Dydara's Blog

January 18, 2011

wise vs smart

Filed under: Interesting and Useful Topics — dydara @ 8:44 pm

“a smart person knows what to say, but a wise person knows whether to say it or not”

“The dumb one does not learn from his mistakes. The intelligent one learns from his mistakes. The wise learns from other people’s mistakes.”

In my life I have learned a lot of wise words, but I am not a wise person. Wise men may not be learned; learned men may not be wise”. Wise men are a person who uses the mind creatively and they made the right decision. These words are really useful for my life. I think I can have a happy life and true contentment in life because of these words. If you can apply them in your life, it will be very useful for you too. Quotations help us remember the simple yet profound truths that give life perspective and meaning. When it comes to life’s most important lessons, we can all use gentle reminders. This is a gentle and heartfelt guide to the fundamentals of living a life rich in joy and contribution.

Collecting stamp is a famous hobby as well as an easy activity. Some people are considering the habit of collecting stamps but for me, collecting quotations have been my hobby since I was in high school.

The question is how we can relate it on our daily life? I am always amazed and impress by the wit of the writers and speakers who are able to express with clarity in words the truth about the different aspects of life.

” The difference between a smart man
and a wise man is that a smart man
knows what to say, a wise man knows
whether or not to say it.”Frank M. Garafola

“There is a fundamental difference between a smart man and a wise man. A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid that mistake altogether.”
First let’s differentiate a smart man from a wise man. A smart man is an intelligent person. He has the ability to think logically and solve problems in a straight forward way. He knows many facts and information, and Knows how to answer and
understand certain kind of questions or situations. While a wise man
makes wise decisions. They know how to use their brains correctly and
know how to make good choices. They are wise in both actions and decisions. They know the right thing to do in situations and know what his true priorities are.
A wise man doesn’t make the mistake at all Why? Because the wise man knows how to observe. Wise people think first before they act while there are some smart people are really dumb, it’s because they know about something but just can’t put it to proper use.

For example, you are in a trouble A smart man knows how to resolve and escape on that problem, while the wise man will not get into that trouble in the first place, because a wise man knows how to be not involve in that kind of problem.
Well, for me, it takes a lot more to be wise than to be smart:)I like to be wise than to be smart. 🙂

The following article is a  post from one blog.

Paul Graham has an interesting post, Is it worth being wise?, where he addresses what wisdom is, and how it differs from (“merely”) being smart or intelligent. He dismisses two supposedly-popular accounts:

  • wisdom applies to human problems, and intelligence to abstract ones
  • wisdom comes from experience, while intelligence is innate.

He suggests an alternative:

  • “wise” means one has a high average outcome across all situations, and “smart” means one does spectacularly well in a few.

Without discussing each in detail, I’d say that we have here what JS Mill regarded as the most common situation, i.e., each of a set of apparently conflicting opinions has some part of the truth:

the conflicting doctrines, instead of being one true and the other false, share the truth between them; and the nonconforming opinion is needed to supply the remainder of the truth, of which the received doctrine embodies only a part. Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are often true, but seldom or never the whole truth. They are a part of the truth; sometimes a greater, sometimes a smaller part, but exaggerated, distorted, and disjoined from the truths by which they ought to be accompanied and limited. (On Liberty, Ch.2)

Graham’s own suggestion seems to me not quite right, not least because it will be hard to distinguish being smart from being lucky, which on occasion makes some decision turn out spectacularly well. Indeed, in non-trivial domains (“subjects not palpable to sense”), luck is plausibly the operative factor in most decisions which turn out spectacularly well. Curiously, the words “luck” and “fortune” don’t appear in Graham’s essay.

Having had a career in academic philosophy, hanging out at times with people at the top levels, and now having spent a few years in business, I have my own hunch about the difference between wisdom and smartness. It is probably only part of the truth, but worth throwing into the mix.

