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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wisdom

I just read Learning to Love Growing Old by Jere Daniel on the Psychology Today website. I want to share with you the research findings on wisdom:

A team of European researchers -- no surprise there -- has taken on the challenge to isolate the features of wisdom in clinical detail. From their ongoing studies of the aging mind, psychologists Paul B. Baltes and Ursula M. Staudinger, both of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, define wisdom:
  • It's an expertise that wraps information in the human context of life and relates it to generational and historical flow.
  • It is factual and procedural knowledge about the world and human affairs.
  • It mingles insight and judgment involving complex and uncertain matters of the human condition; there is an appreciation for and understanding of the uncertainties of life.
  • It involves a fine-tuned coordination of cognition, motivation, and emotion, knowledge about the self and other people and society.
  • It carries knowledge about strategies to manage the peaks and valleys of life.
  • It integrates past, present, and future.

A product of cultural and knowledge-based factors, rather than biologically based mechanics of the mind, wisdom accumulates with time -- but only among those who remain open to new experiences. If we must insist on outwitting the constraints of biology, then wisdom -- and not the scalpel -- is our thing.

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