On practical wisdom

Note: this article refers to the practical side of wisdom. The word “wise” should, therefore, be interpreted with a degree of practicality and direct applicability in mind.


To be wise is to know the consequences of your actions.

But humans are flawed prediction machines. No matter the degree of applied effort, the only certain thing we can say about the future is that is no certainty around it.

Thus, we cannot accurately predict the consequences of actions. And therefore, we will never be wise in the word’s truest sense.

Attaining wisdom is not a goal in itself. It is impossible in its entirety. There is no entirety when it comes to wisdom. There are only degrees of it, each more complete in and of itself, but never complete in an empirical way. Like drawing concentric circles ad infinitum.

Since absolute accuracy is impossible, wise people think in probabilities. In this sense, to be wise is to be able to rationally evaluate, with a high degree of accuracy, the probability of a future event, while being as specific as you can about it.

High accuracy and high specificity are the key differentiators. But these are like opposing forces. It is easy to satisfy one if you ignore the other. Wise people look for the right balance between the two as they are determined by their thinking in the present moment.

You will never know with absolute certainty. But to be wise is to know, fully understand, and still embrace this.