Wisdom

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Classical/ancient

  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. ~ Proverbs 9:10
  • Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
  • Wisdom begins in wonder. ~ Socrates
    • Variant: Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
  • Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness. ~ Sophocles
  • By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~ Confucius
  • Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own. ~ Aesop
  • It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish. ~ Aeschylus
  • Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. ~ Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:16)
  • Men who love wisdom should acquaint themselves with a great many particulars. ~ Heraclitus
  • The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man. ~ Euripides
  • To the fool, he who speaks wisdom will sound foolish. ~ Euripides
  • There are many who know many things, yet are lacking in wisdom. ~ Democritus
  • Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong. ~ Lao Zi (Lao-Tzu)
  • Wise men hear and see as little children do. ~ Lao-Tzu
  • Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise. ~ Cato
  • And in knowing, that you know nothing, makes you the smartest of all. ~ Socrates
  • In the wisdom of his heart a wise man ought to adorn himself with wise precepts. ~ Anglo-Saxon Proverb
  • Better Weight
    than wisdom
    a traveller cannot carry.
    The poor man's strength
    in a strange place,
    worth more than wealth. ~ Hávamál, The Sayings of the Vikings.

Medieval/Renaissance/Enlightenment

  • In seeking wisdom, the first step is silence; the second, listening; the third, remembering; the fourth, practicing; the fifth, teaching others. ~ Ibn Gabirol
  • A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. ~ Francis Bacon
  • There is no great concurrence between learning and wisdom. ~ Francis Bacon
  • It should be noted that the seeds of wisdom that are to bear fruit in the intellect are sown less by critical studies and learned monographs than by insights, broad impressions, and flashes of intuition. ~ Carl von Clausewitz
  • A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. ~ David Hume
  • A wise man will desire no more than what he may get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly. ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • Honesty is the first chapter in the Book of wisdom. Let it be our endeavor to merit the character of a just nation. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • All human wisdom is summed up in two words - wait and hope. ~ Alexandre Dumas
  • The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotations. ~ Isaac D'Israeli
  • To keep your secret is wisdom; to expect others to keep it is folly. ~ Samuel Johnson
  • Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish. ~ Anne Bradstreet
  • Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best ends by the best means. ~ Francis Hutcheson, Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, I. v.

Later 18th and 19th century

  • Be humble, if thou would'st attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still, when Wisdom thou hast mastered. ~ Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
  • To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
  • It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • In our age... men seem more than ever prone to confuse wisdom with knowledge, and knowledge with information, and to try to solve problems of life in terms of engineering. ~ T.S. Eliot
  • The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom; for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough. ~ William Blake
  • Re-examine all you have been told . . . Dismiss what insults your Soul. ~ Walt Whitman
  • Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. ~ Immanuel Kant
  • We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it— and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again— and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. ~ Mark Twain

Modern era (20th/21st centuries)

  • Wisdom is meaningless until our own experience has given it meaning...and there is wisdom in the selection of wisdom. ~ Bergen Evans
  • A man doesn't begin to attain wisdom until he recognizes that he is no longer indispensable. ~ Admiral Richard E. Byrd
  • A man never reaches that dizzy height of wisdom when he can no longer be led by the nose. ~ Mark Twain
  • If Wisdom was before all, and through wisdom all things are ordered, then Wisdom must be truth in view of eternity. For that which was before time, by nature, transcends all things temporal. Wisdom is truth absolute, truth eternal. It is the antithesis of vanity and all things that rise like a vapor before the sun. ~ Elika S. Kohen
  • A word to the wise ain't necessary. It's the stupid ones who need the advice. ~ Bill Cosby
  • As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world— that is the myth of the atomic age— as in being able to remake ourselves. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. Lin Yutang
  • Information isn't wisdom. Information isn't learning. If information were learning, you could be educated by memorizing the world almanac. If you did that, you wouldn't be educated. You'd be weird ~ David McCullough
  • It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf. ~ Walter Lippman
  • It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it. ~ Stephen Covey
  • Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner. ~ General Omar Bradley
  • Philosophy is harmonized knowledge making a harmonious life; it is the self-discipline which lifts us to serenity and freedom. Knowledge is power, but only wisdom is liberty. ~ Will Durant
  • The most basic inherent constraint is that neither time nor wisdom are free goods available in unlimited quantity. This means that in social processes, as in economic processes, it is not only impossible to attain perfection but irrational to seek perfection— or even to seek the "best possible" result in each separate instance. ~ Thomas Sowell
  • The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. ~ H. L. Mencken
  • The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ~ Isaac Asimov, Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988
  • The wise man doesn't give the right answers, he poses the right questions. ~ Claude Levi-Strauss
  • To act with common sense according to the moment, is the best wisdom I know and the best philosophy is to do one's duties, take the world as it comes submit respectfully to one's lot; bless the goodness that has given us so much happiness with it, whatever it is; and despise affectation. ~ Horace Walpole
  • When you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wise. ~ Whittaker Chambers
  • Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it. ~ Albert Einstein
  • Wisdom is the meeting point of doubt and certainty. ~ Leonid S. Sukhorukov, All About Everything, 2005
  • A poet begins in delight and ends in wisdom. ~ Robert Frost
  • Wisdom is the constant questioning of where you are. And when you stop wanting to know, you're dead. ~ Billy Connolly, Daily Express, 29th October 2008
  • Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences. ~ Norman Cousins

