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3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  230 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
We all recognize wisdom, but defining it is more elusive. In this fascinating journey from philosophy to science, Stephen S. Hall gives us a penetrating history of wisdom, from its sudden emergence in the fifth century B.C. to its modern manifestations in education, politics, and the workplace. Hall’s bracing exploration of the science of wisdom allows us to see this ancie ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 892)
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Eduardo Santiago
Sep 26, 2010 Eduardo Santiago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By any measure spending a glorious fall afternoon in front of a TV is what we should consider unwise, so that's what I did immediately upon finishing this book: I (re)watched Errol Morris's documentary "The Fog of War". It was almost a compulsion... during much of the book I found myself thinking of McNamara. And it worked: they blended well together. And, appropriately, what I got out of both was more questions than answers.

I found "Wisdom" disappointing -- but come on, Who could do justice to
May 04, 2010 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely marvelous book: well researched, well written and something I couldn't stop thinking about as I read it and in the spaces in between. I think I am going back through it to take notes it is so rich with content. It is written a scientific journalist with a marvelous feel for what is important and a tremendous ability to interview and gather relevant wisdom from the leading thinkers in this field.

Basically as its sub-title says it is about Wisdom: Philosophy to Neuroscience. The chap
Apr 10, 2014 Georgia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but I read the later chapters first, simply because I'm interested is in social interaction. I was intrigued by the author's interpretation of how our elder's show wisdom (or lack of it). I loved the discussion on humility and how it pertains to wisdom. My favorite quote in the book is something like "some people lack the humility to know what they don't know." I know a lot of people who lack the humility to know what they don't know.....
Jim Coughenour
Mar 14, 2010 Jim Coughenour rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unreadable
I approached this book with high hopes – after reading Iain McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary, I was ready to dig into Stephen Hall's Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience. Almost immediately I realized I was going to be disappointed. Hall opens with a montage of dropping his daughter off at school, then watching a jet fly into the World Trade Center. "Almost immediately black smoke began to curl out of the cruel, grinning incision its wings had sliced in the façade of the skyscraper." ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Danna added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Attempted to read at the request of a friend and found myself too frustrated with the padding and the subject matter itself I couldn't finish. It's philosophy dressed up for science. Not for me.
Drawing upon history of philosophers and combining the latest neuroscience, this is a book that explores what wisdom means and tries to provide the key elements that make up what we call wisdom. Wisdom is different from mere intelligence. Wisdom is being able to exercise good judgment in face of imperfect knowledge. The book narrows to some EIGHT neural pillars - basis of wisdom. 1/ Emotional management 2/Knowing what is important 3/Moral reasoning 4/Compassion 5/Humility 6/Altruism 7/Patience 8 ...more
Leif Denti
I found it to be very heavy on the neurological explanations/underpinnings for wisdom, which I find to be moderately interesting. Personally I would have liked more philosophy. It's still worth a read.
Jeff Ford
Light on philosophy; heavy on psychology. Not what I was looking for.
Sep 05, 2010 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now that I have wisdom I think I'll start smoking one of those pipes with a head carved into the bowl and walking around with my head cocked up to one side, spewing deep thoughts.

Definitions of wisdom abound in Hall’s exploration of the concept, which he reports is no longer the exclusive domain of theology and philosophy. Clinical psychology and neurobiology have elbowed their way into the subject in recent decades, and their investigations and investigators make up much of Hall’s work
Tariq Mahmood
May 05, 2012 Tariq Mahmood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Excellent book which attempts to bring back Wisdom to the centre of science. For me there is a fundamental problem with science of today, it is too structured and somehow the faculty of wisdom has failed to formalize in this a very finely defined domain. No wonder the world has not seen a modern version of a Socrates or Pluto. or maybe we have already defined everything we ought to know about wisdom and now suffering from exposure to strings of wise clichés? A bit like self help books? The book ...more
Lukas Lovas
Jul 18, 2016 Lukas Lovas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contemplative and full of interesting research and ideas. I enjoyed this thought provoking book a lot. I hope I might one day aspire to become wise….though humility is definitely not one of my defining characteristics despite being presented here as a prerequisite for wisdom :) We'll see :)
Oct 24, 2012 D'face rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like some of the other reviewers, I can see the need for such a book but I don't think this was a particularly good execution. Wisdom is a mystery, we all aspire to it, but it cannot be bought or even learnt. We think it accumulates with age, yet we all know foolish old men and wise youths.

