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    Default Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Dear All,

    I noticed the question floated some months ago: what is the difference between wisdom and intelligence? I've thought about this and just wanted to belatedly submit my answer.

    Wisdom is simply knowledge about a given subject. If you know about engines you're wise to engines. If you know how to handle the streets you are streetwise. If you know all about life in general you are probably considered "wise" in general by those who know you.

    Intelligence relative to wisdom, is the ability to acquire wisdom sooner rather than later. An intelligent person on the streets will probably become streetwise quicker than an unintelligent one.

    Donnadogsoth
    Last edited by Donnadogsoth; 2013-10-20 at 04:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    In D&D, both what you call intelligence and what you call wisdom fall into the category of "intelligence." It reflects crystallized knowledge, working memory, and problem-solving ability.

    "Wisdom" in D&D is a little harder to define. Myself, I use "clarity" as a synonym for the D&D version of wisdom: the ability to ignore the noise and recognize what's important. Clarity of purpose gives clerics and paladins their power; clarity of perception helps with spot, listen and sense motive checks.

    Outside of the D&D paradigm, wisdom and intelligence are even trickier to define-- psychologists write whole books on the subject without coming up with a single satisfactory answer.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Intelligence is reason and logic - the ability to find solutions using raw mental power.

    Wisdom is common sense and intuition - the ability to make correct judgements.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Intelligence is reason and logic - the ability to find solutions using raw mental power.

    Wisdom is common sense and intuition - the ability to make correct judgements.
    Dear Tengu,

    Your definition of intelligence amounts to acquiring knowledge. "Solutions" means knowledge, some piece of information that your intelligence creates for you.

    And, "making correct judgements" is also knowledge ("solutions"), that your wisdom provides you with from its store.

    The only difference I can see between them is that intelligence constructs the knowledge that wisdom already has.

    Donnadogsoth

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Intelligence is the ability to build a weather control machine.

    Wisdom is the foresight to patent it and market it legally rather than use it to extort money from Metropolis.

    I usually define "Wisdom" as "the ability to see the big picture."

    For example a LE ruler who treats her subjects with good social programs, food, healthcare, and so on, because she knows if she goes cruel tyrant she's going to get rebels and heroes knocking down her door. She doesn't actually care for her people, she just has the ability to see the bigger picture.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Dear Tengu,

    Your definition of intelligence amounts to acquiring knowledge. "Solutions" means knowledge, some piece of information that your intelligence creates for you.

    And, "making correct judgements" is also knowledge ("solutions"), that your wisdom provides you with from its store.

    The only difference I can see between them is that intelligence constructs the knowledge that wisdom already has.

    Donnadogsoth
    making correct judgements isn't knowledge, you don't always know if what you choose is correct until the choosing is done, it's intuition, common sense or assuming and assuming correctly, whereas knowledge implies knowing.


    to the op
    Wisdom is your perception and understanding. Most people tend to understand lots of things they have never learned of or experienced. You can not be wise about steam engines, or hardware.

    intelligence is things you have learned, mastery of skills.
    Intelligence would be the knowing of things, not necessarily understanding them. You can't be knowledgeable about your deity/deities activities.
    Last edited by mindwarper10; 2013-10-20 at 07:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by mindwarper10 View Post
    You can't be knowledgeable about your deity/deities activities.
    You can with a high INT and ranks in Knowledge (Religion)...
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    I'll use two examples to illustrate high Intelligence, low Wisdom vs. low Intelligence, high Wisdom.

    First example, Rusty Venture from the Venture Brothers. He's highly intelligent and can devise a great many sceintific and technological accomplishments, if he weren't so short sighted and didn't try to turn so many of his ventures into I'll thought out get rich quick schemes. He also occasionally forgets his sons' names and has a penchant for bad decision making in general.

    On the other hand you have Forrest Gump. He has an IQ of 75 yet almost never makes rash or foolish decisions. Forrest possesses a great deal of common sense and good judgment. Even though he seemingly lacks any sense of guile Forrest has a pretty good sense of when someone's trying to take advantage of him or others.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    I remember a pretty good one (probably wrongly, but here goes)


    Intelligence tells you how to build a nuclear bomb.

