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Delphic Maxim #48: Be a seeker of wisdom (Φιλοσοφος γινου)

Just because it amuses me somewhat at this point, I had to check out what Google Translate had to say about the Greek for this maxim, which it translates as “philosopher construed”.  Interestingly, the word philosopher is Greek in origin (see here for the definition of philosophy), reportedly coined by Pythagoras, and meaning “lover of wisdom” from the two root words philos (loving) and sophia (wisdom)/sophos (wise).  The word “construed”, meanwhile, has a couple of definitions mostly revolving around the idea of understanding something through inference or deduction.  If you put these ideas together, the meaning of “be-ing a seeker of wisdom” becomes one of also loving wisdom.

But…what exactly is wisdom?  The Hubby puts wisdom (since I just asked him) as “the proper application of knowledge and the insight to know when to use it”.  It could just be wifely bias, but I think that is freaking brilliant.  Don’t tell him I said that, dear readers…it would go to his head.  According to Dictionary.com though, he’s not too far off the mark.  Wisdom is not just knowledge itself, but the right application of knowledge…an idea that I’m pretty fond of.

A couple years ago, we had a thread on Pagan Forum that inspired me to write my own “10 Commandments”, one of which aligns quite nicely with today’s Delphic Maxim: All knowledge is worth having, but use the symbols of the Divine with prudence for they have Power. If any of my readers are familiar with the works of Jacqueline Carey, they will likely recognize the first part of this as a saying of Shemhazai, one of Eula’s companions (and if you aren’t familiar with Jacqueline Carey, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Kushiel’s Dart!).   By my reckoning of the Divine, everything can be a symbol of Divinity and can have Power as such…which means that knowledge, while worth having is not always worth using (and I’m sure all of us can think of examples of this from history, either world-wide or personal).

So what does this maxim mean to me?  Be a lover and a seeker of wisdom.  Not just of knowledge itself, but of how and when to use it in a way that does justice of one’s self for others.

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