I think the psychology and ethical/religious aspects of this were more interesting than the neuroscience, because frankly who cares what part of the brain is lighting up when one is exercising wisdom as oppose
Tess McCarthy
Mar 07, 2015 Tess McCarthy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far the trick to being wise is regulating our emotions. So far, I like this. Emotional regulation, even though it may come off like emotional distance means something else. I think it means the wisdom to temper anger when it is unjust or irrational; to be sad is to be emotionally regulated--however, wallowing in self-pity isn't the path. I am slowly learning the distinctions. But, I don't think I'm terribly wise--yet?

I read it nightly. I'm trying to draw out all the little stories about the
Feb 10, 2013 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a dense, weighty book. It discusses biology and neurobiology as it relates to decision making and "wisdom", and also gives a historical overview to writings and beliefs about wisdom. It is a MARVELOUS book, but I had to set aside quiet times to read it. It took a lot of concentration and a lot of contemplation to understand and take value from it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is serious about studying the brain, the human condition, and anyone who wants to figure ...more
Jun 18, 2014 Angie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rather disappointing.
Oct 31, 2013 mm rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it's obvious that there aren't may people worthy of writing a book on wisdom, let alone some journalist. That said, this is more like a reference point to start looking deeper into the matter than something that even comes close to an authority. I would have thought science had made more head way on the subject in recent years, rather than relying so heavily on the well established roads paved throughout history by Socrates, Confucius, etc.
Nov 15, 2013 Princessjay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Skimmed. An exploration of what is the nature of wisdom (comprises, perhaps, of emotional regulation, compassion, altruism, patience, and a host of such virtues as well as ability to identify worthwhile goals & pursuits), whether it increases with age (apparently, from studies of the aging brain, no physical evidence that it does), through the ages and history and philosophy.

Definitely worth a read. Recommended.
I like the idea of this book perhaps more than the actual book! Still, it was an engaging study on the lineage of wisdom. I can honestly say I never really thought about it on those simple terms before: Where did wisdom come from? Hall has definitely done his research, and for that reason alone, it's a worthwhile read. Still, it gets a bit muddled along the way, and the net effect is blah blah blah.
May 06, 2011 Jimmy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a difficult book to read for me. I became frustrated somewhat with the author's multiple examples of how difficult wisdom is to define, measure, etc. In all honestly, I only made it through about 3/4 of the book. With that said, I thought that the book didi contain some very interesting information about historical philosophy and current research.
May 24, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
soon i may have my review published in NWS&T...
until then - interesting, sometimes meandering look at several scientific disciplines' take on wisdom. nice blend of humanities and science. clear that hall has done his research
Apr 29, 2010 laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
ok, i don't want to read this book so much as i want to remember that it was published-- goodreads as extendedmind / extramemorystoragespace.
Jun 24, 2010 Ron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good. I've read a lot of this material in other books, but I like the way he organized it.
Mutassem Al Sharji
Awesome attempt to understand and explain and tap into a very difficult concept
Geoff Kirkwood
INteresting concept - a little too much like a research tome for me.
Enrico Gatti
Jan 02, 2011 Enrico Gatti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly interesting, can't ever put it down
E Goldberg
Well 'It's OK' ..
Selena Calingo
Aug 03, 2010 Selena Calingo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found the book!
Fanta Sandra
Fanta Sandra marked it as to-read
Sep 24, 2016
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For nearly three decades, Stephen S. Hall has written about the intersection of science and society in books, magazine articles, and essays. He is the author, most recently, of Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience (2010), which grew out of a 2007 cover article in The New York Times Magazine.

His previous books include Size Matters: How Height Affects the Health, Happiness, and Success of Boys—an
More about Stephen S. Hall...

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