Ethics and wisdom in the book of proverbs.
Socratic ethics is a useful heuristic A method of problem solving using exploration and trial and error methods. Heuristic program design provides a framework for solving the problem in contrast with a fixed set of rules (algorithmic) that cannot vary.
1. model for understanding the ethical presuppositions behind the variegated advice and observations in the book of Proverbs. The ethics of both rest on three principles: (1) virtue is knowledge; (2) no one does wrong willingly; and (3) all virtues are one. Socrates states these principles; Proverbs assumes them. Underlying these principles is the primary axiom of sapiential Sa`pi`en´tial
a. 1. Having or affording wisdom.
The sapiential books of the Old [Testament].
- Jer. Taylor.
Adj. 1. ethics, namely that the exercise of the human mind is the necessary and sufficient condition of right and successful behavior.
1. THE PRIMARY AXIOM
Though the book of Proverbs evolved in a complex process of authorship and editing, the result was a document with a considerable degree of cohesion. It shows consistency in style and thought, and its components are in harmony. This is because the book grew organically, with later authors and editors aware of and responding to the earlier ones and unfolding the potentials they saw in the texts of their predecessors. This unity allows us to discuss various topics in the book as a whole. The ethical ideas to be described in this essay are the contribution mainly of chapters 1-9, which postdate To designate a written instrument, such as a check, with a time or date later than that at which it is really made. the older collections, in chapters 10-29, but they are latent in the latter. In the book's present form, its major components work together to convey meanings perhaps not envisioned or sensed clearly by the early authors.
The feature that distinguishes the book of Proverbs from non-Israelite Wisdom is its concern for wisdom as such. Foreign Wisdom offers wise teachings but says little about wisdom. Egyptian Instructions speak about wisdom from time to time, but usually with reference to the ancient teachings. Mesopotamian Wisdom rarely mentions it. The book of Ahiqar, Syrian in origin, gives it more attention but does not make wisdom its focus. (1) Proverbs, however, dwells on wisdom constantly. This focus is closely bound to its ethics.
The following features, central to the construction of Proverbs' ideas of wisdom and ethics, are rare or entirely absent in foreign Wisdom Literature and elsewhere in the Bible, outside of texts of clear sapiential character (Job, Qohelet, Pss 37 and 111):
(1) The identification of wisdom with righteousness.
(2) The direct praise of wisdom.
(3) The identification of wisdom with piety.
(4) The demand to love and seek wisdom (2)
The primary axiom of Proverbs' ethics is that the exercise of the human mind is the necessary and sufficient condition of right and successful behavior in all reaches of life: practical, ethical, and religious. This is the central axiom of Socratic ethics as well.
2. THE ETHICS OF PROVERBS AND THE SOCRATIC PRINCIPLES (3)
Throughout my study of Proverbs, I have been impressed by the Socratic quality of its epistemology epistemology (ĭpĭs'təmŏl`əjē) [Gr.,=knowledge or science], the branch of philosophy that is directed toward theories of the sources, nature, and limits of knowledge. Since the 17th cent. and ethics. The affinity between Proverbs and Socrates is not due to influence but to the fact that the sages of Proverbs and Socrates were thinking in similar ways about the same issues. Both seek to answer the question (as phrased by Qoheleth): "What is good for man to do under the heavens?" (Qoh 2:3). (4) Both Socrates and the sages had a practical goal: to teach young men how to lead the good and fortunate life. Their methods in achieving this goal were radically different.
Socratic ethics rests on three great principles. The first two are called the "ethical paradoxes." They are paradoxical not because they are irrational or self-contradictory, but because they run contrary to doxa, the common opinion. The third principle also, it seems to me, is a paradox in this sense, though it is not usually enumerated among the standard ones. The three principles are (1) virtue is knowledge; (2) no one does wrong willingly; and (3) all virtues are one.
2.1 Principle 1: Virtue is Knowledge
Socrates teaches that knowledge of the good is both a necessary and a sufficient condition to being good and doing the good (see especially Apology 30b, 41d5; Protagoras 352c-355d). He calls "virtue" (arete a·rête
A sharp, narrow mountain ridge or spur.
[French, from Old French areste, fishbone, spine, from Late Latin arista, awn, fishbone, from Latin, awn. ) both "knowledge" (episteme) (Meno 87d) and "wisdom" (sophia) (Meno 88d). (6) Aristotle formulated Socrates' ethics thus: "All virtues are forms of knowledge, so that knowing justice and being just must go together" (Eudemian Ethics The Eudemian Ethics (sometimes abbreviated EE in scholarly works) is a work of philosophy by Aristotle. Its primary focus is on Ethics. It is named for Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who may also have had a hand in editing the final work. 1216b; cf. Nicomachean Ethics Nicomachean Ethics (sometimes spelled 'Nichomachean'), or Ta Ethika, is a work by Aristotle on virtue and moral character which plays a prominent role in defining Aristotelian ethics. 1144b). I will refer to this principle, even when speaking about Proverbs, as the "Socratic equation," because it was Socrates who formulated it and made it central in ethical thought. This principle also entails the converse, that vice is ignorance.
