Friday, October 20, 2017

Wisdom Is Beyond Information and Knowledge

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Empire, Michigan
In the biblical books of Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs, the pinnacle of humanity's search for meaning is wisdom. Not information. Not knowledge. But wisdom. 

Many use the Internet to access information. Beyond that, few matriculate to knowledge. Precious few beyond that graduate to wisdom.

"For all its resources, the digital humanities makes a rookie mistake: It confuses more information for more knowledge. DH [The digital humanities] doesn’t know why it thinks it knows what it does not know. And that is an odd place for a science to be." (Timothy Brennan, "The Digital-Humanities Bust," The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 17, 2017)

Brennan, a professor of cultural studies at the University of Minnesota, goes on to say that the Digital-Humanities promotes ""digitization, classification, description and metadata, organization, and navigation." An amazing list, which leaves out that contradictory and negating quality of what is normally called "thinking." It would be a mistake to see this banishment of the concept as the passive by-product of a technical constraint. It is the aim of the entire operation." (Emphasis mine.)

It leaves out....   thinking. Few are the thinkers; fewer yet are the wise. Information is not knowledge, and is further yet from wisdom. (See The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters, by Tom Nichols.)

Wisdom is a deep well, requiring a lifetime spent in focus and discipline. Wisdom is a mile deep and an inch wide. Information is shallow, an inch deep and a mile wide. (See Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains.)

Information says "X is."

Knowledge says "This is how X is."

Wisdom says "This is why X is."

Information grows like mushrooms. Knowledge grows like an oak tree. Wisdom grows like a canyon. 

Ecclesiastes says,

There's nothing better than being wise,
Knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. 
Wisdom puts light in the eyes, 
And gives gentleness to words and manners.

Peterson, Eugene H.. The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 941).