Tag Archives: Qoheleth

The Fruit and Cost of Wisdom

This is the second post of a two-part essay on wisdom and education.

Qoheleth, “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1), casts a long eye on the course of life “to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things” (7:25). Taking an “under the sun,” or purely human and non-heavenly, approach, Qoheleth applies his “heart to seek and search out by wisdom” the way of life (1:3, 13). In reflecting on his experience through this vantage point, Qoheleth repeatedly comes to the same conclusion: life is “vanity,” or to give the literal translation of the Hebrew word hebel, life is “vapor” (1:14). It is insubstantial, momentary, and fleeting. To “know wisdom,” then, is to know the vexation of “striving after the wind” (1:17).

Qoheleth’s major arguments for the non-existence of meaning in life “under the sun” can be summarized in five ways. Continue reading The Fruit and Cost of Wisdom

The Pursuit of Wisdom

 

Alexander_and_Aristotle

This is the first post of a two-part essay on wisdom and education.

The roots of Western education largely rest in the Greek love of pursuing wisdom. In Nicomachean Ethics and Protrepticus, Aristotle envisions those who constantly contemplate wisdom, which is the highest end of humanity, as being like gods. “Understanding,” Aristotle states, “is by nature our end and the exercise of it the final activity for the sake of which we have come into being,” for “every man has been made by god in order to acquire knowledge and contemplate.” Every person, Aristotle says, “who exercises his intellect and cultivates it [is] in the best state and most dear to the gods.” Indeed, it is by means of rational contemplation that people make themselves immortal like the gods. Continue reading The Pursuit of Wisdom