Comprehensiveness alone, however, is not enough to constitute wisdom. There must be, also a certain awareness of the goals of human life. This may be illustrated by the study of history. Many eminent historians have done more harm than good because they viewed facts through the distorting medium of their own passions. Hegel had a philosophy of history which did not suffer from any lack of comprehensiveness, since it started from the earliest times and continued into an indefinite future. But the chief lesson of history which he sought to inculcate was that from the year A.D. 400 down to his own time Germany had been the most important nation and the standard- bearer of progress in the world. Perhaps one could stretch the comprehensiveness that constitutes wisdom to include not only intellect but also feeling. It is by no means uncommon to find men whose knowledge is wide but whose feelings are narrow. Such men lack what I am calling wisdom.
It is not only in public ways, but in private life equally, that wisdom is needed. It is needed in the choice of ends to be pursued and in emancipation from personal prejudice. Even an end which it would be noble to pursue if it were attainable may be pursued unwisely if it is inherently impossible of achievement Many men in past ages devoted their lives to a search for the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life. No doubt, if they could have found them, they would have conferred great benefits upon mankind, but as it was, their lives were wasted.
I think the essence of wisdom is emancipation, as far as possible, from the tyranny of the here and the now. We cannot help the egoism of our senses. Sight and sound and touch are bound up with our own bodies and cannot be made impersonal. ‘. Our emotions start similarly from ourselves. An infant feels hunger or discomfort. and is unaffected except by his own physical condition. Gradually with the years his horizon widens and in a proportion as his thoughts and feelings become less personal and less concerned with his own physical states, he achieves growing wisdom. This is of course a matter of degree. No one can view the world with complete impartiality; and If anyone could, he would hardly be able to remain alive. But it is possible to make a continual approach towards impartiality, on the one hand, by knowing things somewhat remote in time or space and, on the other hand, by giving to such things their due weight in our feelings. It is this approach towards impartiality that constitutes growth in wisdom.
Can wisdom in this sense be taught? And. if it can, should the teaching of it be one of the aims of education? I should answer both these question in the affirmative. We are told on Sundays that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. On the other six days of the week, we are exhorted to hate him. Is this nonsense? Substitute for neighbour Communist or anti- Communist, as the case may be. It might be objected that it is right to hate those who do harm. I do not think so. If you hate them it is only too likely that you will become equally harmful; and it is very unlikely that you will induce them to abandon their evil ways. Hatred of evil is itself a kind of bondage to evil. The way out is through understanding not through hate. Resistance, if it is to be effective in preventing the spread of evil, should be combined with the greatest degree of understanding and the smallest degree of force that is compatible with the survival of the good things that we wish to preserve.
It is commonly urged that a point of view such as I have been advocating is incompatible with vigour in action. I do not think history bears out this view. Queen Elizabeth I in England and Henry IV in France lived in a world where almost every-body was fanatical, either on the Protestant or on the Catholic side. Both remained free from the errors of their time, and both, by remaining free, were beneficent and certainly not ineffective. Abraham Lincoln conducted a great war without ever departing from what I have been calling wisdom.
I have said that in some degree wisdom can be taught. I think that this teaching should have a larger intellectual element that has been customary in what has been thought of as moral instruction. I think that the disastrous results of hatred and narrow-mindedness to those who feel them can be pointed out incidentally in the course of giving knowledge. I do not think that knowledge and morals ought to be too much separated. It is true that the kind of specialized knowledge which is required for various kinds of skills has very little to do with wisdom. But it should be supplemented in education by wider surveys calculated to put it in its place in the total of human activities. Even the best technicians should also be good citizens: and when I say ‘citizens’, I mean citizens of the world and not of this or that sect or nation. With every increase of knowledge and skill, wisdom becomes more necessary, for every such increase augments our capacity for realizing our purposes, and therefore augments our capacity for evil, if our purposes are unwise. The world needs wisdom as it has never needed it before; and if knowledge continues to increase, the world will need wisdom in the future even more than it does now.
- The author has not said
(a) Many historians have distorted history.
(b) Comprehensiveness includes feelings.
(c) Some have wide knowledge and narrow feelings.
(d) Hegel’s philosophy of history was not comprehensive.
- Wisdom, as defined by the writer, is needed
(a) for understanding problems
(b) for freeing from prejudice
(c) for attaining goals of life
(4) for thinking correctly
- “We cannot help the egoism of our senses.” What is meant by this line?
(a) Our senses do not need any help.
(b) Only egoists are not guided by their Senses.
(c) Senses cannot be impersonal.
(d) Senses of man should be controlled.
- The author gives the example of an infant in order 10
(a) prove that an infant has wisdom
(b) show that infants are human beings
(c) bring out the impact of education on an infant
(4) show that senses are more important in the case of an infant
- On what ground does the writer not like ‘hatred of evil’?
(a) This pollutes your mind.
(b) It is difficult to correct evil.
(c) The hater becomes a slave to evil.
(4) Hatred of evil implies hatred of good.
- The writer thinks that knowledge and morals should
(a) be a part of educational system
(b) not be separated
(c) be kept apart
(4) guide our actions
- Which of the following is the most appropriate title for the passage?
(a) Essentials of wisdom
(b) Wisdom – its attributes
(c) Constituents of wisdom
(d) Essential of wisdom and its teaching