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1 - What Is Wisdom?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 October 2021

Robert J. Sternberg
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
Judith Glück
Affiliation:
Klagenfurt University
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Summary

This chapter defines wisdom and discusses its relevance to life. In particular, it highlights wisdom as the search for a common good, by balancing one’s own, others’, and larger interests over the long- as well as the short-term through the infusion of positive ethical values. The chapter gives an extended example of how this definition applies in a real-life-type of situation. The chapter discusses each of the elements of wisdom in detail. It also provides some quiz material for people to try out these ideas for themselves. It relates wisdom to moral development, discussing in particular Kohlberg’s theory. It also discusses the relevance of Haidt’s theory of morality to wisdom. It further discusses how wisdom relates to ethical action, presenting a model of how ethical thought proceeds and how it is translated into action. Finally, it discusses how wisdom can be applied through either adapting to the environment, shaping the environment, or selecting a new environment.

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Chapter
Information
Wisdom
The Psychology of Wise Thoughts, Words, and Deeds
, pp. 1 - 27
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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