Is philosophy the love of wisdom? Or is it, as some philosophers have suggested, the wisdom of love? And what do love and wisdom have to do with each other anyway?
The Love of Wisdom, and the Wisdom of Love
Welcome to the final class in our series on love. In this class, we're going to be looking at the idea of philosophy as the love of wisdom. And we're going to ask about whether there is a deeper connection between wisdom and love.
The first person to talk about philosophy as the love of wisdom was the Greek philosopher Pythagoras. The idea that philosophy is the love of wisdom—rather than, for example, the practice of wisdom—puts a bit of a distance between us and the wisdom that we aspire to. We can love wisdom without being entirely wise, just as we can love virtue without being entirely virtuous, or we can love beauty without being entirely beautiful.
But the idea of philosophy as the love of wisdom is also a dynamic one. We are impelled towards that thing that we love. It draws us in, fascinates us, intrigues us. And we want more of it in our lives.
There are two ways of thinking about what it means to talk about the love of wisdom. First, we can see wisdom as an object of love. There are lots of things that we might love: a person, a cat, samosas, mimosas… These things may be more or less worthy of love, but they are all objects towards which our love and our interest are directed. If we understand the love of wisdom like this, then wisdom is simply the object of our fascination, or even our infatuation.