Moore Institute Workshop 2011-12: Wise Practices, Imagination and the Toleration of Diversity

Moore Institute Seminar Room

Date & Time
16th June, 2012 @ 09:30:00

Saturday 16th June

Description of Workshop

The idea of wisdom is currently attracting renewed attention as a source of innovative ideas and practices for social organisation. This workshop addresses two deficits in the associated debates, accentuating contributions derived from observed ‘wise’ practices in the West of Ireland. Wisdom is generally regarded as a form of reasoning which responds to pressing life-problems without clear solutions in either expert or everyday knowledge. This workshop explores a) how such forms of reasoning can operate under conditions of social and intellectual diversity; b) the role of imagination in envisaging novel solutions.

Since Socrates’ time, commentators on wisdom have commended slowness to rush to judgement, even in dilemmas which initially seem clear. Contemporary work on wisdom foregrounds tolerance and a capacity to understand how others see the world differently from oneself, while remaining committed to one’s own core values. However, closer studies of what people really mean when they believe they are being tolerant show strong tendencies to expect others to converge with their own ideas under more apposite temporal or social circumstances.

Papers at the workshop respond to this observation and to evidence collected in Galway and Connemara, analysing selected local practices as effecting forms of social wisdom which illustrate more genuine forms of tolerance. It also draws on empirical and theoretical research into confronting cultural diversity both in Galway City and in Canada. Finally, we focus on the role in both wisdom and tolerance of uses of the imagination in comprehending other (world-)views, explored in historical travel literature and the sociology of tourism, and to the roles in ‘wise’ discourse of Irish proverbs, triads and epigrams.