is the pre-refereed draft of a chapter that appears in Science
and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell
edited by Leemon McHenry, and published in 2009 by Ontos Verlag.
Nicholas Maxwell in Context
The Relationship of His Wisdom Theses to the Contemporary
Global Interest in Wisdom
the opening pages of his 1984 book From Knowledge to Wisdom,
Nicholas Maxwell said:
I advocate is a radical change – a radical evolution – in the overall,
fundamental aims and methods of inquiry. At present we have a kind of
academic inquiry that has, as its basic intellectual aim, to improve
knowledge. This needs to be transformed, I shall argue, into
a kind of rational inquiry that has, as its basic intellectual aim,
to improve wisdom. 
was not the first to express concern about this issue. Four hundred
years earlier Michel de Montaigne had written:
gladly come back to the theme of the absurdity of our education: its
end has not been to make us good and wise, but learned. And it has succeeded.
It has not taught us to seek virtue and embrace wisdom: it has impressed
upon us their derivation and etymology.
these two philosophers expressed similar concerns, the urgency of the
situation has escalated drastically during the intervening 400 years.
When Montaigne was writing, world population was less than half a billion
and Galileo had not yet invented the telescope. Today, world population
is approaching 7 billion and our advanced technologies – coupled with
our lack of wisdom – have created multiple crises. As Maxwell has put
the advent of modern science and technology, lack of global wisdom did
not matter too much; we lacked the power to wreak too much havoc on
ourselves and our surroundings. Now, with modern science and technology,
our power is terrifying, and global wisdom and civilization have become,
not a luxury, but a necessity.
decades now, Maxwell has called upon us to deal with this “major intellectual
disaster at the heart of western science, technology, scholarship and
a recent article in the London Review of Education,  Mathew Iredale pointed
out that although Maxwell’s ideas have been endorsed by respected academics,
and his ideas have influenced the work of others, his hoped-for restructuring
of whole institutions and the entire academic enterprise has not yet
happened. That said, Ireland also pointed out a variety of situations,
most in the UK, and most connected with science and scientists, that
are supportive of Maxwell’s more general aim of acquiring knowledge
that 1) sheds light on what is of value for humanity and 2) helps us
to bring that into existence.
chapter is devoted to further exploring what has been happening in recent
years that is germane to Maxwell’s wisdom-associated proposals. It
will relate his work to
courses, programs and departments formed in response to human problems,
associated with “what is of value in life,” and
interest in wisdom education.
New academic courses, programs and departments
formed in response to human problems
has called for a shift in academic focus from knowledge acquisition
for its own sake to “what is of value in life” for human beings. Knowledge
acquisition is to continue, of course, but now in the service of realizing
that which is widely beneficial. As he has put it: “The basic task
of rational inquiry is to help us develop wiser ways of living, wiser
institutions, customs and social relations, a wiser world.”
1984 Maxwell hoped for a sweeping revolution in academia from (using
his current terminology) knowledge-inquiry to wisdom-inquiry. He defines
the latter as “rational inquiry devoted to promoting wisdom.”
 Twenty years later he expressed disappointment that
this revolution had not yet occurred:
of problems of living and how to solve them goes on at present at the
fringes of academic inquiry, within such disciplines as peace studies,
development studies, social policy studies, medicine, agricultural science,
and other applied sciences. The crucial point is that such discussion
is at the periphery; it is not intellectually central and fundamental. 
this a fair characterization of the situation? Are the programs he mentions
indeed peripheral? Or do they, perhaps, represent important early steps
in implementing the revolution which Maxwell seeks? Let’s look more
closely at some of these activities.
the most serious global problems to which Maxwell has called attention
are several associated with the environment. They include global warming,
destruction of tropical rain forests and other natural habitats, rapid
extinction of species, depletion of vital natural resources such as
oil, and pollution of the sea, earth, and air.
Academic institutions have responded to these concerns in
a quite remarkable way by establishing courses, programs, departments,
and institutes devoted to the study and amelioration of these problems.
