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The Beginning of Wisdom
You need wisdom to navigate the challenges and complexities of life. But how do you get it? Owen Anderson, professor of philosophy at Arizona State University, suggests the perfect place to start.
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On the first day of my Philosophy 101 class, I ask my students this question:
Does life make sense?
A few awkward moments pass. One hand goes up and then another.
No, life doesn’t make sense, many students tell me. It seems arbitrary and full of pain and suffering.
How does this make them feel? I ask.
They tell me it causes them anxiety and even depression.
What do they plan to do about it? I inquire.
They have no answer. And this, of course, only adds to their anxiety.
Fortunately, there is an answer. It’s called wisdom. Not exactly a fashionable concept these days but given how much mental illness is reported on campus, it’s primed for a comeback.
The Oxford Dictionary defines wisdom this way: the “capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgment…” That’s something we all desire. Life is complex. Difficult questions and choices confront us all the time. Wisdom helps us to deal with them.
By the way, the word philosophy means “the love of wisdom.”
So, where should we start our wisdom journey?
How about with the most significant and influential book in human history, one for which there is no close second—the Bible. Not surprisingly, it has a lot of thoughts on the subject.
Proverbs 9:10 takes us right to the heart of the matter.
“The fear of God,” the proverb tells us, “is the beginning of wisdom.”
Whoa. That’s a bold statement.
Let’s unpack it and see what we find.
Fear is universal. Everyone fears something. Indiana Jones fears snakes, Ron Weasley fears spiders, most people fear public speaking. Sometimes our fears are abstract. W..
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