New Civilization News: The Isdom of Wisdom    
 The Isdom of Wisdom8 comments
picture 20 Jul 2004 @ 14:55, by Flemming Funch

Anthony Judge mentioned his article The Isdom of the Wisdom Society. Anthony is one of the smartest people I know of, and his enormous site and his articles are somewhat intimidating to approach. Certainly clear enough to read, but he covers so much ground that it takes your breath away a bit.

This piece was for the UN World Summit on the Information Society, and is exploring information and knowledge and wisdom, and then points to what's maybe at the core - what IS and how to BE with it.
Many studies explore the importance of the distinctions in the sequence from "data", through "information", then on to "knowledge", and finally to "wisdom" [more]. At each stage there is a much-studied challenge of "management" (as in "information management" and "knowledge management"). Arguments are also made for the importance of a corresponding "information society" or of a "knowledge society" -- perhaps expressed as a "knowledge-based society". But clearly it is easiest to argue the case for an "information" focus, especially to hardware, software and information vendors -- hence the title of the UN World Summit on the Information Society. It is more challenging to make a case for a "knowledge society", especially since "knowledge management" is in process of being disparaged as a fad term lacking any real content -- notably in those corporate environments that claim to practice it. And yet it is precisely the transfer of knowledge, in the form of "know-how" that has been a preoccupation of the United Nations over many development decades.
But knowledge is a troublesome thing to get a handle on. If I know one thing, and you know another, and a lot of knowledge is hidden in the library or on the net - what do we really know? Is it knowledge if we put it all in the same database? We so easily end up scattering both our information and our knowledge about, and apart from ourselves. Maybe splitting something apart that really isn't apart. Like ourselves.

What we usually really need is the wisdom. To somehow transcend keeping track of the information and the knowledge, and somehow have the instinct for making good decisions, even in difficult circumstances.
The distinctions between data, information and knowledge are increasingly problematic as is to be seen in efforts to give content to "knowledge management". It is perhaps helpful to see the sequence as a progression from more objective to more subjective -- namely an increasing dependence on judgement, cognitive ability, experience and the capacity for synthesis (see Evaluating Synthesis Initiatives and their Sustaining Dialogues, 2000). Whilst software can be provided to manage information, those packages designed in support of "knowledge management" are far more dependent on the knowledgability of the user. Similarly, whilst data and information can be readily explained, this becomes more of a challenge in the case of knowledge. This is exemplified in the case of appropriately ordered information on a food recipe. Although the recipe may be followed, it is only in the light of the knowledge acquired through past learning and experience that there is any guarantee that the result will be tasty.
OK, we need to understand wisdom better. Wisdom involves subjectivity, and it isn't easy to just break it down and explain it. It can't easily be transferred.

Wisdom seems more intimately bound to space-time than information and knowledge. But in a way that makes it sort of timeless. It has more to do with the quality of how you know and how you go about things than with the actual content. It involves a quality of discernment largely absent from conventional knowing. So, maybe that all leads us towards the mysterious quality of being present, of the "Now", of what IS, and how we act in it.
Paradoxically, as one might expect with respect to a "timeless" quality, its uniqueness derives from a way of "being in the present". This focus on the present is echoed in many sources of wisdom -- as the key to appropriate action in the more extended framework of space and time. Its proximity is for example stressed in various religions. Judaism and Islam recognize that the separation between Heaven and Hell is but a "hair's breadth" -- echoed by Zen in the acknowledgement that the separation between enlightenment and ignorance is again just one "hair's breadth".

It is for this reason that -- playfully -- it is suggested here that the domain of wisdom might usefully be recognized as "Isdom". This might be seen as corresponding to terms such as "Kingdom", "Dukedom" or "Fiefdom" -- except that the focus is on the domain of "is-ness" in the present.
Well, that's very refreshing. The Zen of the moment. Again, hard to take apart, by its very nature, but it can be hinted at, maybe a bit poetically.
As the domain of the present moment -- the present instant -- Isdom is a place of being characterized by a quality of appreciating that moment, and sustaining that appreciation. It might be understood as the mode of expression and interaction in the instants before conventional exchanges occur. As such it resembles a kind of existential foreplay -- in part made of glances and understandings that are global in their quality -- an interplay of being. For example, one international event focused on The Butterfly Effect as the "coordinates of the moment before discovery". It is the sparkle on a pool -- or in a person's eyes (or those of any other animal).

The moment may be imbued with a sense of incipient knowing or of intuitive re-membering -- of re-cognition. It may be understood through the anticipatory quality of "happening" -- a sense of in potentia -- as when encountering a significant other (perhaps for the first time). It is, for example, the instant before any process of falling in love -- "at first sight" -- namely before intentionality or action of any conventional kind.
Well, I'm not going to go on and quote the whole thing, but Anthony goes on to explore how we might possibly "contain" the is-ness. It so easily gets spoiled and reverted into banal normalcy. So hard to hold on to. It is like the plasma needed to create nuclear fusion. The hardest part is to keep it together without it being messed up by the stuff that isn't it. How can the present be reified - made more real? How can we recognize and tap into FLOW? We might have to look for answers in quite different places than what we normally use to take things apart and analyze them. Indeed the addictive "normality" of our habitual world is exactly what keeps us from understanding the zen of the present moment, from tapping directly into the consciousness of wisdom and becoming more fully alive. The things we need to *get* easily border on craziness when seen through the eyes of our collective normalcy. The things we can neatly describe and categorize are not it. From the Tao Te Ching:
The Tao that can be described is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be spoken is not the eternal Name.
The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of creation.
To really BE in the present moment, and to be in touch with our inherent wisdom, we need to get beyond most of what we can think of putting a name to. Yet, the world is made of the stuff that is observed and named. Ah, delightful paradoxes.


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8 comments

20 Jul 2004 @ 17:18 by maxtobin : In-Deed
Thanks for this link Flemming. Wisdom and Isdom.
Pass the para-shoot for me to deal with these infernal para-doxes (reminds me of that entry about Foxes) A healthy media, and open sources of information maybe some Ideas trackers too?  



21 Jul 2004 @ 01:17 by celestial : Ming

Sure love the way you knit your words into links to flow with thought. You have mastered something truly amazing.

"...God gives men wisdom as he gives them gold; his treasure house is not the mint, but the mine.
A wise man's day is worth a fools life." - Arabic

"The first point of wisdom is to discern that which is false; the second, to know that which is true." - Lactantius  



26 Sep 2006 @ 21:28 by Gael Bage @86.135.9.202 : isdom and cognition at distance
A thought may be what is now (isdom), knowledge suddenly pops into the mind, at first I was sceptical and dismissed these. Then I learned to take notice and listen.
My son fell off a slide onto concrete.
The dog jumped off a groyne on the beach and panicked in deep water.
A patient had a heart attack.
A patient accidentally started a fire with a paraffin heater.
Another patient accidentally switched on a gas light and was gassing herself in front of a lit gas fire.
In each case I was at some distance from the occurrence, when aware of a problem and had an urge to go to each person in the case of the patients I responded on days other than normal appointments and I was able to assist each person.
The dog was on Bexhill beach with my partner and he had to wade in to rescue him, I knew the dog was in trouble in the sea as I drove home from Hastings, and remember saying to myself, don't be daft...dogs can swim!  



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