The statistics are impressive. One tabulation compiled by Brown University’s
Center for Environmental Studies lists 251 US colleges and universities
that have Environmental Studies programs, departments or institutes,
13 Canadian universities, 11 in the UK, 6 in Australia, and at least
one in each of several other countries.  Another website, which bills itself as “The
Environmental School Directory,” lists programs worldwide and has a
breakdown by type. Their tally of offerings is Environmental Studies
261, Environmental Policy 222, Environmental Engineering 122, and Environmental
Education 100. In addition, an increasing number of university law schools
now have Environmental Law programs.
International Development Studies
“most serious” problem that Maxwell has identified is third world poverty,
and he has called for “a massive effort by the wealthy of the first
world to help the poor of the third world to help themselves” as well
as “a more just distribution of the world’s wealth, and fairer trade
area of concern has not been ignored by the world’s institutions of
higher learning, and many now have graduate and undergraduate programs
in international development studies. The Canadian-based International
Development Studies Network lists 18 Canadian Universities with International
Development Studies programs, 8 universities in the UK that have them,
and universities in Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, and
Another website lists 95 international development graduate programs
in the United States. 
in practical fields like engineering, within universities there is a
deep concern about these issues. The recently-formed (2000) Engineers
Without Borders organization now has student chapters at 18 Canadian,
8 Australian, 15 UK, and 128 US universities. 
Peace And Conflict Resolution
and the threat of war, including terrorism” is one more of Maxwell’s
“most serious” global problems.  Again, universities
around the world have responded to this issue by creating Peace Studies,
Conflict Studies, Conflict Resolution, and Dispute Resolution courses,
programs, departments and institutes. The Conflict Resolution Information
Source describes 319 of these in some detail. 
recognizes the inequalities that women have faced, and recently wrote:
“If women had been permitted to play an equal role in creating modern
science and academia, things might have developed in a very different
way, and we might today possess something more like full fledged wisdom-inquiry.”  A great many people have been concerned about
the status of women in both the Western industrialized countries and
around the world, and roughly 25 years ago universities began to offer
Women’s Studies Programs. Today, sometimes expanded into Gender Studies,
hundreds of universities are offering these programs. Gerri Gribi lists
675 US colleges and universities that offer such programs,
 and Joan Korenman identifies 258 institutions in 58
countries outside the US that offer them. 
what do we make of all this? In the chapter Maxwell wrote for this
book he says “The revolution we need would change every branch and aspect
of academic inquiry.” That, very clearly, has not happened. Also in
that chapter he proposes that rational problem solving in the service
of wisdom-inquiry will require those attempting it to:
Articulate and seek to improve the articulation of those personal, social
and global problems of living we need to solve to achieve what is of
value in life (a better world).
Propose and critically assess alternative possible solutions – possible
and actual cooperative actions (policies, political programmes,
philosophies of life), to be assessed from the standpoint of their capacity,
if implemented, to help realize what is of value in life.
that what has been happening in the programs just discussed? Although
focused on some relatively narrow aspect of the human problematique,
haven’t these programs been using rational problem solving to 1) better
understand the problems and how they arose, and to 2) “assess alternative
doubt the quality and effectiveness of individual programs varies.
My point is that they are there, and the sheer numbers tell me
that something important is going on. It is not the total revolution
of academia that Maxwell has called for. But back in 1984 he also used
the word evolution, and that is what the data tell me is going on.
I see these programs as the edge of the transformative wedge. Behind
these programs are concerned faculty members who want to offer them,
and filling the classroom chairs are concerned students who want to
take the courses. Furthermore, each program represents university resources
taken away from knowledge acquisition for its own sake and directed
toward the discussion and solution of human problems, toward the development
of wisdom, toward the realization of “what is of value in life.” University
governing bodies have decided that these programs, departments, and
institutes are an important addition to their universities, worthy of
the provision of scarce university resources to establish them and keep
them going. If I am correct about this being a leading-edge phenomenon,
we will be seeing much more of it in the future.