Academic philosophers are often smart – sometimes spectacularly so – but are rarely wise. Hence, for example, the proliferation of inane opinions supported by powerful-seeming arguments. Meanwhile, in my limited experience of business, the proportion of people who strike me as very smart seems rather less than in academia – but at the same time there seems to be somewhat more wisdom around.

As the “CEO” of a small software enterprise, I’ve found that one of the most demanding parts of the job is being required so often to make decisions on matters where the consequences may be quite large, but there are multiple relevant factors, huge unknowns, and no reliable method of making a decision, at least in any reasonable time-frame.

Wisdom is being able to generally make good choices when confronted with such decisions.

Smartness, on the other hand, is being able to “figure things out.” A good example in our company is when Dan, our lead programmer, figured out the mathematical equations governing the elegant shape of the curvy lines in analysis mode. (I’m not suggesting that Dan isn’t wise, only that he is smart.)

In business decisions, very often you’re simply not able to figure things out. You don’t have the information, the time, or even a reliable method or tools. All you can really go by are your hunches, which are grounded in

  • your own personal experience of similar situations
  • your general background knowledge. For example, you may learn quite a lot from reading books, blogs, etc.
  • relevant insight you can glean from discussions you have with colleagues, company directors, friends etc.

From these sources you get a vague “sense” of the situation which recommends (for better or worse) a way to go. Wise people have more experience (from which they’ve been able to learn); more background knowledge; good colleagues etc; and are able to exploit these resources by synthesizing relevant parts of it into a reasonable “take” on the problem.

Practically speaking, to go beyond just relying on the intuitive hunch based on a sense of the situation, there seem to be two strategies:

  1. Apply some simple decision structuring framework – SWOT, multi-attribute utility matrix, etc.
  2. Follow an “ideology” – a prior commitment to a strategy, goal or approach which simplifies and guides the decision.

“Smart” people will of course dismiss both of these as being intellectually childish. But people who are merely smart have the luxury of being smart because, generally, they don’t have to be wise. If they were required to be wise, my guess is they’d end up doing much the same thing, and wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss apparently simplistic approaches.

So in short, being wise is making a reasonable choice in an inherently speculative or vague situation, a choice guided by a good sense of the situation which in turn is based on the knowledge one has immediately at hand – prior experience, background knowledge, and the people around you.  Often, with decisions demanding wisdom, you’ll never really know ifyou were right, i.e., if one of the other choices would have been better.  Being smart is being able to apply general intellectual resources to “think through” a problem and arrive at a recognisably “right” answer.

Being wise is not intrinsically better than being smart. Both have their place, and of course one would like to be both.



  1. Tho you should never forget you will never be wise whitout beeing smart, smart you get from folowing the wise persons direction the wise person point you in to make a better outcome, for an example a smart person might be so smart that he makes a wepond :example: “the atomic bomb” what!??!?! and now tell me this is not a exelent pease of work, but was it really that smart if someone uses it back on you in the future, so for to be smart you also have to be wise if you dont see the outcome of things that you do, dont do them or use them becuse that would not be wise or smart at all, so for to be samart you simply have to be wise, smart is a word that we human’s put in a term that does not mean it is the right word for
    mass destruction and madness, whit more simple words theres is alots of diffrent ways of smart and just one way to be wise.

    Comment by Benjamin Sten Hedström Lindskog — March 5, 2012 @ 8:55 am | Reply

    • You are not correct.Smart means being able to solve specific problems more succesfully then perhaps someone else.That person can find quicker and more effective ways to solve the problem.
      Wise man can see the outcome of it,He can coordinate smart guy in hes work,with the chance that he does not know himself how to go trough these steps personally but he knows that the other person will succeed.
      As mentioned above being smart does not mean you cant be wise or vice versa.
      Being this or that adds something from both sides for sure but the meaning of these words itself are totally different.

      Comment by MatroXX — July 8, 2012 @ 4:51 am | Reply

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