
  • Age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone. ~ Unknown
  • Don't fix it if it ain't broken. ~ Anonymous American saying
    • Variant: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. (Note the deliberate omission of the 'n' after 'broke'.).
  • Know thyself better than he who speaks of thee. ~ Anonymous
  • Knowledge cuts up the world. Wisdom makes it whole. ~ Brazilian proverb
  • Not to know is bad, not to wish to know is worse. ~ Anonymous
  • Humility and knowledge breed wisdom. ~ Anonymous
  • There is wisdom in knowing what you need to know, and being wise enough to keep it to yourself. ~ Anonymous
  • A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. ~ Frequently attributed to Plato, but not apparently found in his work
  • There is no greater sorrow than knowing everything, because we humans live for the questions. ~ Anonymous
  • Knowledge is a gift, those who have it give, those who don't, recieve. ~ Anonymous

Uncategorized[edit]

  • Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. ~ Lin Yutang
  • Even stupid things should be done wisely. ~ Jacek Bukowski.
  • Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit. ~ Elbert Hubbard
  • For as it is the chief concern of wise men to retrench the evils of life by the reasonings of philosophy; it is the employment of fools to multiply them by the sentiments of superstition. ~ Joseph Addison
  • Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life. ~ George Arliss
  • In that the wisdom of the few becomes available to the many, there is progress in human affairs; without it, the static routine of tradition continues. ~ Jospeh Jastrow
  • It is astonishing with how little wisdom mankind can be governed, when that little wisdom is its own. ~ W. R. Inge
  • It is for the wise people who delight in humanity, praise justice, despise their flatterers, and respect the truth. ~ Jeanne-Marie Roland
  • It is no longer enough to be smart— all the technological tools in the world add meaning and value only if they enhance our core values, the deepest part of our heart. Acquiring knowledge is no guarantee of practical, useful application. Wisdom implies a mature integration of appropriate knowledge, a seasoned ability to filter the inessential from the essential. ~ Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer in Chaos to Coherence.
  • It's not what you've been given, it's what you do with what you've got. ~ Eddi Reader
  • Make men wise, and by that very operation you make them free. Civil liberty follows as a consequence of this; no usurped power can stand against the artillery of opinion. ~ William Godwin
  • Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives. ~ Abba Eban
  • Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience. ~ James Boswell
  • Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living, the other helps you make a life. ~ Sandra Carey
  • One's first step in wisdom is to question everything— and one's last is to come to terms with everything. ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  • Preconcieved notions are the locks on the door to wisdom. ~ Merry Browne
  • Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy. ~Howard W. Newton
  • The biggest difficulty with mankind today is that our knowledge has increased so much faster than our wisdom ~ Frank Whitmore
  • The plainest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness: her state is like that of things in the regions above the moon, always clear and serene. ~ Michel de Montaigne
    • Variant: The highest of wisdom is continual cheerfulness: such a state, like the region above the moon, is always clear and serene.
  • The wise learn from the experience of others, and the creative know how to make a crumb of experience go a long way. ~ Eric Hoffer
  • Truth never plays false roles of any kind, which is why people are so surprised when meeting it. Everyone must decide whether he wants the uncompromising truth or a counterfeit version of truth. Real wisdom consists of recommending the truth to yourself at every opportunity. ~ Vernon Howard
  • We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me. ~ Jack Handy
  • Wisdom and goodness are twin-born, one heart Must hold both sisters, never seen apart. ~ William Cowper
  • Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it. ~ David Starr Jordan
  • Wise anger is like fire from a flint: there is great ado to get it out; and when it does come, it is out again immediately. ~ Matthew Henry
  • Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible. ~ Eric Hoffer
  • Knowledge is knowing that the street is one way, wisdom is looking both directions anyways. ~ Anonymous.
  • For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. ~ Solomon
  • Wise men say nothing in dangerous times. ~ Aesop
  • When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. ~ Mark Twain
  • I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf. ~ Walter Lippmann
  • All I know is that I know nothing. ~ Socrates
  • Above all else, the greatest gift and the most wondrous blessing hath ever been and will continue to be Wisdom. ~ Bahá'u'lláh
  • It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. ~ Thoreau
  • I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. ~ Thomas Carlyle
  • He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. ~ Gandalf, from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in The fellowship of the Rings, Bk. II, Ch 2.
  • The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. ~ William James (1842-1910).

Disputed[edit]

or Smollett?