Spring 2016 Wisdom Course Study Questions

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Return to Wisdom

12/13 JAN

19/20 JAN

1. Using the vocabulary introduced by Hall in Ch. 1 and the majors "figures and movements" what can we infer about the major approaches human cultures have taken to wisdom?

2. What sort of case can be made for the "irreality of wisdom" - ways of doubting or questioning the reality of wisdom?

3. Is wisdom gendered? Was wisdom gendered?

26/27 JAN

1. Summarize Gisela Labouvie-Vief's distinction between objective and organismic thought, especially her view that "organismic" thought is not just subjectivism. How does she apply this to wisdom? Do you agree or disagree?

2. Evaluate the "older is wiser" thesis. Why do we associate wisdom with age and in what ways should we qualify this association?

3. How does Clayton and Birren's MDS study help us theorize the main components of a construct of wisdom? What does it tell us about the "older is wiser" thesis?

4. How does Ardelt's research help us think about the relationship between wisdom, objective life conditions, and life satisfaction?

5. How does Cartensen's "time horizon" research help us think about the "older is wiser" thesis and the role of time perception in wisdom?

2/3 FEB

1. Drawing on Clayton and Birren, add some detail to your picture of the history of wisdom.

2. What are some of the main constructs for Wisdom research, according to Clayton and Birren?

3. How does Hall use the career of Vivian Clayton to illustrate the emergence of wisdom in psychological research literature?

4. Given the evidence from Hall Ch. 4 and last week, how do you theorize the role of emotional regulation? Is it inherently linked to aging and inappropriate to cultivate in youth or is it a trainable capacity, as reasonable a goal for a 25 year old as for a 65 year old?

9/10 FEB

1. How does the Baltes construct for wisdom theorize intelligence, model knowledge in wisdom and related factors. What are its strengths? How might it be criticized?

2. What role do heuristics play in the cultivation of wisdom? How does SOC theory in particular present itself as a theory with a wisdom-related heuristic?

3. Could you become wiser in the Baltes sense (score well on a Baltes think aloud) without become any different as a person? Should wisdom change you or is it primarily as set of skills and heuristics that you apply to problems?

16/17 FEB

1. What is the relationship between wisdom and morality?

2. How does contemporary, "biologized" moral and evolutionary psychology reconceive the traditional project of ethics?

2. How might thinking of wisdom as requiring a moral outlook change or add to the construct of wisdom we encountered with Baltes?

23/24 FEB

1. Evaluate the Buddhist analysis of suffering in terms of the challenges of wisdom.

2. What is the Buddhist diagnosis of suffering?

3. What is the Buddhist remedy for suffering? Would someone who had made progress toward enlightenment be a wise person?

1/2 MAR

1. What does recent research tell us about the neuroscience of decision making?

2. What are the implications, for wisdom, of this research? For example, what part of living wisely involves expected value problems?

3. What does recent research tell us about adversity and resilience in relation to wisdom? How does this help solve the "older is wiser" problem?

15/16 MAR

1. How does a Stoic approach wisdom? Consider objections and responses to stoicism in your account.

2. What is gene-culture co-evolution and how can it be part of an explanation for large scale cooperation? How does this give rise to the possibility of "wise culture"?

22/23 MAR

1. What can we learn from anthropology of religion about the ways in which human cultures promote cooperation, conformity to social rules, and compliance with good advice for well-being?

2. What are some challenges of deriving the traditional benefits of religious culture today, especially in the absence of homogeneous religious societies?

29/30 MAR

1. Can Haidt's emotion of "elevation" help solve the problem of promoting wisdom culture through religion without exciting in group / out group psychology?

2. What critical judgments should we be prepared to make of the "sick societies" discussed in Edgarton? How can you tell when you are getting closer to making judgments that reflect objective standards as opposed to cultural chauvanism?

3. What can we learn from game theory about the problem of sustaining wise cultures?

5/6 APR

1. How do "proverbs" work in Proverbs? What kinds of appeals do proverbs make? How does this connects with our study of wisdom culture?

2. What is Job's problem? Why are his visitors' of such little use to him? What is Job's wisdom?

12/13 APR

1. What is the "problem" in Ecclesiastes and what wisdom advice is offered? Is it useful to us?

2. What is the message of Song of Solmon and what is the implication of having it in the Hebrew Bible?

19/20 APR

1. How does introspection work? How does the "adaptive unconscious" pose a challenge to the acquisition and development of wisdom?

2. What, if anything can we do about the alleged opacity of consciousness to itself?

26/27 APR

FINAL WEEK