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  • Cited by 51
  • Print publication year: 1990
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Wisdom and its relations to intelligence and creativity


When we think of Solomon, we think of him as having been wise. Einstein we remember as intelligent, and Milton as creative. What makes one man wise, another intelligent, and a third creative? Clearly, any one of these men might be remembered for any of these three attributes. Certainly Solomon's solution to the problem of how to determine the true mother of a child was intelligent and creative as well as wise. Einstein's formulation of the theory of relativity bore extraordinary elements of creativity and elements of wisdom as well as of intelligence. And Milton's Paradise Lost shows prodigious intelligence and wisdom as well as creativity. Yet, we remember each of these great men for a different attribute. Much as the attributes may overlap, they also seem to have distinctive characteristics that set them apart.

The goal of this chapter is to formulate a theory of wisdom that specifies its common as well as its distinctive attributes with respect to intelligence and creativity. To accomplish this goal, I will draw on two approaches to the study of wisdom: use of implicit theories and use of explicit theories. What, exactly, constitutes an implicit or an explicit theory?

Implicit theories are constructions by people that reside in the minds of these people. They thus constitute people's folk psychology. Such theories need to be discovered rather than invented because they already exist, in some form, in people's heads.