Academic research associated with “what is of value in life”
of academic research? Is it all directed at acquiring knowledge for
its own sake, or is a significant portion of it now in the service of
wisdom-inquiry and exploring/solving significant human problems? At
one point in his 2004 book Is Science Neurotic? Maxwell wrote:
lack what at present we most need: sustained, intelligent, imaginative,
unconstrained exploration of our local and global problems of living
and what we might do to help solve them, carried on in a public, influential
seems to this observer that academic institutions worldwide are very
much involved with sustained, intelligent, imaginative research intended
to reveal and solve many of “our local and global problems of living.”
More recently, Maxwell has acknowledged some important research of this
kind, while at the same time strongly criticizing the UK’s system for
distributing research funds.
 Here, let’s look at a few examples of research focused
on betterment of the human situation.
begin with climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) “to assess
scientific, technical and socio-economical information relevant for
the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options
for adaptation and mitigation.”  The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize
was awarded jointly to the IPCC for its work, and to former US Vice
President Al Gore for his activities in raising public awareness. In
November 2007 the IPCC released “Climate Change 2007,” its fourth comprehensive
assessment report. This report was the distillation of research done
by 2500 scientists
 – some employed by government agencies and NGOs, but
many affiliated with universities and doing their research at those
researchers have been active in many other areas of environmental research.
Among these are species extinction, habitat issues, issues concerning
global water availability and consumption, and issues concerning food
economic research is taking place within universities, government departments,
and independent “think tank” institutes. Much of it concerns the functioning
of present economic systems and optimizing their functioning. The negative
aspects of these systems – which include unequal wealth distribution,
negative environmental impacts, and resource depletion – lead many to
doubt that this kind of research increases human wisdom. Yet there
is some economic research which clearly does. One example is research
on wealth distribution. Research into income and wealth levels is revealing,  as is research into the underlying mathematics
which predicts that unequal wealth distribution is simply what happens
unless corrective measures are implemented.
 Another example has to do with better ways of measuring
the level of human well-being. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the
standard index, but it measures only one aspect of well-being. Other
indices, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), take into account
many additional factors. 
the fact that the word philosophy means “love of wisdom,” academic philosophy
largely avoided the subject of wisdom for much of the twentieth century.
So did academic psychology. Even those doing research in developmental
psychology rarely used the word. That began to change in the late 1970s,
and wisdom has once again become an acceptable topic for scholarly discussion
and study. Central questions in wisdom research have been, and continue
to be: What is wisdom? What are its characteristics? How do we define
it? How do we measure it? How do people develop it? Also, is wisdom
strictly personal, or can societies and their institutions also be wise?
some things there is much agreement and overlap of views. Monika Ardelt
has pointed out that many researchers agree that “wisdom is the quintessence
of successful human development” and that “wise people are considered
to be exceptionally mature, integrated, satisfied with life, able to
make decisions in difficult and uncertain life matters, and capable
of dealing with any crisis and obstacle they encounter.”  There is also general agreement that wise people
care about the well-being of others.
more specific, Paul Baltes, Ursula Staudinger and their colleagues at
the Max Plank Institute for Human Development have put forth “the Berlin
wisdom paradigm” and say that “wisdom in this paradigm is defined as
an expert knowledge system concerning the fundamental pragmatics of
life. These include knowledge and judgment about the meaning and conduct
of life and the orchestration of human development toward excellence
while attending conjointly to personal and collective well-being.”  Robert Sternberg sees wisdom
as “the application of tacit knowledge as mediated by values toward
the achievement of a common good through a balance among multiple (a)
intrapersonal, (b) interpersonal, and (c) extrapersonal interests in
order to achieve a balance among (a) adaptation to existing environments,
(b) shaping of existing environments, and (c) selection of new environments.”
 Ardelt notes that “overall, most definitions of wisdom
describe the concept as a multidimensional and multifaceted construct
with cognitive, reflective, and affective (emotional) elements that
are inherently related to each other,” and she notes that her own definition
is in line with this. 
important research activity has been the development of techniques for
evaluating the level of wisdom that specific individuals have developed.
The Berlin group and Ardelt have each developed methodologies for doing
this – two different methodologies that reflect the different views
that each has about the nature of wisdom.
