How do knowledge, wisdom and experience intersect?


(Greek sophia). While in antiquity the professional teachers of W. were called sophists, the term philosophy (philosophia) implies that, in contrast to the omniscient divine, man is only one who constantly strives for W. This corresponds to the assertion of Socrates that only he is wise who recognizes the limitations of his human W. (anthropine sophia), i.e. can distinguish between what he knows and what he does not know. With Plato, sophia is one of the cardinal virtues that belongs to the highest, reasonable part of the soul. The philosopher is carried by the striving towards the vision of ideas, which arises from the inadequacy of one's own ignorance (Symposium). With Aristotle, too, sophia denotes the highest philosophical insight. The term denotes (as a virtue) not only the possession of knowledge, but also the lifestyle corresponding to the striving for insight, which is why the wise man stands as an ideal for the unity of knowledge and life. - In the further course too, W. describes perfect knowledge, not in the sense of a scientific system, but of the spiritual perfection that a person can attain through study and life experience. Schopenhauer sums up W.'s understanding in the sentence: “Wisdom seems to me to denote not only theoretical, but also practical perfection. I would define it as the perfect, correct knowledge of things as a whole and in general, which has permeated man so completely that it now also emerges in his actions by guiding his actions everywhere "(Paralipomena, § 339).


  • W. Oelmüller (ed.): Philosophy and wisdom. Paderborn et al. 1989.