Howard Nusbaum - December 2015 Meeting Topic

Interactions of wisdom and virtues in human flourishing

Howard C. Nusbaum

Department of Psychology

The University of Chicago

Within psychology, wisdom is sometimes studied as a form of expertise that in some respects seems different from other intellectual or moral virtues.  However, other theories of wisdom closely connect it to the virtues and we have collected some data in the Chicago Center for Practical Wisdom that suggests a strong relationship between wisdom and epistemic humility, perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and tolerance of ambiguity.  There is apparently a negative relationship between wisdom and need for social dominance and need for closure.  These preliminary findings suggest that wisdom is related to a cluster of aspects of human psychology that are themselves properly objects of study.  We seek to better understand whether wisdom is constituted of these aspects and other virtues or whether these are the foundations from which wisdom develops.  Moreover, we want to understand how the intellectual virtues and moral virtues interact in respect of human flourishing, and to better understand how flourishing and wisdom are related.