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Knowledge and Wisdom (Essay) Exercises

Knowledge and Wisdom (Exercises)

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. What are the factors that contribute to wisdom?

Answer:  In the essay "Knowledge and Wisdom", Bertrand Russell talks about several factors that contribute to wisdom. According to him, the factors that contribute to wisdom are:

i) a sense of proportion,

ii) aware comprehensiveness and feeling

iii) emancipation from personal prejudices

iv) impartiality and

v) intellectual element

b. What message does the writer try to convey with the examples of technicians?

Answer:  The writer tries to convey the message related to harms with the examples of technicians. According to him technical knowledge can be harmful to humankind if that knowledge is applied without wisdom. For example, the technicians become happy in lowering the infant death-rate in the world but it results lack of food supply and lowers the standard of life. Similarly, the knowledge of atomic theory can be misused in making atom bombs which destroys the human race.

c. Which leaders does Russell say were able to mix knowledge and wisdom soundly?

Answer:  According to Russell, the leaders like Queen Elizabeth I in England, Henry IV in France and Abraham Lincoln can mix knowledge and wisdom soundly. Queen Elizabeth I and Henry IV remained free from the errors of their time and both, by remaining free were beneficent and certainly not ineffective. Similarly, Abraham Lincoln conducted a great war without ever departing from wisdom.

d. Why is the wisdom needed not only in public ways but in private life equally?

Answer: Wisdom is not only needed in public ways but also used in private life equally. It is needed in the choice of ends to be pursued and in emancipation from personal prejudice. In the lack of wisdom, we may fail in choosing the target of our life and getting success in life.

e. What, according to Russell, is the true aim of education?

Answer: The true aim of education, according to Russell, is installing wisdom in people. It is wisdom that makes us utilize our knowledge in practical life purposefully without making any harm to humankind. Along with knowledge, people must have the wisdom to be good citizens.

f. Can wisdom be taught? If so, how?

Answer:  Yes, wisdom can be taught. The teaching of wisdom should have a larger intellectual element more than moral instruction. The disastrous results of hatred and narrow mindedness to those who feel them can be pointed out incidentally in the course of giving knowledge. For example, while teaching the composition of an atom, the disastrous results of it must be taught to eliminate its misuse such as making an atom bomb.

g. Why does the world need more wisdom in the future?

Answer: When we observe the growth of knowledge in various sectors in the present time, it is obvious that there will be even more development of knowledge in the future. In the absence of wisdom, most people are misusing knowledge bringing several negative impacts and this reality will continue in the future too if knowledge is not mixed with wisdom. It is only wisdom, that makes people use the acquired knowledge wisely. For a better future, more wisdom is needed.

Reference to the Context

a. According to Russell, "The Pursuit of Knowledge may become harmful unless it is combined with wisdom." Justify this statement.

Answer:  Humans are curious creatures and they always want to learn new things. Most people have spent their whole lives in pursuit of knowledge. Some pieces of knowledge are noble and beneficial for humans whereas sine pieces of knowledge are harmful to us. The knowledge which is combined with wisdom is useful for us because it addresses the total needs of mankind. The knowledge of atomic composition has become harmful to mankind because it is used in making bombs. Similarly, Hegal, though he had great knowledge about history, made the Germans believe that they were a master race. It led to the great disastrous wars. So, it is necessary to combine knowledge with the feeling of humanity. We need it an event to decide the aim of our life. It makes us free om personal prejudices. Even noble things are applied unwisely in the lack of wisdom.

b. What, according to Russell, is the essence of wisdom? And how can one acquire the very essence?

Answer:  According to Russell, the essence of wisdom is emancipation from the tyranny of being partiality. It makes our thoughts and feeling less personal and less concerned with our physical states. It is wisdom that makes us care and love the entire human race, it takes us into the higher stage of spirituality. It makes us be able to make the right decision, install a broad vision and unbiasedness in our minds. We can acquire the very essence by breaking the chain of the egoism of our sense, understanding the ends of human life, applying our knowledge wisely for the benefit of humans, finding noble and attainable goals of our life, controlling our sensory perceptions, being impartial gradually and loving others.

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