What is wisdom in our times? — To a certain extent the question seems to be obsolete, in a way out of actuality. The sense of exhausted monotonousness, of something principally devoid of human interest accompanies it. Being in its fully-fledged decay in fact posits the question as the most distanced [უშორესად გამანძილებული] for the living creature; in accordance with its partial sensibility one is rather allowed to die by “reason” of self-imposed slavery than to experience the melancholy of joy, this infinite gift for all kinds of wise things of life.
Wisdom is not knowledge; neither these two do exclude each other. Knowledge paves the way towards wisdom, but the same knowledge might become a stone of burden to it. There is an imperceptible line of difference between the two, creating the angle of refraction between a life (with its virtually infinite variations) and the life (with its lived point of incidence). Whilst knowledge strives to explicate the figures of its accomplishment, wisdom loves to implicate the temporality of every accomplishment whatsoever; while the extensive nature of knowledge makes it to be socially indispensable, the intensity of wisdom is a conditio sine qua non for people’s being at all. People left without knowledge is the concentrated form of alienation, the vastness for defeated horizons, whereas people bereft of reserves of wisdom is a fully decayed people – the mechanical image of life in the grips of the nothingness.
But how to understand the question of wisdom with attribution to people? Is not it obvious that the only proper usage of the notion is limited with man’s individual faculty? E.g. Socrates might be named as the wisest man of Athens (although not knowing why, he incessantly ironizes on this, to the extent that his noble ignorance in fact becomes the death mask hanging onto his life), but whenever people is considered wise, one has to be (intellectually) indifferent enough to know that explanatory foundation for such consideration momentarily disappears together with its pronouncement. There are no wise people but every people have its implicated reserve of wisdom. The mentioned reserve is never the sociological fact of reality, it is not computed via quantitative modes of measurement, neither is it manifested through qualitative determinations. Decisiveness to reach out to its original sources leads to the embodiment of monstrous phantasms, its principal negation equates with the ultimate animalization of human being, with the end of history in actu. It is the nature of wisdom (at least in its sociality) to be given alone as virtually real; never to be actualized with the splendor of appearance; its only truthful responsiveness lies in the permanency of discordance affirmed by the power of question; the question which never turns its own impossibilities into the negative results. 
The question is the hypostasis of wisdom. It is a philosophy which summons them up. Philosophy loves wisdom (following to its minimal etymology) and the thoughtful question is an immediate approval of this love. But as it is known from times afar, to love a thing is to keep it without why, while to question a thing is to embrace it within the circle of why. In essence, it is in the midst of this equivocation that the question on the peopleness of wisdom shapes the mind; philosophy not only undoes the knot of mentioned equivocation but constitutes from it the value of responsibility against all odds of time.
The reality of people’s wisdom speaks the language of responsibility. What the ability of response gathers in itself is the open sphere of questions against the banalities of one’s own time. It is for this disposition that there is a direct relation between people’s reserves of wisdom and its philosophicality. Philosophy’s principal ability to respond to the banalities of time expounds its political nature. Inasmuch as philosophy debanalizes, it approves its Socratic responsibility and therefore its profound politicality.
It is with our age that philosophy herself becomes the object of banalization. The planetary axiomatics of commodity transforms its ecstatic signs into the elements of systematic conformism; philosophy loses its Socratic pathos for examining the negatively ordered questions of whatever time and is continuously reduced to the dogmatisms reproduced by the established powers.
Gilles Deleuze, a philosopher who with the vital sense for the involuntarity of (non)-Being envisaged the coming image of philosophy, in his Nietzsche and Philosophy asks rhetorically:
“Is there any discipline apart from philosophy that sets out to criticize
all mystifications, whatever their source and aim,
to expose all the fictions without
which reactive forces
would not prevail?”
Self-evidence of this question is dissolving in front of our eyes. The tyranny of planetary commodity with its machines of banalization turns philosophy into commercially automated responsiveness; the space of question through which philosophy once befriended wisdom (and did it with heralding dedication), is appropriated by valorized signs of thoughtlessness, by sanctioned imitations of commodity interest; nobody knows what it means to be the philosopher today.
- It was Hanna Arendt’s essentially political understanding to emphasize that the greatest danger awaiting Socratic and any thinking at all is transforming the non-results of thinking (of questions) into negative results. While discussing the personalities of Alcibiades and Critias she writes: “Not content with being taught how to think without being taught a doctrine, they changed the non-results of the Socratic thinking examination into negative results: If we cannot define what piety is, let us be impious – which is pretty much the opposite of what Socrates had hoped to achieve by talking about piety.” See Hanna Arendt, The Life of the Mind (San Diego: A Harvest Book, 1978), 175-176.
- Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (London/New York: Continuum, 2002), 106.
Picture: “Job” by William Blake (source).