Maxwell, wisdom has a seeking, investigative quality as well as an active
doing quality. He has called wisdom “the desire, the active endeavor,
and the capacity to discover and achieve what is desirable and of value
in life, both for oneself and others.”
 Furthermore, he has indicated that what is of value
in life is not just some arbitrary personal choice. “What is of value
is to be discovered, it is not simply what we decide.”
 There are many lists of “wise values” and human virtues
and, as one might expect if the things that wise people value are not
arbitrary, there is much list-to-list similarity. 
wisdom researchers consider wisdom to be a personal characteristic –
a level of psychological development or a personality trait. But what
of cultural and societal wisdom? What do we mean when we speak of a
wise society or a wisdom-based culture? Nobelist Roger Sperry considered
human values to be decision-making determinants. He wrote:
values, in addition to their commonly recognized significance from
a personal, religious, or philosophic standpoint, can also be viewed
objectively as universal determinants in all human decision making.
All decisions boil down to a choice among alternatives of what is most
valued, for whatever reasons, and are determined by the particular
value system that prevails. Human value priorities, viewed thus in objective
control–system theory, stand out as the most strategically powerful
causal control now shaping world events. More than any other causal
system with which science now concerns itself, it is variables in human
value systems that will determine the future. 
institutions also have deeply-embedded values, and those values are
determinants of the decisions the institution makes. Personal wisdom
can become societal wisdom if and when wise people succeed in embedding
“the values of the wise” in the decision-making processes of institutions.
Maxwell, too, recognizes that wisdom has both a personal dimension and
a societal dimension, and has referred to academia as “an intellectual
and educational force for the promotion of personal and global wisdom.”
to personal wisdom is psychological development beyond “normality.”
As Martin Seligman, one of the leading “positive psychology” researchers
and a former President of the American Psychological Association, put
it: “I realized that my profession was half-baked. It wasn’t enough
for us to nullify disabling conditions and get [from minus five] to
zero. We needed to ask, What are the enabling conditions that make human
beings flourish? How do we get from zero to plus five.”
 His extensive research led to the development of a
Character Strengths and Virtues document, and he says about it,
“we intend it to do for psychological well-being what the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders...does for the psychological
disorders that disable human beings.
is a proven aid to psychological development. Ken Wilber cites research
which indicates that meditation is the only proven way to move our psychological
development beyond what he calls the “sensitive self” stage to the “integrative”
and “holistic” stages. He noted, “Less than 2 percent of the adult
population scores at Jane Loevinger’s highest two stages of self development
(autonomous and integrated),” and went on to say, “No practice (including
psychotherapy, holotropic breathwork, or NLP) has been shown to substantially
increase that percentage. With one exception: studies have
shown that consistent meditation practice over a several-year period
increases that percentage from 2 percent to an astonishing 38 percent….”
 (Emphasis his.)
research is starting to tell us why meditation is such a powerful tool.
Tenzin Gyatso (the current Dalai Lama) wrote in the New York Times
about research by Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin that
explored the effect of mindfulness meditation on brain function. In
the Dalai Lama’s words: “mindfulness meditation strengthens the neurological
circuits that calm a part of the brain that acts as a trigger for fear
and anger.” Some of Davidson’s research involved people who worked in
highly stressful jobs. Regarding this, the Dalai Lama said: “These people
— non-Buddhists — were taught mindfulness, a state of alertness in which
the mind does not get caught up in thoughts or sensations, but lets
them come and go much like watching a river flow by. After eight weeks,
Davidson found that in these people, the parts of their brains that
help to form positive emotions became increasingly active.” The Dalai
Lama went on to say, “It’s worth noting that these methods are not just
useful, but inexpensive. You don’t need a drug or an injection. You
don’t have to become a Buddhist or adopt any particular religious faith.
Everybody has the potential to lead a peaceful, meaningful life.”  An important
point here is that meditation can be approached as a secular, psychological
practice, devoid of any association with religion or spirituality.
education for wisdom really a possibility? Many people admire wise individuals
but assume that wisdom’s arrival in their own life is just a matter
of chance. That, however, is not the view of people who have spent time
exploring what wisdom is and the various factors involved in its development.