To probe the nature of ethical knowledge, Socrates uses the analogy of professional skills. Just as a man must attain the knowledge of a craft in order to practice it successfully, so must he know the good in order to do it. To be sure, in the case of professional skills, carpentry for example, one might have knowledge but choose not to apply it. But moral knowledge is different. As knowledge of the good, moral knowledge is the understanding of what constitutes happiness, eudaimonia, which is the universally-desired end. And to know the good is to desire it (Protagoras 352d).
Desire, Socrates believes, is directly consequent on a calculation of benefits. Socrates assumes a "strict correspondence between intensity of desire and the rational assessment of consequences." (7) The identification of knowledge with virtue thus effectively intellectualizes desire. (8)
But knowing what is really good is no simple matter. The magnitudes of long-term goods, like the size of objects seen from afar, are not evident to all. Therefore correct moral decisions require a metretike techne, a "metric art," which can overcome the distortions of perspective:
If then our well-being depended upon this, doing and choosing large things, avoiding and not doing the small ones, what would we see as our salvation in life? Would it be the art of measurement or the power of appearance? While the power of appearance often makes us wander all over the place in confusion, often changing our minds about the same things and regretting our actions and choices with respect to things large and small, the art of measurement, in contrast, would make the appearances lose their power by showing us the truth, would give us peace of mind firmly rooted in the truth and soul and would save our life. (Protagoras 356de)
Philosophy, as Socrates describes it, is a techne, a skill or art. In fact, sophia, the term Socrates uses to designate moral wisdom, was earlier used also for expertise in the crafts. (9)
In Proverbs, the Socratic equation is a deep but unarticulated un·ar·tic·u·lat·ed
a. Not articulated: our unarticulated fears.
b. Not carefully or thoroughly thought out.
2. Biology Not having joints or segments. premise. Though not formulated theoretically, it comes to expression in several ways: Mixing of sayings on wisdom and sayings on righteousness. Like sophia, hokmah basically refers to skill or expertise. (10) In Proverbs the domain of the expertise is the art of living right, with regard to both moral behavior and practical matters.
In the old collections (Parts 2-5; chapters 10-29), sayings on wisdom--a pragmatic faculty--are interspersed with ones on moral virtue (both designated by various names). (11) This is an editorial choice, for the editors could have kept the themes distinct. Within individual sayings, the concept of wisdom is rarely implicated in matters of moral virtue. At the earliest stage, in the old collections in Prov 10-29, the Socratic equation does not apply to individual sayings on wisdom taken in themselves. The Socratic equation was introduced into Proverbs in the process of editing. The editors thoroughly interspersed the sayings on wisdom with ones on righteousness. The reader of Proverbs naturally assumes that all the qualities and behaviors ascribed to the righteous are wise, and that the deeds of the wise, when moral factors are at play, are all righteous and honest.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. William McKane, the sayings about righteousness and piety in these chapters are postexilic post·ex·il·ic also post·ex·il·i·an
Of or relating to the period of Jewish history following the Babylonian captivity (after 586 b.c.).
Adj. 1. additions intended to reinterpret re·in·ter·pret
tr.v. re·in·ter·pret·ed, re·in·ter·pret·ing, re·in·ter·prets
To interpret again or anew.
re the old, pragmatic wisdom and bring the book closer to "Yahwistic piety." (12) While I do not think it can be shown that such sayings were written or collected later than the others, their presence does have the effect ascribed to them: extending the ideal of the wise man to embrace the virtues of righteousness and fear of God.
Conflation (database) conflation - Combining or blending of two or more versions of a text; confusion or mixing up. Conflation algorithms are used in databases. of wisdom and righteousness. In the Lectures and Interludes of chapters 1-9, wisdom and moral virtue are bound as cause and effect. (13) The Exordia of the Lectures insist that hearkening to wisdom guarantees that one will walk the path of righteousness. For example, according to Lecture 9, the father's teaching will stay with you "to guard you from another man's wife, from the smooth talk of the alien" (Prov 6:24). Learning wisdom (in the form of the father's words) will bring favor, security, and the prime religious virtue of trust in God (Prov 3:26a).
The conflation of wisdom and moral virtue is explicit in Lecture 2. Seeking wisdom (Prov 2:1-4) will bring one to fear of Yahweh and knowledge of Yahweh (2:5), because it is he who gives wisdom (2:6). He stores up resourcefulness for the righteous (2:7) so that they may keep the ways of justice (2:8). Once wisdom has entered your heart (2:10a) and (synonymously) knowledge has become delightful to your soul (2:10b), then "you'll perceive righteousness, justice, and equity--every good course" (2:9). Then wisdom (including "shrewdness" and "good sense") will toughen your resistance to evil temptations (2:11-12, 16). The causal link is clear and constant: wisdom (taught by the father and gained with God's help) leads to and guarantees righteousness.
The Prologue (Prov 1:1-7) explains how to read the book that lies ahead.
The book is for use:
(2) in learning wisdom and discipline, in understanding words of understanding,
(3) in absorbing the discipline of insight: righteousness, justice, and rectitude.
