Saturday, January 12, 2008

If knowledge suffices then wisdom is superfluos

The least I seek here is to try to transmit wisdom, since I am too well aware of how correct Hermann Hesse was when in Siddhartha he wrote 'Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish...Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom."

And much less do I seek to transmit something as a wise man, since I recognize well the impossibility of being one; something clearly summarized by Socrates arguing that the only possible human wisdom is to know oneself not wise, or only possessing wisdom absolutely devoid of value.

But both you and I, perhaps not in our minds, but definitely in our hearts, nonetheless know, or intuit, or want to believe, there is someone who is wiser than other. Where? We do not know, surely not among the besserwisser. Where then? Assuming it has to do with God is a good start.

I say this because in a world with so much information and so much knowledge, time after time we face the dilemma of if knowledge is enough, then wisdom is superfluous and worthless; and I fear that those words contain the danger that we will get bogged down forever in a knowledge dictatorship.

With no doubt our society is being increasingly cornered by producers and worshipers of information and knowledge, who do not leave space enough for questioners to put their information and knowledge in a more correct perspective.

The above occurs in all fields. For example, in the financial area that is the only possible explanation for why our financial regulators so ingenuously assigned so much power of decision over the financial flows to some few and humanly fallible credit rating agencies.

What a pity that nobody read to regulators from the Apology of Plato, where speaking as Socrates says. "Artisans have real knowledge of their arts, but take that to mean that they are most wise with respect to the most important matters”. As I see it this hubris filled petulance spoils all their knowledge. 

And how do we rid ourselves of that knowledge dictatorship without having, like some of our primitives, resort to that remedy worse than the disease that is the cult of dis-information and ignorance? 

That’s not easy, but at least I think we have a better chance of doing so if we can prevent the configuration of incestuous technocratic majorities in our decision-making bodies. Multidisciplinary teams, with great variety of experience and lots of humility, are the ones that should configure our boards and ministries.

I introduce the factor of humility, because one of the main reasons the world is going through current financial turbulence, is because many expert professionals simply did not know, or did not dare to recognize, as Socrates did, that they did not understand anything of what they were approving.

Friends, let us remember that not understanding what happens, not necessarily make us less aware of what is happening.