They understand that people can help themselves and each other to become
wiser. Let’s look at what wisdom education might look like 1) in K-12
elementary and secondary schools, 2) in colleges and universities, and
3) for self-directed adults.
In Elementary and Secondary Schools
has recognized the need to begin wisdom education at an early age. Furthermore,
he has suggested a promising approach:
the centre of wisdom-education, from the age of five (let us suppose)
onwards, there would be a discussion seminar, concerned to encourage
children to engage in the activity of articulating and scrutinizing
problems and their possible solutions. This seminar would be conducted
in such a way as to encourage open-ended, uninhibited discussion, there
being no prohibition on what problems can be discussed, what solutions
considered. War, sex, death, power, the nature of the universe, money,
politics, fame, pop stars, parents, school, work, marriage, the meaning
of life, evolution, God, failure, drugs, love, suffering, happiness:
whatever it is that the children find fascinating or disturbing, and
want to discuss, deserves to be discussed. Where there are no known
or agreed answers, the teacher must acknowledge this. The teacher must
readily acknowledge his or her own personal ignorance or uncertainties,
in addition to confessing his or her convictions. The main task of the
teacher will be to try to ensure that the children speak one at a time,
that everyone gets a chance to speak, and that those who are not speaking
listen. The teacher will also, of course, try to establish a spirit
of generosity towards the ideas of others, while at the same time encouraging
criticism and argument. The main object of the seminar is to enable
children to discover for themselves the value of cooperative, imaginative,
rational problem-solving by taking part in it themselves. 
of other approaches that have already been put into practice? Wisdom
researcher Anne Adams has explored eight “integral” education programs.
“Integral education,” she says, “addresses the whole person by creating
an environment in which students engage in learning processes and experiences
that focus on developing and integrating the mental, physical emotional,
and spiritual intelligences.”  She explored
programs associated with 1) Sri Atmananda, 2) Krishnamurti, 3) Montessori,
4) Fox (Quaker schools), 5) Sri Aurobindo, 6) Gandhi, 7) Yogananda (The
Living Wisdom Schools), and 8) Steiner (creator of the Waldorf Schools).
In her doctoral dissertation she presents the results of her research
and offers a “systemic integral model of education...designed to initiate
a paradigmatic shift in our relationship with education.”  She would start
this integral education at conception, with the parents-to-be, in a
campus-like environment where people of all ages have access to resources:
campus is a learning community and epitomizes a living system that is
dynamic and co-created by its members. People of all ages, i.e., young
people, couples, children, students, parents, elders, teachers, community
members, etc., come to the campus for education: classes, workshops,
access to experts, resources, e.g., books, tapes, experiential practices.
They are assisted in learning more about what education, learning experiences,
practices and knowledge are essential in developing and integrating
their mental, spiritual, emotional and physical intelligences. Whatever
they are addressing in their current stage of growth is supported by
an integral education approach. 
values are central to wisdom, an excellent beginning to wisdom education
would seem to be the introduction of values education in public school
systems. North American parents with strong religious views have resisted
the idea, but beginning in the 1990s values education began to find
acceptance as “character education.” The most popular of these programs
is called CHARACTER COUNTS!. According to the program’s staff, CHARACTER
COUNTS! “affects over 6 million kids worldwide, has over 800 coalition
members, and is in thousands of schools.”  The program is built around “Six Pillars of
Character”: Trustworthiness (honesty, integrity, reliability,
loyalty), Respect (civility, courtesy and decency; dignity and
autonomy; tolerance and acceptance), Responsibility (accountability,
pursuit of excellence, self-restraint), Fairness (process, impartiality,
equity), Caring, and Citizenship.  The Josephson Institute of
Ethics originated the program, and supplies schools with materials to
help teachers implement the program in their classrooms.
meditation was mentioned earlier, and a New York Times article titled
“In the Classroom, a New Focus on Quieting the Mind” presents examples
of how in its secular form mindfulness meditation is being employed
in classrooms. One study of the practice revealed “increased control
over attention and less negative internal chatter.” Another “found
that meditation techniques helped improve mood disorders, depression,
and self-harming behaviors like anorexia and bulimia.” The Principal
of one elementary school that uses the technique commented: “If we can
help children slow down and think, they have answers within themselves.” 
