Wisdom, considered the highest level of enlightenment, has not had a foothold in our education since Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum. Yet it is wisdom that ultimately promotes human flourishing and equips individuals with the sophistication to live life well. Wisdom is especially urgent if leaders and followers are to lead and follow well.
Wisdom is more critical and urgent than ever in today’s world. Stories of lack of discernment and sound judgment abound in the news. Comments such as “what were they thinking?” and “why did they do that?” reveal that wisdom is often painfully lacking when it comes to making decisions. The world needs people who judiciously discern and courageously implement innovative decisions at the right time and in the right way. But before wisdom can be adequately taught, it needs to be properly understood.
Historically, the study and acquisition of wisdom has been reserved to the philosophical and theological fields of study, often making wisdom appear esoteric, elusive, and mysterious. While relatively recent empirical attempts have led to certain quantifications and qualifications of wisdom, a comprehensive and cohesive model for understanding, teaching, and implementing general wisdom has yet to emerge. Unfortunately, philosophical and theological treatises on wisdom have been overly convoluted or mystical, making wisdom appear elusive for the lay person. The empirical traditions have overanalyzed the concept to make it almost formulaic and uninspiring.
This primer merges insights from the philosophical, theological, and empirical traditions to provide a simple model for understanding, acquiring, practicing, and teaching wisdom. This primer is unique is that it uses clear language to walk the readers through representative classical philosophical and religious works and empirical studies in lieu of jargon-filled meditations. As a result, the primer orients readers to think like philosophers, theologians, and social scientists by shepherding them through to the logic of previous works on wisdom. What also sets this work apart is its brevity without compromise to substance. This primer demonstrates that the complicated can be made relatively simple, and that brevity and profound meaning often walk hand in hand.
Ideal for emerging and established leaders, this book demonstrates that wisdom inspires confidence, establishes credibility, and helps us successfully navigate complex problems and promote human progress. This primer makes wisdom accessible and provides all soon-to-be, novice, and seasoned leaders with the understanding, dispositions, and skills to be discerning and virtuous people others will want to emulate and follow.