How Does The Desire For Wisdom Emerge?

How does the desire for wisdom emerge?

Not everyone cares about wisdom, and the question–“What is wisdom, and how can I become wise?”–only occurs to some in some contexts.

(At this moment in history, I posit that the question of wisdom is of paramount importance, but making this argument is a subject for another day. For now, the question remains: “How does the desire for wisdom emerge?”)

The desire for wisdom can only emerge once one has had an existential opening. An existential opening can be defined as the experience of having questions bend back on the questioner such that the questioner is now in the spotlight. In other words, the questioner of the question is now the one at stake in the questioning.

But why would this be the condition that enables the desire for wisdom to emerge?

Because wisdom has to do–to put the matter roughly here–(a) with knowing how to live and (b) with living that knowledge knowingly. And I can’t even begin this inquiry, “How shall I live if I wish to live best?,” until I bring myself into the question. Who is the one who wants to know how to live?

And that question in which the questioner is now in the spotlight can’t arise until “something happens” that compels one to go from “being asleep in one’s life” to “being awake to the nature and character of one’s life.”

I call that pivot point an “existential opening.”


To argue as I have above is to say a little but not much since the desire for wisdom can arise without wisdom itself emerging. That is, we haven’t yet inquired into how wisdom itself can emerge in the first place. I begin doing so in earnest in the following posts.