The goals of learning wisdom and gaining righteousness are inseparable.
The order of these achievements may be sequential, with the capacities in verses 2-3a providing the foundation of the virtues in verse 3b. The triad of "righteousness, justice, and rectitude" is defined appositionally as "the discipline of insight" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a set of codes used to represent letters, numbers, a few symbols, and control characters. Originally designed for teletype operations, it has found wide application in computers. ]). Similarly, in 4:11 the teaching is called both "wisdom's way" and "routes of rectitude."
Though Proverbs constantly demands that the reader become wise, it never calls on him to be or become righteous. It only details what the righteous do and describes what righteousness is. It seems that one does not aim for righteousness directly but rather seeks wisdom, which can then be applied in emulating the righteous and choosing the righteous path. Wisdom means knowing the good, and this is tantamount to doing it.
Praise of wisdom. The book of Proverbs is a paean Paean (pē`ən), Paean was an epithet for Apollo, the healer. The paean, a hymn of praise to Apollo and often to other gods, was sung as a prayer for safety or deliverance at battles and other important occasions. to wisdom. Praise of wisdom is almost unique to Proverbs and its heirs. (14) Wisdom and its benefits are extolled in numerous proverbs, such as "Discretion [or: perceptiveness] is a fount of life for its possessor" (Prov 16:22a) and "The wisdom of the clever man guides his way" (Prov 14:8a). In the Ten Lectures, the Exordia typically laud wisdom's benefits. Interlude B (Prov 3:13-20) eulogizes wisdom at length, as does Lady Wisdom herself in Interlude D (Prov 8:1-36). Other proverbs simply promise benefits for wisdom; for example, Prov 19:8: "He who acquires a mind loves himself, and he who keeps good sense will surely find good fortune." Such praise is an attempt to guide people in the "art of metrics," to inform them that their true profit lies in the engagement of the mind.
Wisdom as piety. The book of Proverbs in its present form makes wisdom a prime religious virtue. Wisdom is founded on the fear of Yahweh, an attitude compounded of knowledge, love, humility, and appropriate trepidation--in brief, piety. (15) The Prologue culminates in the principle, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov 1:7a). This is not a necessary or even predictable assertion. By the presuppositions usual in the Bible, one might be clever and erudite er·u·dite
Characterized by erudition; learned. See Synonyms at learned.
[Middle English erudit, from Latin yet lack fear of God and other religious attitudes (see, e.g., Jer 8:9; 9:22; 18:18; Isa 47:10; Job 5:13). Conversely, a humble, simple person, even one devoid of cleverness, might fear God and trust him wholeheartedly whole·heart·ed
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.
whole . (16) Only Proverbs insists on the mutual implication of wisdom and piety. Prov 1:7 does not say that "fear of the Lord" suffices, but rather that it is the first step to wisdom.
The fear of God is not itself the Socratic art of metrics--that is wisdom. Rather, it is the attitude that motivates the acquisition of this art. Even before a child learns how to gauge what is truly best, if he fears God, this mind-set will prompt him to consider the consequences of his actions beyond the immediate gratifications.
Wisdom as obligation. The sages of Proverbs require the reader to seek and acquire wisdom. This demand is a direct reflection of the great ethical-religious weight they assign to wisdom. Several proverbs exhort the reader to get or receive wisdom (Prov 4:5, 7; 8:5-10, 33; 18:15; 23:23), to understand or know it (Prov 8:5; 24:14), to call to it (Prov 2:3), and to seek it (Prov 2:4; 18:15b). The demand to seek wisdom is a religious as well as prudential demand, because wisdom engenders fear of God (Prov 2:5).
The obligation to get wisdom is an imperative not only of fear but also of love (Prov 12:1; 29:3). One should love wisdom as a sister (Prov 7:4--possibly alluding to a lover) or matron (Prov 8:17). Wisdom and mankind are drawn together by a sort of eros. (17) Put figuratively, people are obliged to answer the summons of Lady Wisdom (Prov 1:20-33; 9:4-5; cf. 7:4).
Wisdom and desire. Wisdom, especially in chapters 1-9 has strong affective component, namely the desire to do the right thing; (18) hence: "Doing justice is a pleasure to a righteous man" (Prov 21:15a). The virtuous man not only does what is right, he delights in it and desires it: "The righteous desire what is good" (Prov 11:23a). The idea that wisdom is moral character, the configuration of soul that makes one naturally want to know and do what is right, is developed in the Lectures. (19) This idea is encapsulated in Prov 2:10: When you gain wisdom, you will know the right (2:9), "for wisdom will have entered your heart, knowledge become delightful to your soul."
The "better than" sayings of Proverbs are precise examples of instruction in the "art of metrics" that is required for the attainment of wisdom. "Good" ("better") in these sayings means "beneficial." A saying like Prov 15:16, "Better a little [A] with the fear of the Lord [B], than a great storehouse [A'] with turmoil in it [B']," is molded on the template A + B > A' + B' and teaches how to calculate relative values.
