It’s time to put wisdom back on the agenda – so says a radical new collection of essays from leading public thinkers, including Lord Richard Layard, Theodore Dalrymple and Judith Rich Harris.
“Recent times have seen widespread finger-pointing about the causes of the recession and our ‘broken’ society”, says Dr Ben Irvine, editor of the Journal of Modern Wisdom. “Greedy bankers, unscrupulous journalists, swindling politicians, benefit fraudsters, manipulative marketers and big businesses are all among the accused. Indeed, in today’s networked world, few of us can fully evade responsibility for the shape of the economy.
“But when trust and common decency break down in society, it’s crucial to ask why our values have been affected in this way. Part of the explanation is that too many so-called ‘cultural leaders’ have failed to provide the right moral guidance, or, in a word, wisdom.
“Especially in humanities subjects, such as sociology, philosophy, literature and theology, too many thinkers have not lived up to their responsibilities to the public.”
What many intellectuals have done, says Irvine, is serve up a cocktail of bizarre ideologies, with the consequence of misleading generations of impressionable students as well as the wider public.
“Lots of academics get paid to write long books and lectures which complicatedly deny the existence of such basic things as truth, reason, meaning and goodness. But such views have a devastating effect on people’s sense of responsibility. Why would anyone care about the social consequences of their actions when they’ve been taught that there’s no such thing as right and wrong – or even reality?”
So what can we do about the unreasonable behaviour of many of society’s most reflective members? “They need to get real and wise-up”, declares Irvine.
“We all need to remind ourselves about the simple things that make life worth living, such as kindness, earnestness, decency, honesty, hard work, learning, conscientiousness, families, friends and communities. And we need to be confident enough to promote these homely values on a big scale.”
The Journal of Modern Wisdom covers topics as diverse as food, parenting, depression, manufacturing, social deviance, painting and the comedy of Bill Hicks.
Find out more at www.modernwisdom.co.uk , or contact the editor on 07545 471 633 or
“For public thinkers and the thinking public."