Windhorst has reported on a program in which history was used as a vehicle
for teaching wisdom. The “Teaching for Wisdom through History” course
materials were developed at the PACE center headed by wisdom researcher
Robert Sternberg. The developers say, “This curriculum goes beyond the
teaching of content knowledge to integrate wise and critical thinking
skills into a historical context.” Windhorst reports on the application
of the materials in one eighth-grade class. Students were led to examine
a number of “historical dilemmas” faced by the American colonists in
1776. They read different accounts of the same events, and considered
discordant elements such as Thomas Jefferson writing “the lofty sentiments
expressed in the Declaration of Independence while at the same time
owning black slaves whom he believed were inferior to whites.”
In Colleges and Universities
from the various programs already mentioned, what wisdom-fostering activities
are going on in universities today? Positive psychology courses are
one, and they are currently being offered at more than 100 US colleges
and universities. The most popular of these appears to be the one taught
by Tal Ben-Shahar at Harvard. In the spring of 2006 enrollment was 855
students, making it Harvard’s most popular course. Ben-Shahar has said,
“My goal is to create a bridge between the Ivory Tower and Main Street,
to bring together the rigor of academia and the accessibility of self-help.
If the class has a rigorous academic foundation, which it does, then
why not try to help people lead better lives?”  For those interested, videos
of the 23 lectures that Ben-Shahar gave that semester can be downloaded
from the Harvard website.
Association of American Colleges and Universities has more than 1100
member institutions, and has recently initiated a program to bring into
the functioning of these schools a greater emphasis on a number of qualities
of wisdom, including:
to local, national and global society;
and acting on the obligation to inform one’s own judgment;
a sense of entitlement;
and competing perspectives; and
and moral reasoning.
the Core Commitments initiative, 196 college and university presidents
have, at this writing, “pledged their leadership and best efforts in
support of a far-reaching engagement with issues of ethical, personal,
and civic responsibility.” 
are individuals in colleges and universities who are doing what they
can to convince colleagues and administrators to move their institutions
in the direction that Nicholas Maxwell has outlined for us. One of them
is Alan Nordstrom - Professor of English at Rollins College, a liberal
arts college in Winter Park, Florida. In 2006, I had the pleasure of
spending two weeks with him in support of that effort.  The experience
led me to conclude that instututional transformation is likely to take
place only if, in the early stages of the process, highly motivated
individuals are actively selling the vision.
the late 1990s there were meetings in Burkina Faso of a "Council
of the Wise." This was a group of people from different countries
and backgrounds who wanted to foster the development of wisdom in African
culture. A useful outcome of these meetings was the identification of
four levels of wisdom development.
Sages includes almost everyone. These are busy people who have
the potential to become wise, but have never felt the call to intentionally
in Intention have come to understand what wisdom is, realize that
they have the potential to become wise, and have decided, as the Council
put it, to “follow the path of their potential.”
Sages are actively involved in wisdom-developing activities.
Sages are those who are recognized by others as wise people.
can those Sages in Intention do to become Developing Sages?
If you live in or near Rochester, New York, you could sign up for Richard
Trowbridge’s three-month “Developing Wisdom” course.
 Trowbridge has been deeply involved with the subject
– his PhD dissertation being a treatise on the history of wisdom and
the wisdom research conducted between 1980 to 2005.
 For most of us, however, moving from stage to stage
will be an exercise in self-directed learning.
develop wisdom we need to develop the characteristics of wisdom – the
relevant perspectives, and values, and intellectual knowledge – and
incorporate them into our lives. Elsewhere I have suggested nine
wisdom-fostering activities and discussed them in some detail: 
A clear understanding
of what wisdom is
and various kinds of psychotherapy
knowledge that is relevant to the kind of wisdom we are trying to
Full and varied
counsel from wise people
of behavior – our own and others
help us internalize values
just how does one develop that clear understanding of what wisdom
is” and learn more about the other items on the list? When writing
two general-readership books on wisdom in the early 1990s
 I became acutely aware of the lack of information on
the subject. Consequently, in 1995 I decided to move my wisdom education
focus to the Internet, and created a website to help fill the void.
