Wisdom of the ages

Desmond, William (2010) Wisdom of the ages. In Character: a journal of everyday virtues. ISSN 1551-4919

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Wisdom has many faces, but perhaps the most familiar would be that of an older man with a strong, kind face, a steady expression, a profound beard, and eyes at once serious and laughing. So Yeats imagined some Chinese sages — “their ancient eyes, their ancient, glittering eyes were gay.” So too we might imagine a Confucius, Moses, Socrates, or Einstein, and so film directors have played on old associations when depicting figures like Gandalf or Dumbledore. In anthropomorphizing wisdom as an older person, we are no different from the vast majority of cultures, as elders are usually considered wise: the grandparents, veterans, senators (from Latin senex), the ancestors who were there at the beginning of the tribe. “You cannot put a wise head on young shoulders” goes the Irish proverb, and so too we talk of “modern science” but of “ancient wisdom,” as if wisdom could best be found among those peoples whose civilizations matured over centuries, like the ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, or Greeks.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Wisdom; Ancient Classics; Grec-Roman Culture; Ancient Chinese; Ancient Indians; Ancient Egyptians; Ancient Greeks.
Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Ancient Classics
Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Philosophy
Item ID: 1890
Depositing User: Dr William Desmond
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2010 11:11
Journal or Publication Title: In Character: a journal of everyday virtues
Publisher: John Templeton Foundation
Refereed: Yes

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