Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought

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Jason Merchey, essayist, philosophical thinker, and therapist, probes the history, meaning, and utility of the all-too-human capacity for developing wisdom in an interdisciplinary volume that spans philosophy, psychology, politics, and other fields. In Wisdom, Merchey writes about how individuals recognize, cultivate, and apply it to their lives to make choices that guarantee not only their individual well-being, but also that of others. Beyond individual flourishing, Merchey argues that wisdom also has collective implications for positively changing destructive forces within communities and nations, such as greed, love of money, tribalism, racism, and wealth inequities.

Jonas Salk noted that “we are drowning in information while starving for wisdom.” This is among the healthy collection of quotes the author has compiled to illustrate what leading thinkers, poets, scientists, philosophers, and politicians have contributed to our collective understanding of wisdom. Merchey has long maintained a website that aggregates thousands of inspirational quotes. Wisdom gathers relevant musings from ancient thinkers such as Socrates and Aristotle and contemporary philosophers such as Alain de Boton and Cornel West to follow each chapter.

Generally speaking, the author writes in an engaging way. In addition to personal reflections, Merchey supports his claims with anecdotes from the lives of well-known thinkers, historians, philosophers, poets, and others who embody various aspects of wisdom. However, Merchey’s writing can veer off in different directions. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to follow the flow of the argument or assertions. The essays are best read in chunks, and each chapter could benefit from subheadings that call out the topics being discussed.

From my perspective, Wisdom excels in addressing the possibilities of solving the wrongs of political tribalism that undermine the promise of America and our shared destiny as a nation of diverse communities. Raised in Los Angeles to a Jewish family, Merchey acknowledges his personal history and vantage point to weave in discussions on implicit bias. He shares his observations about how people from different racial backgrounds experience the world differently because of how others act upon their biases. The author also links bias and tribalism to timely discourse on the widespread resistance to vaccines during a global pandemic.

Readers who enjoy taking in existentialist musings and reflections will learn much from Merchey’s Wisdom. One does not need to be well-versed in philosophy to understand the points made about wisdom and its antecedents. Have an open mind and willingness to absorb the threads woven through interrelated topics, as the author looks at the virtue and phenomenon of wisdom from different disciplines.

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Star Count 3.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 389 pages
Publisher Values of the Wise, LLC
Publish Date 01-Mar-2022
ISBN 9780578316796
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue March 2022
Category Philosophy