    Wisdom tells you that detonating it is a bad idea.

    Charisma lets you convince people you'll do it anyway if they don't meet your demands.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2013-10-20 at 08:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Morithias View Post
    Intelligence is the ability to build a weather control machine.

    Wisdom is the foresight to patent it and market it legally rather than use it to extort money from Metropolis.

    I usually define "Wisdom" as "the ability to see the big picture."

    For example a LE ruler who treats her subjects with good social programs, food, healthcare, and so on, because she knows if she goes cruel tyrant she's going to get rebels and heroes knocking down her door. She doesn't actually care for her people, she just has the ability to see the bigger picture.
    This is rather close to how I see it.

    To put it in physical terms, I like to compare them to attributes.

    Charisma is Strength; it is the ability to make the world conform to your desires, be it "move this object" or "move these people".

    Intelligence is Dexterity; it is mental agility and ability to flexibly react to situations.

    Wisdom is Constitution; the ability to continue in your chosen course against the odds and vicissitudes.

    Someone who is intelligent but not wise will react quickly to situations, but may change course frequently. That might result in them tacking against the wind to get to where they're going, or it might result in them wasting a lot of effort to get nothing done.

    Someone who is wise but not intelligent will pick a course and stick to it. They may change a bit due to new information, but once set on a goal, they move towards it.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    The way I see it, Intelligence is the mental ability to work with and remember many things at the same time 'correctly' and 'effectively'. In the 'proactive' aspect, its a tool that can be directed at concrete or specific problems.

    Wisdom on the other hand is being able to comprehend generalities, and understand the relative importance of things in a situation. It is also more about the goal or outcome than the means: you can use intelligence to solve a puzzle, but wisdom tells you what puzzle you should be working on. Solving a problem with wisdom will usually involve realizing something about the purpose of the problem that casts it in another light - for example, telling that something is a trick question or figuring out that the person writing a test is spelling something out with the letters of the multiple choice answers.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    My favorite literary example is Ender's Game. I'll try to keep this vague for spoiler's sake (and to keep from embarrassing myself since it's been at least 5 years since I read any of the books).

    The first book in this scifi series is about a military academy in space. The main character is a child prodigy. He beats the hell out of all the tests. Ender has high intelligence.

    Ender's Shadow focuses on one of the other characters, Bean. Bean is able to see through the tests and figure out the grand scheme of what's going on in the academy. Ender is completely oblivious to these things. Bean is an example of a high wisdom (and pretty high, but not maxed out intelligence) character.

    While Bean isn't necessarily able to out think Ender in a closed environment, he'd probably come out on top in a real world conflict, because he'd approach it with a better understanding of the situation and more information to use to his advantage.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    I think part of the problem is that Intelligence and Wisdom the discussed concepts as overlayed onto a game system does some... odd things when connected to Int and Wis the game attributes. The way it works in the game works, for the most part. But what it does isn't exactly wisdom. But the label is legacy. Much like how "Perception" as an attribute never made it out of Dragon, but Comeliness (Yes, a stat for hawtness) did.

    D&D Wisdom in particular seems quite the dumping ground. It's your sensibility... and your senses (whether or not you notice things). And your willpower (one of the things I liked about 4e is letting you use the better of Wisdom (self-control and sagaciousness) or Charisma (force of personality) for your Will saves).

    Perception is the tricky one - I get the "tuned into the world, doing your Zen thing" interpretation, but it does fight a bit against keen-eyed but foolish scout concepts. Or that you can't be strong-willed and make poor decisions. Unless you put decision making under intelligence, in which case you can't be clever and make bad decisions. Clearly the solution is that "wisdom" (knowing what's best) and cleverness (creativity) don't map 1:1 to attributes. You can describe your high int, low wis character as "clever", or your low int, high wis character as "cunning" - and from there it falls to the player to make it happen.

