Tuesday, June 05, 2012

wisdom vs. intelligence...

Today I will be working in my own wood shop on products to be shipped on Friday, and will spend some time getting the Clear Spring School wood shop ready for an upcoming ESSA class. I also have my two week long class coming up at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship followed by a lecture in Boston and a two day class at the Elliot School in association with North Bennet St. School. The amount of preparation for those things and for being away 3 weeks makes me a bit dizzy.

I realize that for some, the "wisdom" of the hands may seem egotistical, and may require explanation. First, the idea is truly not my own alone. Anaxagoras had said that man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands. And so in writing this blog, I am not trying to put forth my own wisdom or intelligence as being superior to others, but to illustrate the sustaining relationship between hand and mind and its role in the creation of wisdom, which is a thing greater than intelligence alone and particularly greater than mind alone. In essence, wisdom consists of something more than mere intellect. It sometimes comes with age, but not always. You can be as old as all get out and still dumb as a post. Wisdom is tempered by experience, and is thus a matter of character as well as intelligence and learning. It requires kenntnis as well as wissenschaft. You don't get it by reading books or by taking classes unless those books and classes require that you take matters into your own hands to test what you have learned. And if schools were as much involved in the cultivation of wisdom as of intellect, they would not be the failure for some students they are today.

The following is from Charles H. Ham and his book Hand and Mind, 1880:
"Nothing stimulates and quickens the intellect more than the use of mechanical tools. The boy who begins to construct things is compelled at once to begin to think, deliberate, reason, and conclude. As he proceeds he is brought in contact with powerful natural forces. If he would control, direct, and apply these forces he must first master the laws by which they are governed; he must investigate the causes of the phenomena of matter, and it will be strange if from this he is not also led to a study of the phenomena of mind. At the very threshold of practical mechanics a thirst for wisdom is engendered, and the student is irresistibly impelled to investigate the mysteries of philosophy. Thus the training of the eye and hand reacts upon the brain, stimulating it to excursions into the realm of scientific discovery in search of facts to be applied in practical forms at the bench and the anvil."
And so, you will find that it is not enough to read here. The idea of wisdom may seem pretentious, unless you, too, are inspired to explore the wisdom of your own hands. Plant a garden, play instrumental music, make something of useful beauty.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Have been reading your blog for a while now and each time I think: YES. Just to read someone elses story but with similar views feels like a validation of my own.