Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought
The culmination of nearly twenty years of research and practical study, Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought is an impassioned polemic in which Jason A. Merchey rails against the apparent depreciation of wisdom in US society. Highlighting recent political turmoil and suboptimal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ongoing economic difficulties and the mounting cost of climate change, as the consequences of a lack of wisdom at all levels of society, he advocates for a return to the pursuit of wisdom more commonly seen during earlier eras, which he considers to have the potential to remedy all of society’s ills. In other words, Merchey perceives wisdom as “a treasure beyond measure.”
The initial problem, as Merchey acknowledges in his introduction to Wisdom, is that wisdom can prove easy to recognize but hard to define. Moreover, it is not possible to simply acquire wisdom and then be done with it; rather, the process of becoming wise is an ongoing one with a final destination that is unlikely to ever be reached. To overcome such hurdles, Merchey examines the many facets of wisdom, offering exemplar virtues, practical tools, and relevant readings to help interested individuals start down their own path toward achieving wisdom and, hopefully, contributing to the betterment of society.
Among the virtues that Merchey contends should be cultivated in an effort to secure wisdom are insight and intuition, which he subjects to a detailed examination in the third chapter of Wisdom. Drawing on examples from his own life, as well as from the lives and works of some of history’s greatest thinkers, he assesses the two concepts from the theoretical and philosophical perspectives and sets out the benefits and potential pitfalls of each. He also offers some practical means of enhancing both insight and intuition and determining when they should be applied. Another particularly enlightening chapter concerns the virtues of doubt, skepticism, and intellectual humility, which are likely to prove particularly valuable in this time of fake news and conspiracy theories.
All of Wisdom’s chapters contain some pretty dense material and discussion of rather weighty topics, although Merchey generally succeeds in rendering such matters readable for the layperson. Greater organization within each chapter, particularly the use of headings and subheadings, would have helped with this. As an impressive and not always interconnected range of topics are debated throughout the book, the chapters do not necessarily need to be read in order. Indeed, given the diverse directions in which Merchey’s thoughts flow and the plethora of quotations he includes in each chapter, it is likely that readers will be inspired to seek out other sources to expand their understanding of the relevant virtues before moving on through the book.
Overall, Wisdom contains a treasure trove of material, examples, and words of encouragement that are sure to inspire the pursuit of greater wisdom, which should hopefully benefit both the individual reader and society as a whole.
|Author||Jason A. Merchey|
|Page Count||389 pages|
|Publisher||Values of the Wise, LLC|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|