General Question

fireside's avatar

What's the difference between Intelligence and Wisdom?

Asked by fireside (12273 points ) February 21st, 2009

I was watching this video from TED with Barry Schwartz talking about the economy and wisdom.

What do you think the difference between Wisdom and Intelligence is?
Do they both have value?

How do you encourage either?
Can they be taught?

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38 Answers

Jayne's avatar

Intelligence would seem to be the raw ability to process information; it must be fostered- the proper connections between neurons must be made to form in the early stages of development- but its action is essentially subconscious. Wisdom, while generally acquired through intelligence, consists of learned concepts that are part of a person’s conscious mindset. A person might observe their own mental workings and thereby acquire wisdom, which they use to create mental techniques that further enhance their intelligence, such as a system of mental organization. In this manner, wisdom can appear to be the same as intelligence, and if the learned concepts of wisdom can be made part of a person’s subconscious nature, there is no longer any real reason to differentiate between the two.

steelmarket's avatar

Wisdom is learned from experiences, intelligence is wired via DNA.

Wisdom is the judicious application of intelligence.

gimmedat's avatar

@steelmarket, did you come up with that? That is so true.

ubersiren's avatar

Intelligence is problem solving skills, wisdom is the accumulation of knowledge.

Judi's avatar

Intelligent people know a lot of stuff. Wise people know how to best use the stuff they know. They are both book smart and people smart.

tb1570's avatar

Intelligence is something we are born with and can increase through the study of books, etc..

Wisdom is gained through life experience, though some people seem to have an innate ability to accumulate wisdom faster than others.

I sure wish I was one of those people…

LouisianaGirl's avatar

Intelligence is when you are book smart.
Wisdom is when you are smart from experiencing things that you tell about.
Isn`t it?

Blondesjon's avatar

Intelligence is knowing how to do things.

Wisdom is knowing why you should or shouldn’t do things.

wundayatta's avatar

Intelligence is ability to solve problems in any way that works.

Wisdom is the ability to understand the context of the problem in finding the best solution for it.

Grisson's avatar

Intelligence is knowing stuff.
Wisdom is knowing what you know.

Blondesjon's avatar

Intelligence is gathering information.

Wisdom is the bullshit you use to get others to buy your take on it.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I would have to second the definition given by @tb1570

Jack79's avatar

most of the above ;)

I think most of us more or less “get it”, but don’t know how to explain it. Yes, intelligence has to do with reading books, knowing stuff, being able to process information into knowledge, being smart. Wisdom does not necessarily have to do with a big brain or education, but may usually come with age (and thus experience). It is knowing how to use the knowledge, and what that means. It is some sort of deeper understanding of how the world around us works, even when we are not intelligent enough to know the details.

steelmarket's avatar

@gimmedat – yep, just came to me, courtesy of an extra cup of java this AM.
Plus, I think more logically when I put on my Cylon icon.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Intelligence can help you solve a complex mathematical problem.
Wisdom can help you avoid complex mathematical problems.
xD

Harp's avatar

OK, so I started some convoluted answer, but then @NaturalMineralWater posted the above and it hardly seemed worth continuing.

steelmarket's avatar

So, wisdom will get you through times of no intelligence better than intelligence will get you through times of no wisdom?

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@steelmarket Depends. You have to be intelligent enough to seek out wisdom. =)

Now Marty.. let’s go BACK TO THE FUTURE!

tb1570's avatar

And genius is @NaturalMineralWater‘s answer!

laureth's avatar

Intelligence makes a good mage. Wisdom is the stat that helps a cleric. ;)

cookieman's avatar

@laureth Much lurve for the D&D reference.

fireside's avatar

Great Answers, everyone!

To me, Intelligence is a measure of capacity, whether it is what is currently stored or what one is capable of storing and still accessing.

Wisdom is the set of rules/conditions/morals that you use to determine how you apply that knowledge to the situations that arise everyday.

augustlan's avatar

Most of the answers above show intelligence and wisdom.
What a great place this is!

mea05key's avatar

Intelligence is limited by a lot of circumstances. Genes, the surrounding, and the people around you. Wisdom is knowledge you gained through observing, reading, listening and so on. I would say its not easy to improve ones intelligence i.e. the brain power , it defintely takes time. Sometimes it not fair you see. If a person is born in a better environment with a better education, or perhaps his/her parents have better genes, that person will have a head start in terms of intelligence. But intelligent people might be lazy ( I have seen a couple of them in my life ). Those with lesser intelligence might be more hardworking and they gain wisdom. Wisdom will help them to improve their intelligence. Wisdom and intelligence are the two important factors that will determind how succesful a person in his/her life. In fact, i would regard a person as wise and intelligent if he/she is able to use his resources fully.

LostInParadise's avatar

My take on this is a little different from what the others here have been saying. Wisdom is a kind of knowledge. So the first question is to ask how intelligence differs from knowledge. Knowledge is information that we have accumulated. Intelligence is the ability to apply knowledge to the solution of a problem.

Knowledge ranges in specificity. Wisdom is knowledge at a rather high level, often gained from personal experience. So, for example, an example of wisdom might be that if something seems too good to be true then it probably is.

nebule's avatar

Intelligence = a priori
Wisdom = a posteriori
Perhaps?

fireside's avatar

So, one of the points that Schwartz made, I think, is that Intelligence without Wisdom can be dangerous. Here he says, “Practical wisdom is what’s called for in situations that have a moral dimension to them.”

Does anyone think that Wisdom is something that can be taught?
Would an increased focus on Practical Wisdom help to avoid some of the excesses of greed that we have seen in our society?

What would be used as a moral basis to help guide the training in Practical Wisdom? Or is Schwartz wrong, is a moral basis not needed?

Grisson's avatar

@lynneblundell Does that mean Intelligence is now and Wisdom comes from your posterior?

nebule's avatar

@Grisson I think that would be a sufficient explanation yes ;-)

adreamofautumn's avatar

I think that intelligence is mainly about the brain whereas wisdom can be about the heart. I think intelligence comes either inherently or by studying something. Intelligence seems academic to me, whereas wisdom is something that comes from experiences, life lessons, etc. Wisdom comes from making mistakes and learning from mistakes or just from having life experiences.

Disc2021's avatar

I think intelligence is the raw knowledge, facts, information, know-how, etc. Whereas wisdom is the ability to actually understand and comprehend intelligence – similar to logic. Intelligence comes from fact finding and discovery. Wisdom comes from experience – evaluating that intelligence and determining which logic fits best.

I think the two are yin and yang – they go hand and hand and balance each other out. Having an imbalance of one or the other will run a person into problems.

nebule's avatar

and my number is….. for anyone who’s interested? wise need only apply xxx lol

Val123's avatar

Well, extremely intelligent people sometimes have NO common sense. Wise people, however, seem to have a plethora of common sense.

chocomonkey's avatar

Just read a great article on the difference between intelligence (as measured by IQ tests) and good thinking (as measured by smart decision-making):

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427321.000-clever-fools-why-a-high-iq-doesnt-mean-youre-smart.html?full=true

Harp's avatar

@chocomonkey Interesting article

chocomonkey's avatar

@Harp Glad you liked it!

meatheadbox's avatar

Intelligence would be the ability to perceive/understand something, while wisdom would be to know how to apply what you percieve/understand in practical situations.

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