    Mark Hall has a great interpretation there (Shadowrun more or less follows the same parallel). Another way to think of it is from the perspective of Magic. Intelligence-based magic is about being clever and unlocking the secrets of the universe. Hacking the source code of reality to make it do what you want. Wisdom-based magic is about your attunement to nature (Druids), or to higher powers... Or it's about using your faith and channel to will minor miracles into existence. Charisma casters do magic by being awesome, and bending reality through force of personality.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    My favorite literary example is Ender's Game.
    The only reason Bean scores lower on the tests than Ender is because he messes up on purpose (due to some paranoia related to his "seeing through" them). Bean makes it clear a number of times that he's smarter even than Ender in sheer mental clout.

    The big difference between them is really that Ender has a much better Charisma than Bean.

    And while Ender didn't see through the tests, he did display a pretty robust survival instinct, as well as physical awareness of surroundings and common sense. I'd say his Wisdom score is pretty great -- but that he lacks ranks in Sense Motive. Bean, on the other hand, probably has max ranks and Skill Focus in Sense Motive.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    The big difference between them is really that Ender has a much better Charisma than Bean.
    I just want to support this with:

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    Ender was the one who was able to transform Team Dragon from a bunch of motley kids into an disciplined, loyal fighting force.

    I'm a bit hazy on the later books, but I don't recall Bean doing anything particularly charismatic.. He does train the UN/Hegemon army, but I imagine that's an easier task than turning children into soldiers.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    The only reason Bean scores lower on the tests than Ender is because he messes up on purpose (due to some paranoia related to his "seeing through" them). Bean makes it clear a number of times that he's smarter even than Ender in sheer mental clout.
    Hmm. I took that as Bean trying to show himself that he's smarter rather than proof that he really is. But like I said, it's been years since I read the books.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Dear Tengu,

    Your definition of intelligence amounts to acquiring knowledge. "Solutions" means knowledge, some piece of information that your intelligence creates for you.

    And, "making correct judgements" is also knowledge ("solutions"), that your wisdom provides you with from its store.

    The only difference I can see between them is that intelligence constructs the knowledge that wisdom already has.

    Donnadogsoth
    I disagree. Knowing is one thing, using that knowledge is another. There are many people who are unable to use the knowledge they have to the best results because they lack the intelligence to do so. And a lot of the time, an intelligent person can use logic and reason to create a solution even when they lack the knowledge.

    Similarily, making a judgement has little in common with knowledge either. Which of those paths should I take? Which of those people should I trust? Making good decisions requires wisdom. I know plenty of people who are intelligent and knowledgable, yet make absolutely awful decisions all the time because they lack wisdom.

    Knowledge is information stored inside your mind. But intelligence and wisdom are qualities of the mind itself - even someone who knows nothing can still be intelligent or wise.
    Last edited by Tengu_temp; 2013-10-21 at 08:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    I just want to support this with:

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    Ender was the one who was able to transform Team Dragon from a bunch of motley kids into an disciplined, loyal fighting force.

    I'm a bit hazy on the later books, but I don't recall Bean doing anything particularly charismatic.. He does train the UN/Hegemon army, but I imagine that's an easier task than turning children into soldiers.
    didn't bean put together that team because HE saw that this would be a perfect team of misfits? that point goes to Bean, not Ender. (granted, i agree with the Higher Charisma thing... If we also accept that Bean has much higher wisdom.) I'd Stat them out at something along the lines of:

    Bean:
    15-18 INT
    18 WIS
    12 CHA

    Ender:
    15-17 INT
    14 WIS
    16 CHA

    or around about those values.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaxsa View Post
    Ender:
    15-17 INT
    14 WIS
    16 CHA.
    So Ender must have gone up quite a few levels in the next 20 years to get to his wisdom in Speaker for the Dead.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by WeLoveFireballs View Post
    So Ender must have gone up quite a few levels in the next 20 years to get to his wisdom in Speaker for the Dead.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Agrippa View Post
    I'll use two examples to illustrate high Intelligence, low Wisdom vs. low Intelligence, high Wisdom.

    First example, Rusty Venture from the Venture Brothers. He's highly intelligent and can devise a great many sceintific and technological accomplishments, if he weren't so short sighted and didn't try to turn so many of his ventures into I'll thought out get rich quick schemes. He also occasionally forgets his sons' names and has a penchant for bad decision making in general.

