Center Pointe Research Institute Director Bill Harris once said, “Mastery of life is all about awareness.” Harris was referring to the ability to become self-aware of our thoughts by reflecting and meditating. Thus, increasing our wisdom-related knowledge in order to live a more holistic and productive life. In “Intellectual Versus Wisdom Related Knowledge: The case For a Different Kind of Learning in the Later Years of Life, Ardelt (2000) discusses in great length the differences between intellectual knowledge and wisdom based knowledge, and the advantage that wisdom based knowledge has over the intellect. Ardelt does this by providing a well-documented and systematic study in which she compares and explains the benefits of both forms of knowledge. As a result, Ardelt breaks down her paper in the following topics: goals, approach, Range of knowledge, acquisition of knowledge, effects on the knower, and relationship to aging. Thus, at the end of Ardelt’s papers she concludes that in order to live a long healthy life we must become wise through the examination and practical application of our own life experiences.
What are the main differences between intellectual knowledge and wisdom-related knowledge? Is there really a difference? According to Ardelt (2000) “intellectual knowledge enables the elderly to stay involved in worldly affairs, wisdom-related knowledge helps them to prepare for physical and social decline and ultimately their own death” (p. 773). As we can see, there are fundamental differences that play a significant role when it comes to a well-balanced life style during the aging process of an adult person. This is significant because wisdom-related knowledge is universal and it never changes. Whereas the ability to retain intellectual knowledge decreases with age, wisdom related knowledge is the one thing we can retain providing that we have a healthy mind.
Furthermore, Ardelt (2000) points out that intellectual knowledge is based on the accumulation of quantitative information while wisdom-related knowledge focuses on the acquisition through experience of qualitative information. According to Ardelt (2000) this type of wisdom-related knowledge is the type of knowledge that helps us reflect about our existence and purpose here on earth (p. 776). Therefore, unlike intellectual knowledge, wisdom related knowledge helps us determine how we should view or handle a certain situation. Moreover, intellectual knowledge is primarily found outside of ourselves, that is, we must learn it from independent outside sources. In contrast, wisdom-related knowledge is the type of knowledge that is found within us. This is significant because it is a Universal based knowledge that transcends time and space. It does not require the need of updating or revising. Thus, “wisdom-related knowledge searches for answers to the meaning and purpose of life and the human situation in particular…” (Ardelt, 2000, p. 777). In contrast, intellectual knowledge is independent of the human observer and therefore it can be easily learned, passed and shared with others.
In conclusion, there are significant differences between intellectual knowledge and wisdom-related knowledge. They are both necessary for the growth and development of the individual; however, wisdom related knowledge is invaluable as it helps the elderly person deal with life in a more holistic, efficient, and harmonious way. Moreover, by expanding our level of awareness – through meditation and reflection – at an early age anyone can benefit from this amazing source of knowledge, which has the potential to impact humanity in a positive and meaningful way.