Is WONDER IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM In one of our articles, we talked extensively about what wisdom is. We will do an overview of what it is before we go into the subject matter of this article. Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. Wisdom is one of the greatest qualities that a human being possesses. It is associated with attributes such as common sense, compassion, love, unbiased judgment, virtues, ethics, etc.
It was said that wisdom cannot be taught in the four walls of a classroom or training sessions. Wisdom can also be said to be the ability to think and make the right decisions based on experience, intelligence, and insight. Wisdom cannot be achieved without knowledge; this means that a person can be knowledgeable and yet not have wisdom.
A person cannot have wisdom without being knowledgeable. It is the amount of knowledge that you have that will determine the amount of wisdom you have. Although knowledge is not a determinant of how vast a person’s wisdom is but you cannot judge something you don’t have an understanding about.
There are misconceptions about what wisdom is, and there are connections between these words and wisdom too. The first thing people take wisdom for is knowledge. Knowledge is a learned fact, information, or skill acquired by education or the course of training. Wisdom is not knowledge in the sense that knowledge is gained over experience, while wisdom is the application of the knowledge we have accumulated with experience. They are connected such that knowledge is the basis of having wisdom.
Another thing people take wisdom for is understanding. Understanding is having a piece of basic knowledge about a subject matter. Understanding in a layman’s word is having a simple understanding of something. Understanding cannot be achieved without studying and learning about a particular thing. Without the understanding of such a thing, wisdom cannot be built in such a thing because making the right decision will be very difficult.
There are related such that without understanding, you can’t build wisdom. For instance, without a prior understanding of how a product manager should behave, improvising and making decisive decisions as a novice product manager will be very hard. Such a product manager will display incompetence in this role.
Furthermore, Wisdom is also taken for intelligence. Intelligence and wisdom almost have the same explanation, just a slight difference, which shows both are very far apart. Both can be said to be the ability to retain knowledge and use it to solve problems when necessary. But what is the difference? Intelligence is often displayed in the things that can be taught, while wisdom deals with more pressing issues in life. An intelligent person may pass with brilliant results in the academic circles, but a person of wisdom might fail if not positioned in the right place.
Let’s explain this better. A scientist once said he would have failed if he went into mathematics and arithmetic but made an excellent breakthrough in biology. What does this tell us? Intelligence can be easily displayed in academics but not in real-life matters. Wisdom helps to tackle real-life matters. A person might be intelligent and short of wisdom.
MEANING OF WONDER IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM
What does wonder mean?
Before we delve into this topic, we must have an understanding of what wonder means. Wonder means a feeling of amazement and admiration caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar. The phrase “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom” might sound new to many and familiar to few people. It was a phrase used by the popular scientist, Socrates. The phrase, as defined by Gilbert Mazzeo, is the natural curiosity and instincts you are given while you’re a child, fills up your awareness with a sense of wonder. He further says that as we grow older,
we begin the process of learning things that give us enough time to get more experienced, but a lose a little of the outlook on the life that our childhood started with. When we were little and growing up, we have some basic knowledge of what life looks like, but it will get to a point where we will be more exposed to some realities of life. Knowing that there are choices and decisions one must make in one’s life that might come with regrets or celebration.
It is important that we under the importance of wondering in life today; one has to wonder how the world works and why; and if it could somehow be improved. One can wonder how he became the person he is today or what combined to form who he is. Wondering will make you ask questions if you fit into something better. For instance, we tend to select our careers based on parental pressures, societal demands, or peer influence. Only a few numbers of people reflect on themselves and wonder what career fits them better. Reflecting on life (career paths, interests, and relationships) will aid in making wise decisions and threading the right path.
A retired crisis and risk management communications consultant, Mark Schannon added that to wonder means to look around you with a kind of innocence, a lack of judgment, and openness to experiencing things in ways you’d never imagined. He said this creates an ability to grow, to question what we once took for granted, and to delight in a perspective that may be real or absurd but is, at the same time, a way to take a break from our pressured, hectic lives and just experience.
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom simply means that the curiosity we have in knowing and learning new things makes us question things that we already know and are generally acceptable. It is the awareness that makes us seek the truth and attain wisdom. When we wonder about things, it creates an interesting awareness in us to investigate things not only to find out which is right but also to know why it is so.
The wise don’t claim to have all the answers; a wise person listens more than he speaks. Wonder creates an avenue to build wisdom through learning and questioning. One of the simple truths that we must know is that majority of all the discoveries and inventions today are a product of wonder and curiosity. The journey to these inventions and discoveries starts with curiosity. They ask themselves some questions like: Why is this thing like this? How can this thing become something better? But something like this can be created if we do this and this?
We know so much about poets, philosophers, scientists, inventors, and so on, learning from their knowledge and building on their insights but are often not encouraged to be like them. The reason is very simple, they are known as Black Sheep because of their questioning characters; some are school drop-outs, community outcasts. They don’t settle down structured beliefs and are not limited by rules, they find meaning to life out of their curiosity to want to know.
These people didn’t allow other people’s thoughts and opinions to affect them; they are not discouraged by what people are saying or doing to them. It is even certain that this set of people have gotten into problems for not living a “normal” person’s life; not following rules, challenging authorities, pushing boundaries, and creating ideas, inventions, and discoveries. The funny thing about it is that most of the alienated people then later became mini gods and significantly impacted mankind.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WONDER AND WISDOM
One might want to ask what is the connection between wonder and wisdom. The relationship between both is very obvious; when you wonder, you ask questions and also make inquiries, this leads to the further expansion of awareness. The more you ask questions, dig deep about a matter, the more curious you become. When you wonder, it creates an energy that wants to know more. Since wisdom is the application of knowledge using experience, wondering creates an avenue to gain experience. It is also important to note that wisdom only begins in wonder and is not wonder itself. When we reflect upon our lives and our relationship, we are set for the path of wisdom, but yet self-realization is not wisdom, but it is what sets you on the path to wisdom.
WHY IT IS GOOD TO WONDER
- It opens our understanding to the real truth: There is some truth that we just live with because someone lived that way. When we wonder, we become curious about know the real truth.
- It brings about discoveries: It was said above that discoveries and inventions are a product of curiosity and wonder. Discoveries and inventions are bound to surface once we wonder.
- It brings about self-realization: Wondering brings about self-realization. This sets our feet on the path to wisdom.
- It helps to build experience
- It helps to overcome mistakes easily
The following are some quotes related to this subject matter.
“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
“It is a happiness to wonder; — it is a happiness to dream.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Complete Stories and Poems
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it is with fear, has also given rise to religion.
To know what is impenetrable to us exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
― Albert Einstein, Living Philosophies