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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: July 2009

7 - The Balance Theory of Wisdom


The current theory views successful intelligence and creativity as the bases for wisdom. Successful intelligence and creativity are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for wisdom. Particularly important is tacit knowledge, which is critical to practical intelligence.


Wisdom as Successful Intelligence and Creativity Balancing Interests

Wisdom is defined as the application of successful intelligence and creativity as mediated by values toward the achievement of a common good through a balance among (a) intrapersonal, (b) interpersonal, and (c) extrapersonal interests, over (a) short and (b) long terms, in order to achieve a balance among (a) adaptation to existing environments, (b) shaping of existing environments, and (c) selection of new environments, as shown in Figure 7.1.

Thus, wisdom is not just about maximizing one's own or someone else's self-interest, but about balancing various self-interests (intrapersonal) with the interests of others (interpersonal) and of other aspects of the context in which one lives (extrapersonal), such as one's city or country or environment or even God. Wisdom also involves creativity, in that the wise solution to a problem may be far from obvious.

An implication of this view is that when one applies successful intelligence and creativity, one may deliberately seek outcomes that are good for oneself and bad for others. In wisdom, one certainly may seek good ends for oneself, but one also seeks common good outcomes for others. If one's motivations are to maximize certain people's interests and minimize other people's, wisdom is not involved.