Re: Intelligence and wisdom

From: James Higgins (
Date: Tue Jul 16 2002 - 11:52:43 MDT

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> I don't *think* that intelligence equates to the characteristics we call
> "wisdom" for all minds in general, but in humans, it looks like if you
> throw more intelligence and knowledge at the brain than it is
> evolutionarily prepared to handle, it turns wise. Evolution is

I might agree with that general statement about wisdom vs intelligence,
except that it also takes significant time for the process to occur.

Something along the lines of:

        Intelligence + knowledge/experience * time = wisdom

> Some people have only met "intelligent" people whose rationalization
> matched pace with their ratiocination, and they come away with the idea
> that intelligence is just a greater ability to rationalize wrong ideas;
> increased facility with verbal argument but no actual increase in
> smartness. In my experience this is what people have in mind when they
> say "Intelligence does not equal wisdom", and for this reason I really

Ok, this I know is not the case (at least for myself). I'm no genious
but there is a clear distinction betwee the way I think & process
information and most other people. This is obvious because it gets very
frustrating when most people just don't "get it" regularly. This is why
I tend to associate mostly with smart people, so I definately don't
suffer from what you suggest.

Yet I still maintain that "Intelligence does not equal wisdom". That is
because 10 years ago I was equally intelligent but, looking back, I was
much less wise. It takes time and introspection to be able to see this.
  I don't think, for the majority of cases, the human mind has had
sufficient experience by age ~20 to enable this. In the late teens a
smart person probably has all the mental building blocks in place, but
having just gotten them properly assembled they have little run-time
experience with them.

> The problem of discussing "wisdom" is that everyone's had at least a few
> thoughts they consider "wise". In many cases they've gone through a lot

Hmm, I don't know that I would consider any one thought as wise. More
like wisdom is the general quality of thought (but that isn't quite
right - I just can't come up with a better term at the moment).

> of hell to acquire whatever lesson they learned, and they really don't
> want to hear that they've learned the wrong lesson from it. If you have

Some of us want, very much, to know if we learned the wrong lesson.

James Higgins

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