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Wisdom: To Taste and Know

Dr. Joe Rudolph
What do we mean by Wisdom? 
 
Do you know what the Latin word for wisdom is? Sapientia. Sapere, in the infinitive form, which means "to taste." So, to be wise is to taste. 
What about our English word: wis-dom?
 
"dom" is an old English word that means statute or judgement and used as a suffix it means "under the judgment of." For example, a kingdom is under the judgement of the king. Therefore, wisdom literally means "under the judgement of the wise." If we dig far back into the origins of Germanic language, "dom" also comes from a word that means "seeing" or "knowing."

So what, based on these two roots: wisdom as "taste" and wisdom as "what is under the rule of knowing or seeing" can we say? 
 
Wisdom is about reality, understanding it, having a taste for it, having a feel for it. Understanding people, understanding things, understanding God. Taste and sight, after all, require a real, immediate encounter. 
 
There is wisdom from books and there is wisdom from interacting with people: street-smarts and book smarts, we call them. There is another kind of smarts out here—mountain smarts and wood-smarts: knowing about weather and trees and plants and bears and rivers and snow. 
 
There is a higher wisdom, and we might call that philosophy: the love of "wisdom itself," not just knowing or understanding anything, but loving the understanding of everything. 
 
Do we love learning because we like the validation of good grades or do we think that what we learn is useful for life? Or is there some other thrill of having the thing — the math problem, the latin sentence, the diagram of the cell — click for us and enjoying the feeling that is as good as scoring the perfect shot on goal, a baseball cleanly struck, or a piece of music that we play just exactly right. 
 
Truth, Thomas Aquinas tells us, is the conformity of the intellect to its object, when we — to use a common expression — wrap our minds around something. 
 
Wisdom—Sapientia—is a fruit of a soul devoted to truth in all its dimensions, in all of its splendor, tasting everything. Seeing all around.
 
At the end of the day we put the textbooks away and hopefully go out to enjoy a wonderful, fun, restful, summer. However, never stop learning, never stop trying to see things — to taste — to understand things as they are.

As we read in Proverbs 3:14:
 
"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver,
and her profit better than gold."
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