The Three Levels of Wisdom

  • Tuomo Peltonen


This chapter develops the framework of wisdom that will be applied in the later empirical sections of the book. The framework contains three distinct but interrelated levels of wisdom that are called rational-analytical information, intuitive-experiential knowledge and philosophical wisdom. The first, rational-analytical information, produces knowledge on the basis of a rational decision-making model, often relying on formal techniques such as the cost-benefit analysis in economics. The second, intuitive-experiential understanding, proceeds from a more holistic reflection of the situation that employs intuitive insights to re-evaluate and enrich the outcomes of the rational analytics. Intuition is conceptualised as a set of embodied, emotionally charged and immediate flashes of insight and comprehension that emerge without conscious thinking or deliberate analysis. Noting some shortcomings in the discussions related to the ontology of intuition, the chapter then moves to outline the most wide-ranging level of wisdom, namely the Platonic-Socratic understanding of wisdom, or, sophia. Plato’s view on transcendental universals, or Forms, is used to build a perspective that equates wisdom with knowing and becoming familiar with the unchanging ultimates such as Truth, Beauty, Justice and Good. Plato’s metaphors like the Divided Line and the Cave, as well as the theory of the Philosopher-King are explained as part of the doctrine of philosophical wisdom. A brief discussion on the organisational structures and processes facilitating and inhibiting the pursuit of wisdom is presented, with a focus on bureaucracy, groupthink and new organisational forms. Finally, the chapter discusses the adaptation of the three-level framework for the analysis of empirical cases, arguing for a more Socratic understanding of philosophical wisdom as learned ignorance in the reading of the strategic decision-making examples.


Rational model Intuition Plato Socrates Wisdom Groupthink 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tuomo Peltonen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BusinessAalto UniversityHelsinkiFinland

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