Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: From wisdom-related knowledge to wise acts : refashioning the concept of wisdom to improve our chances of becoming wiser
Author: Rowson, Jonathan
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2009
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Numerous authors have argued that the world needs wisdom, but after decades of scholarship the concept remains unclear. The research challenge is that wisdom is a premodern notion (folksy, religious) relying largely on the tools of modernity (definition, measurement) to find a place in the postmodern world (polymorphous, multi-vocal). This thesis is a personal attempt to honour each of these perspectives, and to make the idea of wisdom more tractable and relevant. In part one, my literature review indicates that the field places undue emphasis on defining wisdom, requires more inter-disciplinary inquiry, and pays insufficient attention to the connection between the descriptive and normative aspects of wisdom. I indicate why wisdom persistently eludes a canonical definition and argue that wisdom is better understood as a meme. My method is a form of bricolage based on reflexivity, semistructured interviews about selected wisdom-related stories, and a scientifically informed theoretical argument. In part two, I position wisdom in relation to academic structures, especially the disciplines of philosophy and psychology. I outline a view of human nature that helps to illuminate the process of becoming wiser, informed by theories of adult development and enactive cognition. I analyse the distinct epistemological challenges posed by wisdom, and argue that these are best accommodated through a constructivist view of knowledge. In part three, wisdom emerges as a process and product of transformative learning, best understood with respect to the idea of self, and the task of coming to experience its groundlessness. In part four, I examine seven natural constraints on this process; biological division, naive realism, self-deception, self-serving bias, negativity bias, groupthink, and status anxiety. I argue that overcoming these constraints is the challenge that the concept of wisdom illuminates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available