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The Paradoxical Nature of Personal Wisdom and Its Relation to Human Development in the Reflective, Cognitive, and Affective Domains

  • Monika Ardelt
  • W. Andrew Achenbaum
  • Hunhui Oh
Chapter

Abstract

The concept of wisdom has long defied easy definition and operationalization, although many scholars agree that one essential feature is its paradoxical nature. There is also a growing consensus that wisdom includes a combination of reflective, cognitive, and affective dimensions. In this chapter, we elaborate paradoxical aspects of the concept of wisdom by illuminating how divergent facets in its three dimensions come together. The paradoxes discussed are (1) “I know that I do not know,” (2) a will-not-to-will and an act of nonaction, (3) loss is gain, and (4) liberation through the acceptance of limitations in the reflective dimension; (1) wise judgment in the face of uncertainty, (2) the foolishness of the wise and the wisdom of fools, and (3) wisdom is timeless and universal yet relative and changing in the cognitive dimension; and (1) self-development through selflessness, (2) involvement through detachment, and (3) change through acceptance in the affective dimension. We suggest that people who follow the paradoxical path to wisdom ultimately will gain liberation, truth, and a sense of unlimited love. Narratives of the life of Buddha are used to illustrate the individual paradoxes.

Keywords

Affective Dimension Human Limitation Ultimate Truth Universal Truth Wise Person 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Michel Ferrari, Nic Weststrate, Caroline Bassett, R.G. Desai, Dietmar H. Kaul, Collin Roughton, Ting Tseng, and Tarynn Witten for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Address correspondence to Monika Ardelt, University of Florida, Department of Sociology, 3219 Turlington Hall, P.O. Box 117330, Gainesville, FL 32611–7330. E-mail address: ardelt@ufl.edu.

A previous version of this chapter was presented at the 2004 Gerontological Society of America Annual Meetings in Washington, DC.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Ardelt
    • 1
  • W. Andrew Achenbaum
    • 2
  • Hunhui Oh
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Criminology & LawUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of Social WorkUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkSt. Ambrose UniversityDavenportUSA

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