Unattributed/anonymous

  • A counsellor who understands proverbs soon sets matters right. ~ Anonymous
  • A man may be born to wealth, but wisdom comes only with length of days. ~ Anonymous
  • A man with wisdom is better off than a stupid man with any amount of charms and superstition. ~ Anonymous
  • Age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone. ~ Unknown
  • Don't fix it if it ain't broken. ~ Anonymous American saying
  • Know thyself better than he who speaks of thee. ~ Anonymous
  • Knowledge cuts up the world. Wisdom makes it whole. ~ Brazilian proverb
  • Not to know is bad, not to wish to know is worse. ~ Anonymous
  • Humility and knowledge breed wisdom. ~ Anonymous
  • There is wisdom in knowing what you need to know, and being wise enough to keep it to yourself. ~ Anonymous
  • A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. ~ Frequently attributed to Plato, but not apparently found in his work

Uncategorized

  • Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. ~ Lin Yutang
  • Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit. ~ Elbert Hubbard
  • For as it is the chief concern of wise men to retrench the evils of life by the reasonings of philosophy; it is the employment of fools to multiply them by the sentiments of superstition. ~ Joseph Addison
  • Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life. ~ George Arliss
  • In that the wisdom of the few becomes available to the many, there is progress in human affairs; without it, the static routine of tradition continues. ~ Jospeh Jastrow
  • It is astonishing with how little wisdom mankind can be governed, when that little wisdom is its own. ~ W. R. Inge
  • It is for the wise people who delight in humanity, praise justice, despise their flatterers, and respect the truth. ~ Jeanne-Marie Roland
  • It is no longer enough to be smart— all the technological tools in the world add meaning and value only if they enhance our core values, the deepest part of our heart. Acquiring knowledge is no guarantee of practical, useful application. Wisdom implies a mature integration of appropriate knowledge, a seasoned ability to filter the inessential from the essential. ~ Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer in Chaos to Coherence
  • It's not what you've been given, it's what you do with what you've got. ~ Eddi Reader
  • Make men wise, and by that very operation you make them free. Civil liberty follows as a consequence of this; no usurped power can stand against the artillery of opinion. ~ William Godwin
  • Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives. ~ Abba Eban
  • Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience. ~ James Boswell
  • Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living, the other helps you make a life. ~ Sandra Carey
  • One's first step in wisdom is to question everything— and one's last is to come to terms with everything. ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  • Preconcieved notions are the locks on the door to wisdom. ~ Merry Browne
  • Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy. ~Howard W. Newton
  • The biggest difficulty with mankind today is that our knowledge has increased so much faster than our wisdom ~ Frank Whitmore
  • The plainest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness: her state is like that of things in the regions above the moon, always clear and serene. ~ Michel de Montaigne
    • Variant: The highest of wisdom is continual cheerfulness: such a state, like the region above the moon, is always clear and serene.
  • You can be so wise it's a surprise you're so poor. ~ Swami Raj
  • The wise learn from the experience of others, and the creative know how to make a crumb of experience go a long way. ~ Eric Hoffer
  • Truth never plays false roles of any kind, which is why people are so surprised when meeting it. Everyone must decide whether he wants the uncompromising truth or a counterfeit version of truth. Real wisdom consists of recommending the truth to yourself at every opportunity. ~ Vernon Howard
  • We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me. ~ Jack Handy
  • Wisdom and goodness are twin-born, one heart Must hold both sisters, never seen apart. ~ William Cowper
  • Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it. ~ David Starr Jordan
  • Wise anger is like fire from a flint: there is great ado to get it out; and when it does come, it is out again immediately. ~ Matthew Henry
  • Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible. ~ Eric Hoffer
  • Knowledge is knowing that the street is one way, wisdom is looking both directions anyways. ~ Anonymous
  • For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. ~ Solomon
  • Wise men say nothing in dangerous times. ~ Aesop
  • When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. ~ Mark Twain
  • I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf. ~ Walter Lippmann
  • All I know is that I know nothing. ~ Socrates
  • Above all else, the greatest gift and the most wondrous blessing hath ever been and will continue to be Wisdom. ~ Bahá'u'lláh
  • It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. ~ Thoreau
  • I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. ~ Thomas Carlyle
  • He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. ~ Gandalf, from J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
  • The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. ~ William James (1842-1910)

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