Wisdom and Knowledge

Yes, contrary to popular belief, the two (wisdom and knowledge) are different things. The two are, of course, interlinked, but that does not hinder their differences from being any less juxtaposed. To the naked eye, however, these things appear the same – as if they are synonymous, which is not the case.

Knowledge, as according to it’s Merriam-Webster definition, is knowing something through experience or association, as well as the range of one’s information and understanding. Also from the Merriam-Webster site, wisdom is accumulated philosophic learning, or in general, insight.

Wisdom is what goes beyond knowledge. (photo by Aldrin_Muya)

Wisdom is what goes beyond knowledge. (photo by Aldrin_Muya)

Now that we have clarified the denotations of the words, many of you are probably reading this now and are questioning, “Okay? They’re fundamentally the same thing. What’s your point?”

Well, if you look past the definitions – you can see that knowledge simply isn’t as deep as wisdom. If we were to look at this from an emotional perspective, it is safe to say that knowledge is in your head and wisdom is in your heart. In fact, there are many scriptures and quotes from various peoples, including philosophers and musicians, that agree with the philosophy as well. For what good is knowledge that sprouts from your mind, which is conditioned to forget over time? Things that stick with your heart affect you no matter how much time has passed.

For example, Jimi Hendrix has been quoted saying, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” Can you imagine your heart listening to your textbook? Can you imagine your textbook speaking to your heart? It simply does not happen (disregarding the love you may have for some sort of subject matter.) In another example, Lao Tzu says, “To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” Much like Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus Christ, among others, a philosophy of asceticism is pressed.

In respects to the Bible, one of my favorite theologians, Charles Spurgeon, has been quoted to have said this: “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” I find this to be an ultimately true statement; it seems the more we learn (the more logical we become, the more “adult” we are) the more we can’t understand (the more hard-hearted we are.)

However, even outside of a religious/philosophical viewpoint, wisdom can be viewed, as according to Rosetta Thurman, as a next step up. Sort of a mesh between specific and general education (basically, logical and emotional education.)

Why is this important, you ask? Well, frankly, wisdom and knowledge are two things we all should have. We all should desire to know more, both in our hearts and minds. Once you have acquired a good balance of both, then, you have, depending on what your goal was, achieved some sort of success – perhaps even some sort of enlightenment.

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