The Smart and the Wise

Those who are smart are best at remembering, quickly analyzing and arguing about matters passed. The wise are best at predicting things to come. The smart shed light on the past. The wise light the road forward. The smart have highly developed senses of seeing and hearing; often with underdeveloped senses of smell, taste and touch. In the extreme, they are idiot savants, able to do one thing extraordinarily well and not much else. The wise ones are generalists. They have more equally developed senses which allow them to know things from different perspectives. Having many perspectives is the essence of wisdom. Especially developed is their nose, the forwardmost of our senses. The nose knows when things smell right or not.

It’s easier to determine who is smart than who is wise as intelligence is judged ex-post and wisdom ex-ante.  Society is geared to recognize intelligence more than wisdom and elevates those deemed smart to high positions in society. As such, in the short-run the smartest are more successful than the wisest. In the long-run, however, those who are conventionally smart are less likely to survive as circumstances change; for it’s not survival of the smartest but survival of the wisest. The wisest are best at seeing changes before they are obvious and can either adapt to a changing environment or change their circumstances where they can better adapt.