2.2. Principle 2: No One Does Wrong Willingly
The most disputed of Socrates' paradoxes is the assertion that no one does wrong willingly, that is, chooses to do something while knowing that it is wrong (Meno 77cd). The premises of this principle are that (a) willingness requires full knowledge of the consequences of a deed (as well as the freedom to choose it); (b) wrong action is always harmful to the agent; and (c) no one desires his own harm. Therefore no one willingly does what he knows to be wrong. Socrates asks Protagoras:
[O]r does it seem to you that knowledge is a fine thing capable of ruling a person, and if someone were to know what is good and bad, then he would not be forced by anything to act otherwise than knowledge dictates, and intelligence would be sufficient to save a person? (Protagoras 352b)
The affirmative is Socrates' own view. A person who does evil must lack the art of metrics and be unable to weigh the apparent magnitude apparent magnitude: see magnitude. of an immediate pleasure against the far greater pain that awaits him who seizes pleasure wrongfully or foolishly. He does the wrong because he imagines that it is good.
Proverbs does not state this principle, but it is implicit in Adj. 1. implicit in - in the nature of something though not readily apparent; "shortcomings inherent in our approach"; "an underlying meaning"
underlying, inherent its assumption that folly is tantamount to sin--not just that sin is foolish, but that folly causes sin. Three kinds of ignorance are conducive to sin:
Naivete na·ive·té or na·ïve·té
1. The state or quality of being inexperienced or unsophisticated, especially in being artless, credulous, or uncritical.
2. An artless, credulous, or uncritical statement or act. . The [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], or naif, is easily seduced into different kinds of temptations because he does not assess consequences. The naif who accepts the invitation to Folly's banquet heeds only the immediate gratification, ignoring the deadly price he will pay farther down the road (Prov 9:18). Until he gains wisdom, he is vulnerable to all temptation.
The type of wisdom the peti particularly lacks is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'cunning' or 'shrewdness', which includes alertness to dangers and traps. The Prologue promises that the book will provide this (Prov 1:4). Chastisement, which communicates wisdom, can help the peti gain cunning (Prov 15:5), as can observing the punishment of others (Prov 19:25a). But the peti is not merely unaware of dangers; he is drawn to them. He loves his callowness cal·low
Lacking adult maturity or experience; immature: a callow young man.
[Middle English calwe, bald, from Old English calu. (Prov 1:22a). Wisdom pedagogy, with its constant promises, warnings, and chastisements, is intended to change this predilection and push him toward wisdom.
The notion that naivete or simplicity is akin to virtue is foreign to Proverbs. Though the cause of simplicity may merely be immaturity, until the peti changes, he can be grouped with cynics ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and dolts ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (Prov 1:22), because his ignorance unmended will lead to folly of the worst sort: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], perverse folly (Prov 14:18). Nothing will protect him--contrary to a psalmist's belief that "the Lord protects the simple [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]]" (Ps 116:6). But once the peti knows the good--really knows it--he is no longer "simple" and he will choose the right path. No further barriers to virtue are envisioned.
Obtuseness. The [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the "dolt" or "stupid" person, being smug and indifferent about knowledge, is one step away from sin, if not already there. This is also true of the brutish brut·ish
1. Of or characteristic of a brute.
2. Crude in feeling or manner.
3. Sensual; carnal.
4. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and the mindless [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (lit., 'lacking of heart'). Such fools go astray not so much out of malign desires as from a refusal to engage their minds and judge consequences. Fools enjoy folly, for "Folly is pleasure to the mindless" (Prov 15:21a). From Prov 13:19--"A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul. What dolts loathe is turning away from evil"--we are to conclude that dolts desire evil; that is to say, the objects of their desire are bad--morally evil and injurious in·ju·ri·ous
1. Causing or tending to cause injury; harmful: eating habits that are injurious to one's health.
2. to themselves. In Prov 6:32--"An adulterer lacks sense; a self-destroyer--he's the one who does this [that is, commits adultery]"--the author does not blame sin on lust (which, after all, can be gratified grat·i·fy
tr.v. grat·i·fied, grat·i·fy·ing, grat·i·fies
1. To please or satisfy: His achievement gratified his father. See Synonyms at please.
2. wisely; see Prov 5:15-20) but rather on ignorance, the lack of "sense" or "mind."
The fool is given to immoderation im·mod·er·ate
Exceeding normal or appropriate bounds; extreme: immoderate spending; immoderate laughter. See Synonyms at excessive. . While not in itself a sin, it is impelled by ignorance and pushes one into corruption: "He who loves pleasure (becomes) a needy man; the lover of wine and oil will not grow rich" (Prov 21:17). This assumes that if the indulgent man knew that the unhappiness of long-term poverty outweighs the happiness afforded by short-term pleasures, he would not indulge in the latter. He would not "love" them. The benefits of pleasures appear deceptively great when near at hand, and one needs the art of metrics to put them in perspective.