Called The Wisdom Page, it is a compilation of wisdom-related
resources. The site has grown in usefulness and visitor numbers over
the years, and is currently located at www.wisdompage.com. It
has content in the following categories:
Acquainted with Wisdom Why care about wisdom? What is wisdom?
Words of wisdom Wisdom-literature bibliographies The
traditional wisdom literature Contemporary books about wisdom
and wise living (including free downloads) Wisdom-related poetry
Structure of Wisdom The varieties of wisdom Wise perspectives
Wise values The integration of truth and the integral vision
and Humanity's Future
Research Links to materials of individual researchers
for Wisdom Development Defining the task—constructing a wisdom-based
life The meditation tool Other practices and tools
Wisdom-related sight and sound media Other wisdom-related resources
Issues Transforming academia from knowledge-inquiry to wisdom-inquiry
Spirituality and wisdom in business
in Action Comments on activist wisdom and socio-cultural wisdom
World Wisdom Alliance Activist organizations Dialogue
instead of debate
Quests for Wisdom
site also incorporates several “Web 2” features including RSS feed and
monthly email newsletters to notify interested people of new content,
streaming audio and video, podcasts, a custom search engine focused
on wisdom-related issues, and free downloads of doctoral dissertations
and eBooks. Clearly, The Wisdom Page is not the total answer
to the self-directed learner’s problems, but it is perhaps a helpful
place to start.
Maxwell is right; his proposed program has not revolutionized the functioning
of entire academic institutions or academe as a whole. But to my eyes,
there is much evidence that his core approach – focusing on human problems
and then acquiring relevant knowledge to do something about them – is
happening in a widespread and gradually increasing way. Individuals
who have seen the light, whether via Maxwell’s writings or otherwise,
have been developing courses, programs, departments, and in a few cases
whole schools, that address some aspect or other of the human problematique.
The more successful of these are responding in rational and creative
ways to raise awareness of the chosen problem area and, as Maxwell put
it, to “propose and critically assess possible solutions, possible actions
or policies, from the standpoint of their capacity, if implemented,
to promote wiser ways of living.”
 Others, like Professor Alan Nordstrom, are attempting
to transform their entire institutions – again, via reason and logic
in the service of wisdom.
seems to me that From Knowledge to Wisdom was, in 1984, a book
ahead of its time. Based on the current evidence, some of which I have
presented in this chapter, I conclude that the time for wisdom-inquiry
has finally come. One aim of the book you are now reading is the dissemination
of Maxwell’s ideas to a wider audience. I hope it succeeds in doing
that. I feel confident that there are many people in academic institutions
around the world whose personal inclinations toward betterment will
find encouragement from, and a helpful framework within, the work of
 . Nicholas Maxwell, From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution
in the Aims and Methods of Science (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984),
 . Michel
de Montaigne, "On Presumption," The Complete Essays,
ed. M.A. Screech, (London: Penguin Books, Penguin Classics edition,
1993), Book II, Essay 17, pp. 749-50.
 . Nicholas
Maxwell, Is Science Neurotic?, (London: Imperial College Press,
2004), p. 71.
 . Maxwell,
1984, p. 3.
 . Matthew
Iredale, “From knowledge-inquiry to wisdom-inquiry: is the revolution
underway?” London Review of Education, 5:2 (July 2007),
 . Maxwell,
1984, p. 66.
 . Nicholas
Maxwell, The Human World in the Physical Universe: Consciousness,
Free Will, and Evolution (Oxford: Rowan & Littlefield, 2001),
 . Maxwell,
2004, pp. 92-93, note 20.
 . Nicholas
Maxwell, “From knowledge to wisdom: the need for an academic revolution”
London Review of Education, 5:2 (July 2007), p. 97.
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