Monday, February 06, 2006

Confusius say...

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.


Confucius

551 BC - 479 BC

14 comments:

neal said...

I think Confucius was wrong on this one. True wisdom cannot be learned by imitation. You either gain it by enlightened reflection or by your lifes experiences.

On a side note I think it is a parents job, and also one it seems we are doomed to fail at, to instil wisdom in our children. We try to pass on our experiences so they won't have to learn them the hard way. I know I never listened to my father and now I realize he was right on about 99% of the things he said. I hope my son learns from me...

Ellen said...

And some people never learn anything at all....

As far as learning wisdom from your parents, well as Neal said you never quite listen to them 99% of the time. It isn't until you have children of your own that your parents magically become all wise and knowing. We are all too busy wanting to experience it, and not listening to the experience of the past when we are still young.

jinsane said...

That quote is definitely something to think about! I've been going through alot of life-altering experiences over the last year and I'm still not sure what to do with what I've learned. Whatever it is, I hope it's the right thing!

OutInLeftField said...

I enjoy that quote a lot. Although I agree with Neal on this one, you can't learn wisedom by imitation...but you can get pretty good at faking it, though. I think the right combination of reflection and experience does it. And not to say you have to be old to be wise, you could have experienced more by the time you are 30, let's say, than most have seen in 70 years. It's all about R and E, baby, all about R and E. :)

Lee Ann said...

We definitely learn by these three methods! Sometimes my experience in not too bitter, thankfully!

Sadie Lou said...

I think true wisdom comes from putting it to the test--putting shoe leather on what you've "learned" by walking around on it to see if it "works".
Too often I hear people talking like they have so much knowledge or wisdom but have they really lived it or are they just repeating someone else's wisdom?

UltimateWriter said...

Wisdom can be learned by observation as well. Yeah that means seeing what's happening, analyzing why someone is doing it that way, and refraining from yapping about it before your brain has had a chance to process what just happened (usually takes a few hours or even days). Take a number...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Actually, Neal, there are studies which show that we absorb the feelings of what we're projecting.

In other words, if we're having a crappy day, and we force a smile on our faces and speak to everyone happily, we tend to start feeling happy as well. Funny, isn't it?

So, I think that if we emulate wisdom, we will probably absorb some of it, too.

Of course I also agree that experiences lead to wisdom.

However, my son (who has an abnormally high IQ) was born with a vast amount of wisdom. He didn't earn it, and didn't imitate it. He was given it. Lucky little devil.

Bar Bar A said...

Great conversation! I’d have to define all these terms (sorry that’s just how I am) before I could agree or disagree with this statement but if I defined “imitate” as watching, observing and applying what you learn I’d have to agree.

neal said...

Saurkraut I have heard about studies like that about moods and emotions being changed by smiling when you feel sad and even fighting off colds when you feel rotten.

I still don't think that applies to wisdom though. Wisdom is something that unless you get it by experience or sudden enlightenment you can't just pretend to be wise and then all of a sudden you are. With wisdom you have to be able to show somehow that you are wise. So imitations would soon be discovered because you would end up looking like a fool instead of a wise man/woman.

The best thing my dad ever taught me was this, 'It is better to let people think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and prove them right'.

The Zombieslayer said...

Heh. I seem to learn too much from the third. :(

Really try to learn more from the 2nd, but rarely get any real wisdom from the first.

neal said...

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
Thomas Jefferson

Dak-Ind said...

Bitterest. Perhaps some experiences are, but perhaps bittersweet would be the word i would use to describe my personal path to wisdom. I can not claim nobilty, and my road hasnt been easy.

i am new to your site, but glad to be here. i have been enjoying my reading thus far.

Kamokat said...

If you imitate someone who is wise, you learn what they know. Then you can become wise, through what you've learned.
Imitation is another form of experience. Confucius was not wrong, just repeating himself.