Moral perversion Perversion
See also Bestiality.
bondage and domination (B & D)
practices with whips, chains, etc. for sexual pleasure. [Western Cult.: Misc. . Even for the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the perversely foolish man, and the wicked man ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and synonyms), to whom he is virtually identical, sin is a symptom and consequence of ignorance, a blindness to what is really good. His is a willed ignorance, because he chooses not to know the good. He despises his father's instruction (Prov 15:5a). Indeed, the teaching that the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] imparts is itself folly (Prov 16:22b), for that is what counts as "wisdom" in his eyes. His folly is therefore indelible (Prov 27:22). He is so profoundly ignorant that he reverses good and evil and fails to identify his own advantage and harm: "The way of the fool is right in his own eyes" (Prov 12:15a). Similarly of the evildoer e·vil·do·er
One that performs evil acts.
evil·doing n. it is said: "Doing justice is a pleasure to the righteous man, but a ruin to evildoers" (Prov 21:15). That is, evildoers regard righteous behavior as disastrous to themselves. "The wicked man does not have knowledge" (Prov 29:7b); his wickedness makes him want the wrong things Wrong Things is a collaborative short-fiction collection by Poppy Z. Brite and Caitlin R. Kiernan, released by Subterranean Press in 2001. This short hardback includes one solo story by each author and one story written in collaboration, as well as an afterword by Kiernan. . (20) The wicked man "needs" evildoing and can get no rest without it (Prov 4:16-17). He does not know that its consequence is his own disaster (Prov 4:19).
Fools and knaves of various sorts fail because they are blind to the further consequences of their deeds. This is the problem with the man who grasps for wealth. "The greedy man rushes after wealth" (Prov 28:22a). He has his eye on quick gain and is blind to the poverty to which his straining will bring him (Prov 28:22b); see the comments on 10:22 and 28:20. Wisdom requires perceiving the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'end' or 'future' of a deed (Prov 5:1-5, 11; 14:12; 20:21; 23:32).
The knowledge of what is evil and the awareness that evil invariably in·var·i·a·ble
Not changing or subject to change; constant.
in·vari·a·bil harms its agent are enough to keep the wise from surrender to impulse. If someone does what is wrong, he must be on some level ignorant, that is to say, foolish, for all ignorance is folly.
Aristotle criticized Socrates for failing to recognize that there exist people who know what is good yet do not desire to do it. Aristotle called their condition akrasia
Akrasia (ancient Greek ἀκρασία, "lacking command (over oneself)"), occasionally transliterated as , weakness of will (Nicomachean Ethics 1145b, 25-8). A modern approach might explain wrongdoing in terms of drives, impulses, neuroses, and various psychological pathologies. With a celerity ce·ler·i·ty
Swiftness of action or motion; speed. See Synonyms at haste.
[French célérité, from Old French, from Latin celerit that is often mistaken for dogmatism dog·ma·tism
Arrogant, stubborn assertion of opinion or belief.
1. a statement of a point of view as if it were an established fact.
2. , the sages of Proverbs, like Socrates, believed that ignorance alone is the problem and wisdom alone the solution. But they were aware of obstacles to learning, namely callowness, smugness, cynicism, and moral perversion.
Proverbs assumes and asserts that wise man's wisdom will keep him from the major failings, though he may still make mistakes. Certainly he knows that the major sins are wrong and harmful; that is what the youth is taught in the Lectures. But even a wise man may lapse in some regard, because human wisdom is not absolute knowledge. It is knowledge to a high degree of competence along with (most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially ) an eagerness to gain more. (This eagerness is lifelong. The Prologue promises to help the mature wise man increase wisdom; Prov 1:5.) If a wise man errs, it is because he did not know what was good in a particular situation. Then reproof and advice--in other words, the correction of ignorance--will set him aright a·right
In a proper manner; correctly.
[Middle English, from Old English ariht : a-, on; see a-2 + riht, right; see right. .
2.3 Principle 3: All Virtues are One (21)
For Socrates, there is only one good; hence knowledge of the good is a unity. And since all virtues are applications of this knowledge, all virtue is one. This is a holistic concept of virtue. There is a single entity that makes a man wise, courageous, temperate, and just, namely the knowledge of good and evil. We might say that knowledge is a system rather than an agglomeration ag·glom·er·a·tion
1. The act or process of gathering into a mass.
2. A confused or jumbled mass: of data, and therefore the virtues to which it corresponds (according to Principle 1) must likewise constitute a single system.
The third principle is well summarized by Xenophon, quoting Socrates:
[Socrates] said that Justice and every other form of Virtue is Wisdom. "For just actions and all forms of virtuous activity are beautiful and good. He who knows the beautiful and good will never choose anything else, he who is ignorant of them cannot do them, and even if he tries, will fail. Hence the wise do what is beautiful and good, the unwise cannot and fail if they try. Therefore since just actions and all other forms of beautiful and good activity are virtuous actions, it is clear that Justice and every other form of Virtue is Wisdom." (22)
This statement could as well describe the mind-set of Proverbs, for in it wisdom subsumes and generates all virtues, practical and moral. This axiom comes to fruition in chapters 1-9, in the Lectures and the Wisdom Interludes (A, D, and E), where wisdom is made to encompass all moral and religious virtue. In the older collections, Proverbs 10-29, it is only the moral and religious virtues that are said to elicit God's favor. In the Lectures, "the favor and high regard of God and man alike" is a reward for learning and obeying the teachings of Wisdom (Prov 3:4). Wisdom will bring security and trust in God (Prov 3:26a). There is no suggestion of any moral or religious virtues not governed by wisdom, or of different kinds of knowledge for different virtues. It is Proverbs' fundamental--and radical--claim that one wisdom embraces them all. Seeking wisdom (Prov 2:1-4) will lead to fear of the Lord (2:7) and "every good course" (2:9).
