General Question

Nially_Bob's avatar

Is wisdom innate?

Asked by Nially_Bob (3841points) June 28th, 2009

Do you believe that there is any extent to which the wisdom of two parents can be transferred genetically to their children?

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20 Answers

SirBailey's avatar

Wisdom, no. Intelligence yes. Wisdom implies experience. You can not genetically transfer experience.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Wisdom, no. Much of wisdom is based upon experience or perceptiveness.

lillycoyote's avatar

It think certain aspects of temperment and personality that may allow wisdom to take root in a person may be transfered from parent to child, but I don’t think there’s a transfer of wisdom genetically.

Hi Nially, so good to see you again. :)

Jeruba's avatar

Capacity to learn and understand, yes, to an extent. Wisdom, no. There is a good reason why wisdom is associated with age rather than with youth.

stardust's avatar

Wisdom comes with experience. So, no I do not think it can be passed down from parent to child.

Jeruba's avatar

At least, not genetically, right, @stardust?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

No, thank goodness for grandparents!

stardust's avatar

Not genetically. I do think that wisdom & grace can be gifts from those with rich experiences. In accepting such gifts, we are growing, learning @Jeruba

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Wisdom is learned, not inherited.

Darwin's avatar

As everyone else says, wisdom comes from experience. However, it also comes from how one deals with experience. The latter might be somewhat genetically linked in that things such as depression, mania, etc., have a genetic link. However, it is also due to how the people who raised you dealt with things.

Thus, wisdom is not genetically passed on, but the character traits that can lead someone to develop wisdom can be passed on by upbringing. This brings us around to nature vs nurture, and as with many things, both nature and nurture have an effect on what an individual becomes.

sanari's avatar

No, I believe wisdom is possible to be innate. I was 6 when I knew and understood that my parents were just human, and forgave them for the things they were doing to me. I speak to children, and there are some who when you talk to them – the wisdom they share is not accidental. Do not ever underestimate a child.

As for its relation to genetics, I do not have a clue.

filmfann's avatar

According to my father, apparently not.

wundayatta's avatar

Did you ever really look at a baby?

We are born wise, and spend the rest of our lives getting less and less so.

LostInParadise's avatar

It is true that wisdome depends on experience, but having an experience does not guarantee that one learns from it. There is a certain amount of perceptiveness required. Perhaps there is a genetic component to the ability to acquire wisdom.

Fyrius's avatar

Stop – Science time.

Your DNA does not change in the course of your life (1). It cannot encode acquired traits (like wisdom). The parents’ wisdom cannot possibly be coded in their DNA. Thus it is biologically impossible for wisdom to be innate.

(So, yeah. I just repeated what everyone else already said, in more sciency words.)

(1) Except perhaps that the molecules deteriorate as you grow old. I’ve heard of something along those lines, don’t know the details. But in any case, the code remains the same.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@Fyrius What originally led me to ask the question is my study of the research linking IQ to genetics. It has been proven that there is almost certainly a significant link between the IQ of parents and the IQ of their children. With this considered, and assuming that an IQ score is in any manner representative of a persons intelligence then it has been proven that intelligence has a considerable genetic factor. From reading this I then pondered whether wisdom possessed similar properties. I am aware that wisdom, as many have stated, requires experience which is evidently an environmental factor but is it not possible that the ability to acquire wisdom from said environment is innate/genetic? (I admit that on review of the question I probably should have used the term ‘genetic’ in place of ‘innate’ as this is more what I was hoping to inquire)

Darwin's avatar

How do you separate the genetic aspects of IQ from the environmental aspects?

Better educated, “smarter,” and better read parents typically expose their children to information, activities, and vocabulary not found in households where the parents are less educated, less exposed to other cultures, or don’t score as high on IQ tests. IQ tests consist of several parts, but largely include a lot of measuring of how much knowledge a person has attained by a specific age, compared to others in that same age group.

Thus the whole thing becomes circular. People who know more score higher on IQ tests, and IQ scores are higher for people who know more. Children raised by people who know more tend to know more. Hence children of people with high IQ as shown by IQ tests tend to raise children who also score high on IQ tests. Genetics may have little to do with it.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@Darwin The studies have been performed in many ways, sometimes involving orphans (assuming there is a record of the parents IQs or other related criteria), children who were adopted and their biological parents, children from very young ages (sometimes from birth) who are then followed for a duration of their life by the studies etc. There have also been studies done which contradict the findings of the previous ones where-in it has been found that given a better education and more intelligent parents children IQs tend to be higher than expected (relative to their parents). From what we know there is an environmental factor in intelligence (once again assuming that an IQ score is an accurate representation of intelligence) but there is also a significant genetic factor and I am curious as to whether this is also the case with regards to wisdom.

Nially_Bob's avatar

I’m afraid most of what I have read on the subject of inherited intelligence is from books but I think http://allpsych.com/journal/iq.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inheritance_of_intelligence and http://www.iq-genetics.info/ can offer a basic idea of the kinds of studies and research that have been done on the topic.

Fyrius's avatar

@Nially_Bob
Well, yes, I suppose an innate talent to learn from experiences and thus acquire wisdom wouldn’t be too far-fetched.
I intended to include that in my first post, but figured I should stop repeating what other people had already said.

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