    On the other hand you have Forrest Gump. He has an IQ of 75 yet almost never makes rash or foolish decisions. Forrest possesses a great deal of common sense and good judgment. Even though he seemingly lacks any sense of guile Forrest has a pretty good sense of when someone's trying to take advantage of him or others.
    Dear Agrippa,

    Rusty's case seems to me more like a savant. His ill-thought-out schemes betray what most common people would call stupidity. Long-term stupidity versus short-term cleverness. But, the deficit is still knowledge: he doesn't know what to do in the long-term or even that he should be worrying about it.

    Gump's case seems like what I've said above: he has knowledge of what to do in certain situations. Whether he gained that by being a fast learner with respect to it, or it is intuitive, we don't know, but it is knowledge that he has--knowledge of what to do in various situations--even if that is commonly called wisdom, and even if he couldn't share that knowledge with anyone directly.

    Donnadogsoth

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    I disagree. Knowing is one thing, using that knowledge is another. There are many people who are unable to use the knowledge they have to the best results because they lack the intelligence to do so. And a lot of the time, an intelligent person can use logic and reason to create a solution even when they lack the knowledge.

    Similarily, making a judgement has little in common with knowledge either. Which of those paths should I take? Which of those people should I trust? Making good decisions requires wisdom. I know plenty of people who are intelligent and knowledgable, yet make absolutely awful decisions all the time because they lack wisdom.

    Knowledge is information stored inside your mind. But intelligence and wisdom are qualities of the mind itself - even someone who knows nothing can still be intelligent or wise.
    Dear Tengu,

    I disagree in turn. What is wisdom without knowledge? A person can hardly be said to be wise if they don't know anything.

    "What should we do, wise old man?"
    "I don't…know…"

    Kind of a contradiction, no?

    I agree that wisdom is a quality of the mind, a quality defined by that mind being in possession of knowledge. Given enough knowledge a person can be said to know, and know they know, and know long term and short term things to do, but it's all about knowing, even knowing the gaps in your knowledge.

    When you say "…There are many people who are unable to use the knowledge they have to the best results because they lack the intelligence to do so. And a lot of the time, an intelligent person can use logic and reason to create a solution even when they lack the knowledge. "

    To which I say, how is a solution not a kind of knowledge? It is embedded in the language: If intelligence creates a solution, then the person can be said to "know what to do. "

    When you say, "…making a judgement has little in common with knowledge either. Which of those paths should I take? Which of those people should I trust? Making good decisions requires wisdom. I know plenty of people who are intelligent and knowledgeable, yet make absolutely awful decisions all the time because they lack wisdom."

    Consider your rhetorical questions: Either you know which path to take, or which person to trust, or you don't. It still comes down to knowledge. An intelligent person can come up with knowledge of what to do on the fly, a wise person knew it already. Someone who is making bad decisions all the time lacks knowledge of how to live their life properly, for if you knew how to live properly, nothing stopping you to the contrary, would you not act on it, just as if you knew the red butter knife on the stovetop was hot, you would not pick it up?

    Donnadogsoth

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Deaxsa View Post
    I'd Stat them out at something along the lines of:
    My opinion:

    Bean
    INT: ~21 (template)
    WIS: ~16 (but maxxed Sense Motive, as I argued before)
    CHA: 10

    Ender
    INT: 18
    WIS: ~17
    CHA: ~17

    To expand on the "template" part:
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    I'd argue for this even if there was no direct evidence supporting it from the books, just based on how intelligent Bean is portrayed throughout. After all, the limit of 18 for ability scores doesn't really have enough breadth for the variety of humanity; it's easily demonstrable that some real-life weightlifters have Strength of 20+ in D&D terms. In general, I favor the explanation that there are a number of commoner-applicable "templates" that can boost scores beyond their "normal" limits. They aren't necessarily visible to others in the in-character world, like having a monstrous parent, and they don't have to be statted up in the rulebooks to exist. OotS even follows this formula, with (for example) O-Chul having a CON score that is impossibly high by the standard rules. And in real life, there's no way you're going to convince me that e.g. Richard Feynmann was just a regular INT 18-19 genius.

