Wisdom: A Metaheuristic (Pragmatic) to Orchestrate Mind and Virtue Toward Excellence (Baltes & Staudinger, 2000)

Baltes and Staudinger were the first to develop a comprehensive scientific model of wisdom. Whilst it has since been accused of omitting an essential emotional element, they played a critical role in dragging wisdom into the laboratory for the first time. This paper presents an overview of this pioneering work.

Abstract: The primary focus of this article is on the presentation of wisdom research conducted under the heading of the Berlin wisdom paradigm. Informed by a cultural-historical analysis, wisdom in this paradigm is defined as an expert knowledge system concerning the fundamental pragmatics of life. These include knowledge and judgment about the meaning and conduct of life and the orchestration of human development toward excellence while attending conjointly to personal and collective well-being. Measurement includes think-aloud protocols concerning various problems of life associated with life planning, life management, and life review. Responses are evaluated with reference to a family of 5 criteria: rich factual and procedural knowledge, lifespan contextualism, relativism of values and life priorities, and recognition and management of uncertainty. A series of studies is reported that aim to describe, explain, and optimize wisdom. The authors conclude with a new theoretical perspective that characterizes wisdom as a cognitive and motivational metaheuristic (pragmatic) that organizes and orchestrates knowledge toward human excellence in mind and virtue, both individually and collectively.

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