This engaging interview was with Copthorne Macdonald, author and creator of the very successful Wisdom Page, and Nicholas Maxwell, author, thought leader and professor who wrote the book (literally): From Knowledge to Wisdom. Both Cop and Nick were also featured in the book Living a Life of Value, and especially now that Cop has passed away, the values and wisdom he promulgated while alive is all the more valuable. The careful listener will find much insight, inspiration, and plenty of wisdom quotes. For example, Cop encourages us with things such as this: On the bright side, we see the amazing power of individual wise people to change things for the better. Their accomplishments are all out of proportion to their numbers. Consider the best of each year’s nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, for instance. What would our world be like if there were millions with their dedication, skills, and wise perspectives on life?
Both experts in this field note that it is not easy, necessarily, to find the way forward. It certainly involves education, but also personal growth and individualized lifelong learning. Cop notes: “The situation the world faces today is incredibly complex. Long-cherished values have begun to conflict with each other: material comfort vs. an uncontaminated world; economic growth versus economic well-being for our grandchildren. And things just seem to get worse.” Certainly we don’t see much wisdom evident from politicians’ decisions and corporate leaders’ actions. We desperately need change; we need a revolution in wisdom, in fact.
Nicholas Maxwell, Lecturer at University College, London, adds the following about education and the unsurpassed utility and reward of philosophical discourse: “Failure to teach philosophy to five-year-olds, as a central, unifying part of the curriculum, is the result of mistaken assumptions about both children and philosophy.” He also sees the value of philosophical inquiry at the other, more advanced end of the educational spectrum, as well: “The primary intellectual aim of the humanities and social inquiry, quite generally, is to help us realize what is of value to us in our personal and social lives. What ultimately matters is personal and social progress towards enlightenment and wisdom: all academic progress is but a means to this end.”