Philosophy: Wisdom

Ref: C2339123

Wisdom has had a changeable history in philosophy. In Ancient Greece, to become a philosopher meant to become wise. But much of current academic study of the subject just sees Philosophy as a set of thinking tools. This course explores what it means to be wise; the relationship between wisdom and knowledge, and between wisdom and intelligence; and the view of wisdom in Philosophy. Examples from the history of Western (and some Eastern) philosophy will be used. Knowledge of Philosophy is not expected.

Course aim

To give students the opportunity to explore and evaluate different philosophical ways of understanding wisdom and its relationship to knowledge and the question of how to lead a good life

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • suitable for anyone interested - no previous knowledge of Philosophy expected

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain your own understanding of wisdom
  • Summarise and evaluate the understanding of wisdom in Ancient Greek philosophy or in the Buddhist tradition
  • Summarize and evaluate a current philosophical theory of wisdom (of your choice)
  • Summarize and evaluate key arguments for and against including wisdom in Philosophy

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You will be expected to carry out a range of activities in your own time
  • 'homework' will be encouraged but not expected

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • TED talks on wisdom TED talk on Buddhism

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • J Annas, Ancient Greek Philosophy (OUP 2000) C.C.W. Taylor, Socrates (OUP 2000), especially pp.46-52 D Keown, Buddhism (OUP 2000) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosphy, entry on wisdom ( more demanding)

Download full Course information sheet

Philosophy: Wisdom


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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