A blog about wisdom and brain science, threaded with philosophy, psychology, theology, and everyday experience

Wash Your Hands, Cleanse Your Brain

First off, the usual apologies for the long radio silence. As some of you know, I was teaching this semester at both Columbia University and New York University, and things got predictably hectic in the final weeks of the term. But I want to congratulate a fantastic group of students at both places, and hope […]

Do We Get Wiser With Age? A Recent Study in Support

There’s a lovely story in Cicero’s essay “On Old Age” that is as modern as yesterday’s family court docket. The adult sons of a wealthy man, claiming their elderly father to be “weak-minded” and easily distracted from family finances, basically sued to get power of attorney and control his property. The case went to court, […]

Nietzsche and the Wisdom of Neural Editing (With an Assist to Leonard Lopate)

As some of you know, I was a guest on The Leonard Lopate Show yesterday on WNYC here in New York. He’s one of the most astute and shrewdly probing interviewers in radio, and I’ve had the pleasure of being on his show a number of times. You never quite know where the conversation is […]

Is Obama Wise?

Apologies for the extended absence. I’ve been on the road talking about “Wisdom” and it’s been gratifying to see such large and enthusiastic crowds. We had more than 200 people in Seattle, 150 at Powell’s Bookstore (yeah, Portland!), nearly 100 at Stanford, and 200 people attended a sold-out conversation I had with neuroscientist Andre Fenton […]

Wisdom is not passive

Following my talk at Seattle’s Town Hall the other night (great crowd, more than 200 people), a gentleman from the audience posed a provocative question. My emphasis on qualities like compassion and humility, he suggested, implied a kind of passivity to wisdom. The qualities he most associated with wisdom, he continued, were vision, imagination, and […]

Anger in the Brain, Part II

I had a chance to catch up with Australia-based researcher Tom Denson after my earlier post, and wanted to pass along a few more observations about the neurobiology of anger that came out of that conversation. First off, there may be something to this idea that anger is an emergent neural property that arises when […]

Landscape with Wisdom

One of my favorite books is a dog-eared, yellowing Dover paperback entitled simply Great Speeches by Native Americans, and one of my favorite passages in the book is a short, politely dismissive speech made in 1744 by an anonymous Iroquois spokesman, delivered to the colonial leaders of Virginia in response to the government’s offer to […]

Introduction to Mind-Wise

MIND-WISE: Welcome First, take a deep breath. Mind-Wise is a blog dedicated to the idea that thinking about wisdom maybe, just maybe, can make us a little wiser in the way we conduct our daily business. And the first step in thinking about wisdom is to slow down and pause long enough to think about […]

Anger, the brain, and the wisdom of crowds

Lot of anger out there. In the macroverse of national politics, post-election polling indicated that voters in Massachusetts were mad as hell—at Washington, at President Obama, at the pending health care legislation—when they sent a Republican to Washington to take Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate. The poll, according to the Washington Post, “underscores how […]

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