Though the moral virtues are not all precisely equated in Proverbs, in the book's present form they are bundled together in a way not paralleled elsewhere in the Bible, not even in the older sayings in Proverbs 10-29. In Proverbs 1-9, it is asserted that all virtues are learned in the same way, by means of the same wisdom, just as all are possessed by Lady Wisdom. There is only one path to life, the path of virtue and wisdom. There is no notion of righteousness without wisdom, or wisdom without generosity, or generosity without honesty.
3. THE USE OF THE MIND
Socrates puts extraordinary faith in the power of the mind. Socrates, according to Gulley Brandon Gulley (born October 7 1982),better known by his stage name Gulley, is an American rapper who was raised in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Music career
Gulley began his music career while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. , "assumes that the dominant influence of the intellect is sufficient to convert the whole character to a pattern which excludes acting against knowledge." (23) Hence "[t]he intellect has supremacy over all else in determining moral behavior." (24) The sages of Proverbs too intellectualized virtue by making it a species of knowledge. Virtue is an act of cognition.
The attainment of wisdom (= knowledge, understanding) inevitably produces the right desires, and these protect one from dangers and lead to happiness:
Get wisdom, get understanding, do not forget, do not stray from the words of my mouth. Don't desert her--then she'll keep you, love her and she'll guard you. (Prov 4:5-6) I guide you in wisdom's way, lead you in routes of rectitude. In walking, your stride won't be hobbled, and if you run you will not trip. Hold fast to discipline, don't let go, guard it, for it is your life. (Prov 4:11-13)
"Discipline"-- [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a partial synonym synonym (sĭn`ənĭm) [Gr.,=having the same name], word having a meaning that is the same as or very similar to the meaning of another word of the same language. Some are alike in some meanings only, as live and dwell. of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--is something that the youth must incorporate and take with him through life, for it is wisdom, and wisdom is life. Wisdom is the art of metrics, which Socrates calls "our soteria--'salvation' or 'well-being'--in life" (Protagoras 356de).
Knowledge is a sufficient condition for virtue because it is seamlessly joined to desire; to know the good is to desire it, and to desire it is (in the absence of external constraints) to do it. The upshot of this principle is an extraordinary assertion of individual responsibility. Each person constantly faces moral choices, with only wisdom to guide him. But wisdom is universally available (Prov 1:20-29; 8:1-4; 9:4-6); it is directly before the eyes of the one who looks carefully (Prov 17:24), and if one lacks wisdom, it is because he has chosen to spurn it (Prov 1:7b, 22, 29), to desire evil (Prov 21:10), and to love mindlessness (Prov 1:22). Sin is folly, and folly is ignorance, and ignorance is no excuse. It is itself a moral failing, the root of all failure.
Why does Proverbs consistently identify virtue with knowledge? There is no definite answer, because this principle is a deep axiom whose roots are not explored. The following considerations are offered as reasonable surmises about the motives of the sages in making this identification.
First, the engagement of the mind elevates the moral stature of a good deed. Although doing the right thing is in itself a worthy course of behavior, doing the good in active awareness of its goodness, having attained this awareness through thought and study, is dynamic and interactive. Gaining wisdom requires receptivity to the wisdom of others, which must be heard, absorbed, and applied. That is why there is great emphasis on the process of attaining wisdom, not only on its outcome. This happens especially in the Exordia to the Lectures and is articulated most clearly in the programmatic Lecture 2. (25) Wisdom is never static. The wise man must always be increasing his knowledge (Prov 1:5).
Second, the teachings of wisdom are encapsulated principles of behavior that must constantly be unpacked and applied to new situations, and this requires wisdom, not only the wish to do the right thing. There can never be enough maxims to fit all circumstances. Rather, the maxims constitute "paradigms," (26) for they compress and represent complex rules of behavior in a simple and memorable form. To be sure, law too must be constantly interpreted and reapplied, but this task belonged to judges and, later, scholars of the Law, not to everyone.
Third, the editors of Proverbs exalted the human intellect for social reasons.
The social matrix of Wisdom Literature was the royal court. The self-image of the officials and scribes in the royal service was that of men who worked by their wits (Jer 9:22). They were called "wise" not because "wise" was a professional designation but because they worked, or claimed to work, by their intellect and learning. Those among them who authored and assembled the book of Proverbs naturally underscored the centrality and viability of wisdom in the moral realm. The same expertise and shrewdness on which they prided themselves (to Jeremiah's chagrin; see Jer 9:22a) was, they felt, applicable to securing moral knowledge and action. (Jeremiah did not agree. He distinguished "wisdom" from "understanding and knowing me" [9:23], a distinction the sages of Proverbs would have thought meaningless.)
