We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Thomas Brewton on Locke's view of the centrality of wisdom and virtue in education:
Wisdom follows from the foundation of virtue. Wisdom is knowing how most effectively to manage one’s affairs with foresight. Acquiring it is a product of good temper, application of mind, and experience. Wisdom can only be initiated by the teacher, as it is a life-long process of learning from experience how to apply the lessons of virtue. What the teacher can do is to hinder the student from being cunning, what today we call playing the angles, or being street-smart (both of which are end products of John Dewey’s pragmatism, now taught as situation ethics, the idea that you make up the rules for each situation that arises).
Closely related to virtue and wisdom is the concept of good breeding, which flows from the love of God. What Locke meant by the term was an Aristotelian mean between extremes: the student should not be too bashful or gauche in dealing with other people, nor should he be prideful and too full of self-importance. He summarizes the aim as “not to think meanly of ourselves, and not to think meanly of others.” Ill breeding reveals itself in “too little care of pleasing or showing respect for those we have to do with.” The aim is “that general good will and regard for all people, which makes everyone have a care not to show in his carriage any contempt, disrespect, or neglect of them; but to express, according to the fashion and the way of that country, a respect and value for them according to their rank and condition.” Students are to be schooled against roughness, fault-finding (denunciation or ridicule), and being contradictory and captious.
Read entire here. Brewton's website here.Image is Locke - not our friend Tom Brewton.
BD, great post. Two posts about wisdom in 2 days. Here we go again. I think from what I read Locke is talking about teaching wisdom and not learning it from all men like Saturday's QQQ post. My apologies to Meta and Luther, I didn't mean to post anonymously, my wife was posting from my phone dictation and I did not tell her how to log in my name. I can understand a little bit better what Meta and Luther posted, but I'm still confused about what Locke wrote. Would he still consider getting wisdom from every man? Habu had a good post the other day of how he confronted a man who parked in a handicap spot. I learned a lot by how he handled the situation. I would have loved to have put some small ball bearings in the guy's gas tank. But that would be evil of me. I guess we can learn lessons from evil people, but how as people who honor wisdom and virtue ultimately confront evil people without being evil as well? It is almost impossible to ask. It's a good topic and I am glad you posted this.
It isn't so much 'getting' wisdom... as 'seeing' wisdom. Thereby gaining wisdom by 'seeing' how not to be. Jephnol touches on this below:
"wisdom makes room within our understanding for that which we do not know"
As to your second query... how to confront evil without being evil. I would venture that most 'evil' personages are egocentrically based. When we confront such evil we do it for the greater good. For me, that makes the difference. Habu's example for instance... the handicapped parking scofflaw thinking of self, Habu acting for the greater good. Though really I'm not entirely sure I understand your question... one doesn't have to resort to evil techniques to confront evil.
But perhaps we need consider what constitutes true 'evil'. I'm thinking our definitions may differ. That might even be a good subject for a post. The comments would be interesting I suspect.
As to the topic of the post. I found Brewton's essay to be more a yearning for the past than looking to the future. Locke's prescriptions, while mostly valid in the essence, lacking practical usefulness for most in this modern world. However cynical that may sound.
Unfortunately I did not take the time to read the article, but I am looking forward to doing that tomorrow. After a quick pre-read though this occurred to me, wisdom makes room within our understanding for that which we do not know as well as for what we do know.
Wisdom implies Knowing what you are
Knowing your place in the world,
Being able to take the wide view
With a due sense of proportion. 400BC
I think that is ultimate wisdom because it connotes applying knowledge and understanding that one society's wisdom may be a different wisdom than one's own. Taking the wide view is demonstrating an acceptance of that, and with that acceptance comes grace for the whole of human nature.
Good and evil are on a continuum. At what point on that linear path does a man who seeks wisdom stop and declare he can learn no more? Not a wise man.