I’m just going to level with you. The Philosophers’ Magazine does not normally get hate mail, and when we do get it we kind of like it. Not everyone gets a murmur from the zealots. But we received a particularly trenchant email some months ago that, unusually, spurred us into action. “Why don’t you publish articles about wisdom? Shouldn’t philosophy be about that and not twelve kinds of supervenience or whatever it was?”
I’m paraphrasing, but the point was taken. If philosophy still is something like the love of wisdom it was at the start, and not now an entirely a technical discipline flying over almost everyone’s heads, then it ought to have something to say about how we live. OK, fine, so here’s a forum on wisdom.
More particularly, we asked philosophers to take up a single philosopher or school, and consider how what passed for wisdom then may or may not help us now. The responses are fascinating. Massimo Pigliucci takes up the Stoic answer to the question, what is wisdom? Catherine Wilson considers elements of Epicurean wisdom and explains their relevance. Daniel Kaufman argues that we’re suffering a deficit of political wisdom. Finally, Valerie Tiberius considers that ancient line, “live each day as if it were your last”, and wonders if that’s really such a good idea.