Wisdom Versus Love: If a Contest Who Wins?

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Back in the 19th century, some eminent philosophers and scientists, Francis Bacon inclusive, began to debate extent to which development of love vis-à-vis wisdom is essence of application of the scientific thought process and scientific techniques to natural philosophy or theology. The consensus during this period was that with evidence for a specific cadre of spirituality or religion taken as given, truths or essence of any cadre of spirituality or religion could be induced. Given deduction implies interpretation but not necessarily participation in creation of new knowledge, application of scientific thought and scientific tools required participation, as such induction over deduction.

Whenever any two words are juxtaposed there must be some salient difference between the two words. In absence of any difference in nuance one of two words is redundant. This is the reason not every synonym for a particular word is appropriate to every possible context.

Take for example, justice and fairness. Sometimes justice can be construed not to be totally fair. Sometimes fairness can be construed not to be totally just. The rationale? There is some subtle difference between the two words. A judge can be just yet unfair if while a minimum or appropriate sentence of 2 years is allowable by law, he is so upset he slams the maximum of 15 years on a guilty defendant. There is justice, yet justice is deemed unfair. When a child rapist gets 2 years in jail in presence of a maximum allowable of 15 years, it again can be argued that justice is unfair. Finally, when a former employee obtains financial redress for an unjust firing, but without acknowledgement of wrongdoing on part of a former employer, there is fairness, yet we can argue justice is not fully served.

But then I digress.

While the foregoing makes clear wisdom and love must differ in some specific essence, is it really possible to separate wisdom from love? If we work with secular definitions of wisdom and love, is it possible to act with wisdom, yet not demonstrate love, or vice versa?

The definition of wisdom alluded to by Francis Bacon is:

Wisdom is knowledge of what is proper or reasonable. Knowledge here as to do with ordering of relationships within society.

What then about love?

Love is benevolent goodwill toward humanity.

It does not matter how much of goodwill a judge has towards humanity, a child rapist is deserving of some punishment. Wisdom inherent in proper ordering of society demands goodwill be suspended for enactment of justice.

Whenever a company promotes people who are undeserving over those who are deserving, love supersedes wisdom. The desire to be benevolent to a politically connected person supersedes necessity of proper ordering of society.

If we view then wisdom and love from secular, as opposed to spiritual or religious definitions, we find the two principles do not coincide, with most important essence of deviation encapsulated by concept of justice.

If secular society is to be organized rightly, independent of any notions of spirituality or religion, wisdom — proper ordering of society comes first, justice, fairness, equity — enforcement of proper ordering of society comes second, love — benevolence towards those who conform with proper ordering of society comes third.

Is it possible then to reconcile secular ranking of love third with Christian ranking of love in so far as organization of societies or communities are concerned? If we switch from a secular to a Christian context, can we rationally switch ranking of love from third to first? I address viability or non-viability of rationality of the switch in ranking of love within context of Christian beliefs in my very next post. In that post I demonstrate how maintenance of secular ordering of wisdom, justice, and love is totally consistent with Christian ranking of love to be most important principle for ordering of interactions within society.

Written by

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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