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Unearned Wisdom

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

“Beware of unearned wisdom” – Carl Jung


This is something I’ve been thinking about and discussing with people about over the past couple of weeks. I find this quote absolutely profound and something worth talking about, especially in 2019.


First off, what is unearned wisdom? I felt like I had a grasp on the concept when I first heard about it, but it was still worth seeing other perspectives. So, I asked multiple people on their thoughts and surprisingly, got a variety of different answers that all had similarities. What was interesting when taking the perspectives and applying it to “Beware of unearned wisdom” the interpretations have fewer similarities. Something was off with our interpretation of wisdom, but maybe not, because all the perspectives of “unearned wisdom” had a similar sentiment. Adding two words “beware of” completely changes the dynamic and depth of the perspectives, which I found fascinating.

I’ll give two examples:


“What does unearned wisdom mean to you? No Google, just thoughts.”


  • The ability to know/give advice that you wouldn’t take, not because it’s bad advice, but because you don’t have what it takes to act it out.

  • You haven’t made enough mistakes yet to understand the process of predicting consequences and results for your actions.

Both answers are good, clearly conveying their thoughts of unearned wisdom in a concise way.


But why is this important in 2019? The truth is, it’s not just 2019, it’s the age of technology, the age of the internet. Knowledge is at your fingertips 24/7 but knowing is not understanding. This creates troubling dilemmas when confronted with the harsh reality of life. Have you ever felt helpless because you know exactly what you need to do but still can’t do it? That’s that shit.


Jung gives this statement as a warning for all wisdom that has been obtained through any means but through life experience. We are living in a world where we are simulating realities, such as dating and socializing. Don't get me wrong, there is real utility in using these simulations to get what you’re looking for, but it’s a dangerous game. This creates issues, you’re at the mercy of the simulation rather than venturing outside of these simulations to gain the experience to transcend what the simulations can provide.


Just because you’re on Tinder doesn’t mean you know how to attract someone, despite how many people swiped right. But you believe you really know women or think all men are boring because of your interactions online. If you’ve been using Tinder as your primary means of dating for the past 4 years, then you’ll have some serious trepidations about walking up to that person you find really attractive. The heartbreaking part is if you refuse to walk up to that person, a cycle begins to form and get stronger. Now the simulation is more important than real life. I think; in a sense, this is what the great Carl Jung meant when he said, “beware of unearned wisdom”.


There are a million ways to pick this apart. Who knew 4 words could carry so much weight? I’m sorry if I came up short on my articulation of this brilliant quote. What examples of unearned wisdom have you noticed in the age of the internet?


 

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