In sum, the principle that human knowledge is a sufficient precondition for virtue allows Proverbs to provide a comprehensive guide to individual behavior without recourse A phrase used by an endorser (a signer other than the original maker) of a negotiable instrument (for example, a check or promissory note) to mean that if payment of the instrument is refused, the endorser will not be responsible. to divine Torah or other communication. Fear of Yahweh and trust in him are sufficient to motivate the search for wisdom and the avoidance of sin. The wisdom one gains from one's parents and other teachers and applies to particular situations by one's own faculties is all that is needed for attaining the good and blessed life--eudaimonia, as Socrates calls it. But this principle met with some resistance and engendered new ways of thinking about the sources of moral knowledge.
Michael V the Caulker or Kalaphates (Greek: Μιχαήλ Ε΄ Καλαφάτης, . Fox
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* My colleague Gilead Morahg has made major and indelible contributions to Hebrew scholarship and to higher learning of Hebrew language Hebrew language, member of the Canaanite group of the West Semitic subdivision of the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages (see Afroasiatic languages). and literature. The Hebrew program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison especially has benefited from his contributions as educator. I am pleased to offer this study in his honor.
(1) Wisdom is praised in Ahiqar 1.12.97 (Citations according to B. Porten and A. Yardeni, Literature, Accounts, Lists: Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism. . Lists [Vol. 3; Jerusalem: Hebrew University Hebrew University of Jerusalem, at Mt. Scopus, Givat Ram, Ein Karem, and Rehovot, Israel; coeducational. First proposed in 1882, formally opened 1925. It is the world's largest Jewish university and is noted for its work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. , 1993] [= TAD]).
(2) For a more detailed comparison of Proverbs with other Wisdom (prior to it), see M. V. Fox, "What the Book of Proverbs is About" Congress Volume, (VTSup 66; Leiden: Brill, 1997), pp. 153-167.
(3) The dialogues most relevant to this discussion are Euthydemus (J. M. Cooper, ed. Plato: Complete Works, [trans. R. K. Sprague; Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997], pp. 708-745), Laches A defense to an equitable action, that bars recovery by the plaintiff because of the plaintiff's undue delay in seeking relief.
Laches is a defense to a proceeding in which a plaintiff seeks equitable relief. (J. M. Cooper, ed. Plato: Complete Works, [trans. R. K. Sprague; Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997], pp. 664-686), Meno (J. M. Cooper, ed. Plato: Complete Works, [trans. G. M. A. Grube; Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997], pp. 870-897), and Protagoras (J. M. Cooper, ed. Plato: Complete Works, [trans. S. Lombardo and K. Bell; Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997], pp. 746-790). This idea is developed mainly in the Protagoras, especially in [section][section] 352a-360d. The following remarks on Socratic ethics draw especially on N. Gulley, The Philosophy of Socrates (London: MacMillan, 1968), pp. 75-109 and integrate observations by W. J. Prior, Virtue and Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1991); G. X. Santas, Socrates: Philosophy in Plato's Early Dialogues (London: Routledge, 1979), pp. 183-217; T. J. Saunders, Plato: Early Socratic Dialogues (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Viking Penguin, 1987), pp. 13-36; and P. Coby, Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment, (Lewisburg, Penn: Bucknell, 1987; a commentary on the Protagoras). Since I am using Socrates' central ideas as a heuristic model, I have tried to base their description on concepts that are explicit, or nearly so, in the dialogues and in accord with widely accepted interpretations.
I set aside the question of whether and to what degree these ideas are Plato's creations rather than Socrates', except to note that the most relevant sources are the earlier dialogues, which are generally considered as best representing Socrates' own thinking. Moreover, some of the principles in question are ascribed to Socrates by Xenophon as well as Plato.
(4) As Walther Zimmerli ("Zur Struktur der alttestamentlichen Weisheit," ZAW (Zero Administration for Windows) An umbrella term from Microsoft for enhanced network administration features such as automatic distribution of new software and upgrades. First implemented in Windows NT, such features have migrated to other versions of Windows. See ZAK. 51 : 178) recognized, this question, to which the entirety of Proverbs offers an answer, is explicitly posed only by Qoheleth, for it is he who undertakes to scrutinize and re-evaluate the value of wisdom.
(5) J. M. Cooper, ed., Plato: Complete Works (trans. G. M. A. Grube; Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), pp. 17-36.
(6) A better translation of arete than the conventional "virtue" may be "excellence" (T. J. Saunders, Plato: Early Socratic Dialogues, p. 26). In ordinary Greek usage, arete is "excellence in or for something" (T. J. Saunders, Plato: Early Socratic Dialogues, p. 26).
(7) P. Coby, Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment, p. 109.
(8) See especially N. Gulley, The Philosophy of Socrates, pp. 83-91.
(9) P. Edwards, ed., Encyclopedia of Philosophy The Encyclopedia of Philosophy is one of the two major English encyclopedias of philosophy (the other being the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy). It is edited by Donald M. Borchert. (New York: Collier-MacMillan, 1967), 7:483.
