Knowledge and Wisdom Exercise
Knowledge and Wisdom by Bertrand Russell Exercise: Questions & Answers Class 12 English

 Understanding the text 

Answer the following questions.

a. What are the factors that contribute to wisdom?

The factors that contribute to wisdom are:

  1. Comprehensiveness
  2. A sense of proportion
  3. Emancipation
  4. Impartiality
  5. Awareness of human needs and understanding.

b. What message does the writer try to convey with the example of technicians?

➜ With the example of technicians, the writer tries to convey a message about harm. He believes that if technical knowledge is implemented without wisdom, it can be destructive to humanity. For example, technologists may be pleased that the world’s infant mortality rate has been reduced, but this leads to a lack of food supply and a lower level of living. Similarly, knowledge of atomic theory can be used to create atomic bombs that will destroy the human species.

c. Which leaders does Russell say were able to mix knowledge and wisdom soundly?

Russell says the leaders such as  Queen Elizabeth I of England, Henry IV of France, and Abraham Lincoln were able to successfully mix knowledge and wisdom. Both Queen Elizabeth I and Henry IV remained clear of their time’s faults, and by doing so, they were both benevolent and surely not unsuccessful. Similarly, Abraham Lincoln led a tremendous battle while never deviating from the path of wisdom.

d. Why is wisdom needed not only in public ways, but in private life equally?

Wisdom is not only needed in public ways but it is equally needed in private life too. In deciding what goals to follow and overcoming personal prejudice, wisdom is needed. We may fail to choose our life’s goal and achieve success as a result of our lack of wisdom.

e. What, according to Russell, is the true aim of education?

➜ According to Russell, the true aim of education is to establish wisdom in people. Wisdom is what allows us to put our knowledge to good use in the real world without causing harm to others. To be good citizens, people must have both knowledge and wisdom.

f. Can wisdom be taught? If so, how?

Yes, Wisdom can be taught. Wisdom teaching should include a greater intellectual component than moral teaching. In the course of imparting knowledge, the devastating consequences of hatred and narrow-mindedness to people who feel them can be mentioned incidentally. For example, while explaining the composition of an atom, the devastating consequences of its misuse, such as the creation of atomic weapons, must also be taught.

g. Why does the world need more wisdom in the future?

The world needs more wisdom in the future. When we look at the current state of knowledge in various fields, it is clear that knowledge will continue to develop in the future. Most individuals misuse knowledge in the absence of wisdom, resulting in a variety of bad consequences, and this fact will continue in the future if knowledge is not blended with wisdom. Only wisdom enables people to make wise use of their acquired knowledge. More wisdom is required for a brighter future.

 Reference to the Context 

a. According to Russel, “The pursuit of knowledge may become harmful unless it is combined with wisdom.” Justify this statement.

➜ According to Russel, “The pursuit of knowledge may become harmful unless it is combined with wisdom.” Bertrand Russell’s essay “Knowledge and Wisdom” discusses the importance of integrating knowledge and wisdom. He discusses the numerous paths to wisdom and how knowledge without wisdom can be dangerous.

Russell emphasizes the value of comprehensiveness while also stating that comprehensiveness does not equal wisdom. Hegel’s philosophy was extensive, yet it lacked knowledge and was prejudiced. Hegel wrote with excellent historical knowledge, but he misled the Germans that they were the most powerful race in the world, leading to war. As a result, knowledge and sentiments must be combined. Men with knowledge but no emotions are lacking in wisdom. Wisdom is required in both public and private life.

b. What, according to Russell, is the essence of wisdom? And how can one acquire the very essence?

➜ Russell emphasizes that the essence of wisdom is to free oneself from the confines of the physical and emotional worlds and to gaze beyond them. He believes that pursuing certain goals that are impossible to reach is a bad idea. He also points out that being free of personal prejudice makes one’s thoughts and feelings less personal, which leads to knowledge.

Knowledge does not automatically lead to wisdom. Wisdom, according to Russell, is the practical application and use of knowledge to generate value. Learning and actual experience, rather than memory, can be used by one to acquire the very essence of wisdom.

 Reference beyond the text 

a. Why is wisdom necessary in education? Discuss.

➜ Wisdom is what makes our minds open and unbiased. Our thoughts and feelings grow less personal as we gain wisdom. It encourages us to make appropriate use of our knowledge. It enables us to put our knowledge to good use for humanity. We love even our enemies when we have wisdom, we have no ego, and we don’t have any prejudices. Wisdom is an element of human life that complements education/knowledge. If one balances these two aspects correctly, he or she becomes a perfect being. 

Education’s objective is to not only convey knowledge but also to produce excellent citizens. People who lack wisdom may misuse their gained information, and wisdom does not come naturally; it must be taught. Developing wisdom in students has to be one of the educational goals, and it has to be taught in schools. With practical examples, it must be planted and nurtured in one’s mind.

b. How can you become wise? Do you think what you are doing in college contributes to wisdom?

➜ Wisdom is a difficult concept to define, but we all recognize it when we see it. In a crisis, intelligent people maintain their calm. They are aware of their own limitations, explore alternate viewpoints, and keep in mind that the world is constantly changing.

It takes a long time to become wiser. Patience and discipline are essential for growing in wisdom. Higher life satisfaction, fewer negative feelings, better relationships, and less depressive thinking are all connected with wise reasoning. A wise man is prone to making mistakes. You learn from your own mistakes. It’s important to realize that the more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn and develop. Keeping a positive attitude is also a step toward being wiser. Whatever occurs in your life, be joyful, belief in yourself, and overcome difficulties peacefully. A wise man is unafraid of any circumstance. He or she solves the situation calmly. These, I believe, are the definite paths to wisdom.