On Wisdom and Knowledge

“I was trying to explain the difference between wisdom and knowledge to Derek,” Mrs. Bowman said, “but I don’t think I really got through to him.”

“The difference is simple,” Mr. Magundi replied. “Knowledge is progressive, and wisdom is static. We improve in knowledge with every passing generation, and indeed with every passing day; but we have not improved in wisdom since the first man thought it might be a fine idea to eat that fruit after all. We pass our knowledge on to the next generation, by oral tradition or in writing. On the other hand, an individual can grow in wisdom, but for some paradoxical reason, no matter how desperately he tries to pass it on, no matter how many volumes he writes or fine speeches he makes, his wisdom dies with him, and the next generation must discover wisdom for itself.”

4 thoughts on “On Wisdom and Knowledge

  1. I usually explain it to my students this way,
    Knowledge is knowing the facts. – Snow is Cold. Parkas are warm.
    Understanding is knowing how the facts fit together. – Parkas protect people from Cold.
    Wisdom is making good choices based on Knowledge and Understanding. – I won’t need a parka if I spend the winter in the Bahamas.

  2. I always liked Richard Pryor’s version: You can learn alot by listening to old people – you don’t get to be old by being a fool. There’s lots of young “wise” men, they’re all dead…

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