(10) See M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9 (AB 18A; Garden City, N.Y., 2000), pp. 32-34. (M. V. Fox, Proverbs 10-31 [AB 18B] is forthcoming.) The treatment of some Proverbs' verses in this essay are based on the exegesis exegesis
Scholarly interpretation of religious texts, using linguistic, historical, and other methods. In Judaism and Christianity, it has been used extensively in the study of the Bible. Textual criticism tries to establish the accuracy of biblical texts. presented in my commentary.
(11) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (when it means 'discretion', 'good sense' rather than 'regard').
Moral virtue: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'good', as well as words from the same roots referring to types of person and deeds.
(12) W. McKane, Proverbs (OTL OTL Office of Technology Licensing
OTL Out To Lunch
OTL Overtime Loss (hockey)
OTL Over The Line (tournament in San Diego, CA, USA)
OTL Output Transformer-Less (audio systems) ; London: SCM (1) (Software Configuration Management, Source Code Management) See configuration management.
(2) See supply chain management. , 1970), pp. 10-22.
(13) I divide Proverbs 1-9 into ten "Lectures," which share the same structure and ideas and form a poetic cycle, and five "Interludes," which are independent poems inserted later into the cycle of Lectures; see M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9, pp. 44-47, 322-330.
Lectures: 1. (1:8-19); 2. (2:1-22); 3. (3:1-12); 4. (3:21-35); 5. (4:1-9); 6. (4:10-19); 7. (4:20-27); 8. (5:1-23); 9. (6:20-35); 10. (7:1-27).
Interludes: A. (1:20-33); B. (3:13-20); C. (6:1-19); D. (8:1-36); E. (9:1-18).
(14) Wisdom is not directly praised in the Bible prior to Proverbs. After Proverbs, Job 28 praises wisdom insofar in·so·far
To such an extent.
Adv. 1. insofar - to the degree or extent that; "insofar as it can be ascertained, the horse lung is comparable to that of man"; "so far as it is reasonably practical he should practice as it takes the form of piety and moral behavior, and Qoheleth occasionally endorses wisdom as practical good sense. Elsewhere various behaviors are commended as wise. It is assumed that wisdom, like wealth, is desirable and desired, but no one isolates wisdom as an object of praise in itself.
When the Egyptian sages praise wisdom or knowledge, they are usually referring to specific teachings or the scribal skills. Wisdom in a general sense is praised in Ptahhotep 11.73; 524-545) (M. Lichtheim, trans., Ancient Egyptian Literature The literature of Ancient Egypt developed from enscriptions, associated with kingship, labels and tags for items found in royal tombs, etc. This developed by the Old Kingdom into the tomb autobiography. [Berkeley: University of California The University of California has a combined student body of more than 191,000 students, over 1,340,000 living alumni, and a combined systemwide and campus endowment of just over $7.3 billion (8th largest in the United States). , 1973-1980] = AEL AEL Association Electronique Libre
AEL Appalachia Educational Laboratory
AEL Arabisch Europese Liga
AEL Agence de l'Energie
AEL Arab European League
AEL Accessible Emission Limit
AEL Acceptable Exposure Limit
AEL Arquivo Edgard Leuenroth ), Merikare ([section] 9, 5-6; trans. AEL 1.99:), and Amenemope ([section] 30; trans. AEL 2.162). Mesopotamian Wisdom Literature scarcely mentions wisdom. Ahiqar praises it warmly in 94b-95 (TAD 1.12.97).
(15) See M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9, pp. 69-71.
(16) The "simple" in Pss 19:8; 116:6; and 119:130 are also innocent, insofar as they are open to God's Torah and trust in it. The Torah then makes them wise.
(17) See M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9, pp. 275-276, 294-295, 339.
(18) I argue this point in M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9, pp. 347-348.
(19) See M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9, pp. 347-348.
(20) This idea has a precedent in Ptahhotep. The fool is he who does not, or cannot, hear, that is to say, absorb and obey the teaching. Therefore, he confuses good and evil and can only do what is wrong (Ptahhotep 11. 575-584; trans. AEL 1.74).
(21) The argument is developed in the Protagoras and refined in the Laches; see especially Protagoras 329d, 349b. The present summary is based on N. Gulley, The Philosophy of Socrates, pp. 151-164. Terry Penner ("The Unity of Virtue," in Essays on the Philosophy of Socrates, ed. H. H. Benson [New York: Oxford University Press, 1992], pp. 162-184) argues that "virtue is one" is meant strictly, that there is a single entity to which all the virtue words refer. In this sense, the principle does not apply to Proverbs.
(22) Xenophon's Memorabilia (Loeb Library; trans. E. C. Marchant; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. , 1923), 3.9.5.
(23) The Philosophy of Socrates, p. 153.
(24) The Philosophy of Socrates, p. 162.
(25) See M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9, pp. 131-134.
(26) T. Frydrych, Living Under the Sun: Examination of Proverbs and Qoheleth (VTSup 90; Leiden: Brill, 2002), pp. 19-23.