Adversity, Wisdom, and Exemplarism
Adversity and wisdom
According to a venerable ideal, the core aim of philosophical practice is wisdom. The guiding concern of the ancient Greek, Indian, and Chinese traditions was the nature of the good life for human beings and the nature of reality. Those concerns converge in a foundational conception of wisdom as living a good – ‘flourishing’, ‘consummate’ – life, guided by a deep understanding of fundamental truths about our situation within the wider order of things. Wisdom manifests in ways of experiencing and engaging with the world, shaped by deep understanding of truths about it, and our relations to it.
This aspiration to wisdomtakes many forms, varying across times and traditions. Many are deeply metaphysically invested, invoking complex visions of reality, like the Platonic Forms, Buddhist ‘emptiness’, or the forms of Western monotheism . Other forms, of course, are more metaphysically modest, but still of a kind that many modern philosophers are apt to reject as overly...
I am very grateful to the editors, a referee, and especially to Amy Olberding for very helpful correspondence, which deepened and extended the ideas explored here.