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Why Wisdom?

For a while I thought that wisdom was a quality that one acquires with age, like a good red wine gets even more tasty with time, persons become wise with years passing. They take decisions and act based on their experience and knowledge. And then I experienced that elderly persons can take decisions which are not beneficial to them or to others and much younger ones took savvy ones. So what is wisdom?

by Simone Junod

The Oxford English Dictionary defines wisdom as "Capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgement in the choice of means and ends; sometimes, less strictly, sound sense, esp. in practical affairs: opp. to folly;" also "Knowledge (esp. of a high or abstruse kind); enlightenment, learning, erudition”. (1)

In his second book, the Israeli historian and author Yuval Noah Harari speaks of a new religion he calls “data religion” or “dataism” which “puts together the fact that “the life sciences have come to see organisms as biochemical algorithms” with the fact that “computer scientists have learned to engineer increasingly sophisticated electronic algorithms”. “Dataism thereby collapses the barrier between animals and machines, and expects electronic algorithms to eventually decipher and outperform biochemical algorithms”. (2)

“Dataists believe that humans can no longer cope with the immense flows of data, hence they cannot distil data into information, let alone into knowledge or wisdom…. In practice it means that Dataists are sceptical about human knowledge and wisdom, and prefer to put their trust in Big Data and computer algorithms.” (3)

Is it wise to entrust our choices and decision-making processes to predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and algorithms? Can these provide “Capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgement in the choice of means and ends”? Would this be beneficial to our personal lives? To our economies? And to humanity?

We would lose our humanity. We would lose meaning and purpose in our life.

Wisdom is more than ever necessary. In every sphere of live, in everyday life.

From an old tradition I heard this definition of wisdom: wisdom is to know the source of everything. So each time you see a product or a picture ask yourself: Where does it come from? Where is the source? How was it produced?
A complicated algorithm cannot be the answer.

In the Inuit tradition, developing wisdom was one of the aims of teaching. An Inuit Elder said that a person became wise when they could see what needed to be done and did it successfully without being told what to do. (1)

In mythology the ancient Greeks considered wisdom to be an important virtue, personified as the goddesses Methis and Athena. (1)

This is the wisdom Athena Wisdom Institute AG wishes to convey to everyone willing to grow, to find and have meaning in every action of their lives. To everyone aiming at making a difference and becoming an inspirational leader for oneself, for one’s teams and organisations.

So WISDOM can also be defined in this way:

W: Why are you here?
I: Impact – which impact do you want to have?
S: Search – explore who you are
D: Dreams – what are your dreams?
O: Outcome – what legacy do you want to leave behind?
M: Meaning – what provides you meaning?


(1) Wikipedia
(2) Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari – Vintage – p. 428
(3) Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari – Vintage – p. 429