What does a Wise Man have?

We had a discussion a few hours back around the supper table – what makes a man wise? None of us were equipped with a dictionary at the moment, and nobody bothered to search on Google on the definition of a wise man. Nonetheless, the rawness of the discussion set me thinking even long after we were distracted by the food that came a few minutes after.

My brother argued that a wise man was one who was thoughtful.

I, on the other hand, thought that a thoughtful man was not necessarily a wise man. Instead, a wise man was one who definitely has had experience.

My thinking stemmed through this quote which I lived by daily:

Experience is the mother of knowledge

I wanted to argue that a thoughtful man may not be wise. Instead, he could succumb to the trickery that people would play towards him. For example, a person who disguised as being poor may beg for money along the streets to buy food. A thoughtful person would just give the money because not everyone could afford proper meals. A wise person would instead buy him a meal after he analyses the situation at hand. What if he noticed that the man smelled of smoke? Who knew if the “poor” person utilised the money for something else like beer or cigarettes?

With experience, I may add, the person can distinguish another who really is in need. Actions triggered based on emotions blind the rationality in a person.

But I have to say: wisdom only comes with the aftermath of gaining experience. Many questions are to be asked.

What does one do with it (experience)? Do they reflect on it?

Everyone cannot deny that without experience, wisdom is difficult to attain. Meanwhile, thoughtfulness (without experience) comes with many dangers such as prejudice. We are never always exposed to all kinds of situations without experience, and that often brings us to a level of a lesser maturity/naivety. Thoughtfulness can bring immaturity, at the expense of the individual’s state of well-being.

Imagine giving beyond one’s means: defeats the purpose of giving at all. To create a self-sustaining system of humanity, rationality and decision-making builds on experience itself.

Being thoughtful is not enough to define a wise person. To become a person with wisdom, experience is needed. Even so, what Man does with those experiences will then create the wisdom he desires.


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