The Wisdom Page 


Wisdom, Nicholas Maxwell, and the Academic Enterprise
a brief introduction by Copthorne Macdonald

Nicholas Maxwell notes that "two great problems of learning confront humanity: learning about the nature of the universe and our place in it, and learning how to become civilized." Science has focused on the first of these problems, but no enterprise of similar scope and magnitude has been mounted to address the second. Starting with his 1984 book From Knowledge to Wisdom, Maxwell has sought to bring "about a revolution in the nature of academic inquiry as a whole so that it takes up its proper task of helping humanity become wiser." He feels that the social sciences — history, anthropology, political economy, psychology, and sociology — got off on the wrong foot by focusing primarily on present and past realities rather than the improvement of the human situation. Long out of print, we are delighted that Pentire Press has now published an updated second edition of this seminal work.

A brief introduction to Maxwell's ideas can be found in his article "Do We Need an Academic Revolution". In "Can Humanity Learn to Become Civilized? — Part 1", Part 2, and Part 3 he goes into more detail. A brief biography appears at the end of Part 3. Information about his recent books can be found at and other online booksellers. Check out his Personal Web Site.

Nicholas Maxwell also started The Friends of Wisdom, an association of people "charged with the heavy responsibility of bringing wisdom to academia so that it in turn may bring wisdom to the world." There is now a website for this group: There you will find membership information and many useful resources.