Wisdom Books: Toward Wisdom by Copthorne Macdonald

Toward Wisdom addresses the nature of wisdom, humanity’s need for it, and ways and means of developing it.

The situation the world faces today is extremely complex. Long-cherished values have begun to conflict with each other: material comfort vs. an uncontaminated world; economic growth now vs. economic well-being for our grandchildren. Toward Wisdom takes the position that the only way to make the world a better place is to make it a wiser place. Wisdom is no longer an option or a frill. We, and the world, need wisdom-based analyses of our problems followed by wisdom-based action.

In the past, becoming wise was left to chance; a few people became wise before they died, but most did not. This lackadaisical approach will no longer do. Wisdom can be developed intentionally, and Toward Wisdom shows us how. The book examines some of the key impediments to wisdom — what they are, how they work, how they came to be — and introduces us to techniques for getting beyond them.

About the Author
Copthorne Macdonald is a writer, independent scholar, and former communication systems engineer. He writes about wisdom, personal growth, the nature of reality, and creating a sustainable future. His published works include six books (two on the subject of wisdom) and over 130 articles, reviews, and column installments.

Cop is also the owner of the biggest Wisdom website on the net called The Wisdom Page which is a website dedicated to helping us better understand wisdom — that vitally important but poorly understood pinnacle of human functioning.


An excerpt from Chapter 1 of Toward Wisdom:

Chapter 1 — What is Wisdom?

Wisdom is not one thing; it is a whole array of better-than-ordinary ways of being, and living, and dealing with the world. Because of this, and because individual wise people express wisdom’s characteristics in different ways and to different degrees, this chapter’s question has no brief answer.

Short statements about wisdom can be helpful as long as we realize that each expresses only part of the truth. We could say, for example, that wisdom involves:

  • seeing things clearly; seeing things as they are
  • acting in prudent and effective ways
  • acting with the well-being of the whole in mind
  • deeply understanding the human/cosmic situation
  • knowing when to act and when not to act
  • being able to handle whatever arises with peace of mind and an effective, compassionate, holistic response
  • being able to anticipate potential problems and avoid them

Each statement helps clarify some aspect of wisdom, but none tells the whole story.

The self-actualizing and ego-transcending people that Abraham Maslow studied were wise people, and Maslow’s writings tell us much about the nature of wisdom. Maslow’s self-actualizers focused on concerns outside of themselves; they liked solitude and privacy more than the average person, and they tended to be more detached than ordinary from the dictates and expectations of their culture. They were inner-directed people. They were creative, too, and appreciated the world around them with a sense of awe and wonder. In love relationships they respected the other’s individuality and felt joy at the other’s successes. They gave more love than most people, and needed less. Central to their lives was a set of values that Maslow called the Being-Values, or B-Values: wholeness, perfection, completion, justice, aliveness, richness, simplicity, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, effortlessness, playfulness, truth, honesty, reality, self-sufficiency.

 

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