    But in this specific case, I don't even have to go on all that. The later books reveal that Bean is genetically engineered to be exceptionally intelligent, which is an easy case for a template if I ever heard one.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    D&D has a minitemplate (Prodigy of (stat), in DMG2) that not only grants +2 to the relevant stat, but also +4 on top of that, to all checks relating to that stat.

    So a Bean who is INT18 + a Prodigy of Intelligence, would be INT20, and get +4 on all Knowledge checks, Intelligence-related checks in general, etc.
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Dear Tengu,

    I disagree in turn. What is wisdom without knowledge? A person can hardly be said to be wise if they don't know anything.

    "What should we do, wise old man?"
    "I don't…know…"

    Kind of a contradiction, no?
    Only because you're conflating two kinds of knowledge here that aren't the same. There is a difference between knowing 'how to do something' and knowing 'what should I do?'. The difference is that the former is independent from the self - a robot could 'know' that as much as a person, and the answer does not change. In the latter case, it is more about being self aware - questions like 'what would make me happy?' don't have absolute formal answers.

    The separation is that one is analytic and the other is intuitive.

    Consider your rhetorical questions: Either you know which path to take, or which person to trust, or you don't. It still comes down to knowledge. An intelligent person can come up with knowledge of what to do on the fly, a wise person knew it already. Someone who is making bad decisions all the time lacks knowledge of how to live their life properly, for if you knew how to live properly, nothing stopping you to the contrary, would you not act on it, just as if you knew the red butter knife on the stovetop was hot, you would not pick it up?
    Again, the difference here is that one type of 'knowledge' can basically be externalized. You can tell someone else or learn from someone else 'in this kind of terrain, fight this way' or 'this is how you solve a quadratic equation'. The problems and solutions - the knowledge - is distinct from an understanding of the self and one's relationship with the world.

    But when you ask what leads to a bad decision, thats generally a lack of awareness of how something will affect you or the others around you. Like in the case of the stereotypical high Int/low Wis character, they come up with 'great ideas' (solutions to difficult problems) but lack a real awareness of the possible consequences of implementing those ideas (that solution will also kill the user; make bears go extinct; whatever).

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    If you feel drops of water falling on your head, Intelligence is what tells you it's raining. Wisdom is what tells you to get indoors.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
    If you feel drops of water falling on your head, Intelligence is what tells you it's raining. Wisdom is what tells you to get indoors.
    I have a soft spot for this old joke, illustrating something similar:

    Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. "Watson" he says, "look up in the sky and tell me what you see."

    "I see millions of stars, Holmes," says Watson.

    "And what do you conclude from that, Watson?"

    Watson thinks for a moment. "Well," he says, "astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow... What does it tell you, Holmes?"

    "Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!”
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2013-10-21 at 03:51 PM.
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    Tengu_temp's Avatar

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Donnadogsoth View Post
    Dear Tengu,

    I disagree in turn. What is wisdom without knowledge? A person can hardly be said to be wise if they don't know anything.

    "What should we do, wise old man?"
    "I don't…know…"

    Kind of a contradiction, no?
    Actually, no. There are whole philosophies that focus on obtaining wisdom without obtaining knowledge. The wise man on a mountain, who speaks only in riddles that seem to make no sense at first but actually tell you exactly what you're supposed to do, is the most common character type that embodies this. There's no contradiction.

    Now, usually both intelligent and wise people have some degree of knowledge, and probably pretty high one too. But knowledge is not intelligence, and it's not wisdom.

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    Default Re: Very LTTP: Wisdom vs. Intelligence

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Actually, no. There are whole philosophies that focus on obtaining wisdom without obtaining knowledge. The wise man on a mountain, who speaks only in riddles that seem to make no sense at first but actually tell you exactly what you're supposed to do, is the most common character type that embodies this. There's no contradiction.

    Now, usually both intelligent and wise people have some degree of knowledge, and probably pretty high one too. But knowledge is not intelligence, and it's not wisdom.
    I don't know what you mean, Tengu. The wise man on the mountain who speaks only in riddles obviously, by your example, knew what you were supposed to do. Or, are you saying that there are people who can give useful advice to others, without understanding their own advice themselves?

    Donnadogsoth

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