I read Paul Graham’s essay entitled “Is it worth being wise?” with interest. In a provocative piece he challenges the conventional definitions and interpretations of wisdom and intelligence and invites debate about the apparent divergence between the two concepts.
Whilst it’s interesting, he misses the point that both are required here and now to solve the major problems we face globally. To illustrate how both are necessary and need to work in concert at the individual and collective level the economist, Jeffrey Sachs’ final BBC Reith Lecture of 2007, “Global Politics in a Complex Age” sets forth an ambitious but achievable basis for enacting shared global goals – what he refers to as the Millenium Promises – around climate change, extreme poverty reduction, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, protecting biodiversity and halting desertification, manifest in a series of global agreements.
He calls for the public, governments and all in between to embrace the challenge of focusing on these shared goals and using our scientific and technological know-how to solve the problems we’ve created. With lots of excellent historical quotes and plenty of practical ideas for agency, he calls for individuals, social entrepreneurs, business, expert groups (scientists), and governments to forge a new basis of global cooperation through an open source approach to global problem solving, played out locally. Sachs brought to my mind once again, EF Schumacher’s brilliant, Small is Beautiful. In the follow-up questions, there’s some great contributions from John Curtice, Bernard Crick and Pat Kane. Wisdom and intelligence in concert, indeed.