Whatever Happened to "Wisdom"?: "Human Beings" or "Human Becomings?"

Philosophy and Culture 34 (6):71-87 (2007)


Sri Lanka completed eloquent pull Dage described the love of wisdom is a holistic, practical way of life, which of course requires an abstract, theoretical science of meditation, more importantly, it also contains many religious practices is legal, such as flexible do not rot the soul, bitter conduct regular ring legal, social and political reform program, sustained ethics reflection, body control, dietary rules and taboos. However, this Pythagorean philosophy as a better life to all the light and fade away In order to view at any time. The original philosophy of travel to another utterly abnormal interest in the pilgrimage of the way, that is abstract, a clear knowledge and commitment of this knowledge by the certainty of pursuit. "Knowledge" and "real management" into the vocabulary of philosophy In order systems, "smart" In order to become a college corridor in the West has been seriously neglected under the words. With the flow of time driving on the theory and psychiatric abstract admiration, which means practical wisdom, rhetoric and aesthetics into a whole都In order to two yuan regardless. Philosophy - the "love of wisdom" - in all intent and purposes都becomes In order to philo-episteme-"love of knowledge certainty." Started with the ancient Chinese culture, hope臘different. It is rooted in Confucianism, "the next school on up," the admonition of Chinese philosophy from the initial thinking on the road from the daily behavior persist in the pursuit of wisdom, relationships conducted by the "self" as the meaning of things by the event source. Everyone from family, community, political relations, to obtain a unique perspective, they participate in the growth of sperm heart and minds of thinking, their family and community relationships to adjust to a clearer, more meaningful position. Personal self-cultivation increased by the universe meaning, and meaning of the universe has increased over the coming anti-In order for individuals to provide a self fertile soil. For the eloquent Pythagoras, the holistic way of life he described as philosophia-"the love of wisdom"-while entailing the contemplation of abstract, theoretical science, involved much more importantly religious practices based upon the immortality of the soul, ascetic observances, a program of social and political reform, ethical reflection, a physical regimen, and even dietary prescriptions and prohibitions. But this conception of philosophy as a holistic vision of the good life faded in time, and gave way to the search for apodictic knowledge and its promise of certainty. "Knowledge" and "truth" became the vocabulary of systematic philosophy, and "wisdom" was banished from conversation in the corridors of the Western academy. The worship of the theoretically and spiritually abstract meant that in the fullness of time practical wisdom , rhetoric, and the aesthetic were relegated to the down side of a prevailing dualism. The Chinese cultural narrative unfolded differently. Grounded in the Confucian exhortation-"Study what is near at hand and aspire to what is lofty the next school on the up"-the Chinese philosophical narrative has from earliest times sustained a commitment to the pursuit of wisdom by understanding personal cultivation as the ultimate source of an emergent cosmic meaning. It is the revolution currently taking place within the Western philosophical community as an attempt to reinstate wisdom that provides an opening and an invitation to take Chinese philosophy and culture more seriously. An internal critique continues to be waged within professional Western philosophy under the many banners of process philosophy, hermeneutics, post-modernism, neo-pragmatism, neo-Marxism, deconstructionism, feminist philosophy , and so on, that takes as a shared target what Robert Solomon has called "the transcendental pretense"-idealism, objectivism, logocentrism, essentialism, the master narrative, "the myth of the given"-the familiar reductionistic "isms" that have emerged as putatively novel choices as philosophers switch horses on the merry-go-round of systematic philosophy. In place of a Cartesian philosophical language that privileges the function of clear and distinct ideas in our quest for an objective certainty, vocabularies of process, change, and indeed productive vagueness have increasingly come into vogue. These recent developments in Anglo-European philosophy itself have begun to foreground interpretative vocabularies more relevant to the articulation of Chinese culture. In this essay, I will argue that the pragmatic theory of truth as expounded by William James and particularly John Dewey is an attempt to reauthorize "wisdom" as a philosophical goal in the Western philosophical narrative. This development opens a space for a conversation between Deweyan pragmatism and Confucianism on how best to achieve it

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Roger T. Ames
Peking University

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