EF6 SHOW NOTES
Looking to play or download the episode? Click here…(EF6) S1-E4: Information Mainlining and the Folly of Modern Wisdom (Season One, Episode Four)
How Do You Acquire Widsom?
The big question driving Episode EF6 is … How do you acquire wisdom? To make something out of your life, you need knowledge. From the moment you’re born, you begin to absorb the basics of living. You start school and gather even more knowledge that hopefully will become useful later in life. But what about wisdom? Is it possible to learn to be wise? Or maybe wisdom only comes with age. But that would imply every old person is wise?
An even better question: is wisdom necessary for leading a satisfying life? It certainly seems useful, but what exactly do you get from it? Finally, does prudence require you to know more than the basic math back from elementary school? Or maybe, wisdom overshadows traditional knowledge and a person can be wise (or dumb) no matter the number of finished books under their belt?
DEDICATION: Episode EF6 is dedicated to Bill Gates, a man well known to consume enormous amounts of books and leverage that knowledge to change the world in incredible ways. Gates started by programming a simple tic-tac-toe game and grew that meager start into the what would become the most influential software stack in the personal computing revolution. And now through his Gates Foundation, initially funded with billions of his own capital, it’s hard to imagine any living person who will have a more positive impact on the world.
Being one of the wealthiest people in the world and the co-founder of one of the biggest tech companies doesn’t come at a small price. And success isn’t a synonym for wisdom. Imagining him to be a Gandalf type of character is an exaggeration on its own. But in his case, wisdom has evolved from his particular brand of applied knowledge acquisition and global entrepreneurship.
Gates might not have a long beard or post wise quotes on Instagram and Twitter. But through wisely selected projects, he might save more lives and improve the planet more than any person in history. If there were a case study in the power of effective altruism, it would have to be him. He’s now tackling some of the root causes of climate change as well, which will also contribute to his extraordinary legacy.
HOW BILL GATES INSPIRES EF6
Episode EF6 is all about overcoming the step between being knowledgeable and being wise and discovering the obstacles that lie between. We can say Gates pulls this off, but our protagonist still has a long road ahead of him. Bill Gates is proof that you can information mainline and still become wise; the effort is not ‘folly’ as the episode title suggests if you approach the project strategically.
If you need more insight in Gates’ work, check out the links below:
INSPIRATIONS: Albert Einstein, whose E = mc2 changed the world and became the foundation of modern physics. Who would’ve thought three letters, one number and an equals sign could influence so much. Aristotle, the Father of Western Philosophy which is an enormous achievement for a guy who lived two millennia ago with no WiFi connectivity. Alan Turing, a great computer scientist without whom you’d likely be reading this text on a different interface. He also invented Banburismus and it isn’t what you might think it is. George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher
Episode Ef6 summary
Paul, a child prodigy who became a leading theoretical physicist in his early 30s, is facing a personal dilemma that is making him miserable—the realization that he might be woefully deficient in the one thing he most reveres. Although filled with endless knowledge, he isn’t wise. But how? Isn’t harnessing more and more information the key to becoming wise? In his attempt to figure it out, Paul might realize the obstacle he’s facing isn’t even close to being the final one. And can he feel like a complete person without it?
The idea of wisdom goes back to Ancient Greece, from Socrates and Plato to modern day reinterpretations and research by sociologists like Monika Ardelt. In this episode’s exploration, the real questions come forth. Even if we can define wisdom, is that enough to come by it? Can anyone become truly wise in this world of rapidly changing information? And what will happen to the world if wisdom is declining in reverse proportion to the volumes of information available every day?
Aristotle [trans. W. D. Ross, and Lesley Brown]. 2009. The Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ardelt, M. (2003). “Empirical assessment of a three-dimensional wisdom scale.” Research on Aging, 25(3), pp. 275-324.
Kraut, Richard, “Aristotle’s Ethics”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),
Richard Kraut, Aristotle’s Ethics, plato.stanford.edu. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/aristotle-ethics/ (Accessed: June 26, 2017).
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