Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Vol. 11 No. 2 Mar 2015

Editors’ Introduction to the Special Issue

Roger Walsh and Jonathan Reams

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Words from the Wise: Exploring the Lives, Qualities, and Opinions of Wisdom Exemplars

Drew Krafcik

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to study exemplars of wisdom through a structured, theoretically grounded peer-nomination process. Twenty exemplars were given a variety of quantitative measures that included the Self-Assessed Wisdom Scale (SAWS), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), Spiritual Perspective Scale (SPS), Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), Loyola Generativity Scale (LGS), Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Narcissistic Personality Inventory-16 (NPI-16), Humility Inventory (HI), Big Five Inventory (BFI), and the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT). Exemplars also underwent lengthy semi-structured interviews to assess their lives, qualities, and understanding of wisdom. Interviews were analyzed for their significant themes. Results of this study suggest that exemplars of wisdom are humble, spiritual, mindful, insightful, tell the truth, and are open to experiences. They have meaningful, long-term relationships with mentors and loved ones. Exemplars are deeply influential in the lives of others and have very high life satisfaction. The 2 predominant definitions of wisdom given by exemplars were that wisdom is practical and comes from the unknown. Exemplars offered multiple strategies for the cultivation of wisdom-related processes, primarily the relationship with a mentor. Future research may clarify an emerging relationship between transcendent and practical wisdom.

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Constructive-Developmental Theory and the Integrated Domains of Wisdom: Are Post-Conventional Leaders Really Wiser?

Sharon L. Spano

Abstract: How leaders experience wisdom is important to our understanding of leadership behavior as well as to our overall understanding of leadership. The article explores qualitative findings that may advance academic discourse and research at the intersection between leadership, wisdom, and constructive-developmental theory. The present study examined how 12 executive leaders who assessed at the conventional and post-conventional stages of adult development experience wisdom. It is significant in that it addresses a gap in the literature between wisdom and constructive-developmental theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to determine how executive leaders understand their leadership role in terms of the cognitive, reflective, and affective domains of wisdom. Contrary to research that defines and operationalizes wisdom as the integration of these domains, findings indicate that participants experience wisdom in one or more of the domains of wisdom. Participants were also assessed for their meaning-making capacity to determine their stage of development using the SCTi-Map instrument. Contrary to research in constructive-developmental theory that suggests that post-conventional levels of development may equate to higher levels of wisdom, findings also indicate that there was no significant difference between how leaders describe their propensity for wisdom and their measured adult stage of development. Leaders who assessed at both the conventional and post-conventional stages of development described a propensity for wisdom. Analysis of participant responses suggests that the wisdom, in all its complexity, has its own trajectory and therefore necessitates inquiry into the lines of human development to include integral perspectives associated with spiritual, emotional, and psychosocial measures. The results of this study indicate the potential for additional research that explores wisdom in the context of both adult lines and adult stages of development to determine if specific correlations do exist.

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Overview of Rowson Dissertation

Jonathan Reams

A Brief Overview of From Wisdom Related Knowledge to Wise Acts: Refashioning the Conception of Wisdom to Improve our Chances of Becoming Wiser

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Wisdom, Spirituality and the Virtuality of Self: An Interview with Jonathan Rowson

Jonathan Reams and Jonathan Rowson

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The Cultivation of Wisdom in the Classroom

Juliane Reams

Abstract: This article focuses on a research project that was designed to inquire into the cultivation of wisdom in the classroom in the context of a newly implemented school subject called Glück (English: happiness). Glück was introduced in order to make a difference in traditional mainstream schooling as a reaction to school curricula that emphasize data and knowledge transfer. It is different and new because it embraces the kind of learning that includes the senses, the mind, body, spirit and the guts. Its multidimensional approach makes an attempt to validate a renunciation of the reductionistic perspective of traditional and contemporary schooling. How it is implemented served as a transformational process through a set of experiential exercises, group discussions, contemplative practices, teamwork etc. It is my aim to give an insight into what I understood as an alternative learning arena embedded in a traditional schooling system and the implications for further development beyond the transfer of data and information in adolescents. Zooming in on Glück, I aim to provide some perspectives on how key experiences and the reflection upon them can lead to the cultivation of wisdom.

The understanding of cultivating wisdom I have gained from this study is that it is a dynamic process where the creation of new structures of meaning making emerge through the interaction with others, with oneself and the reflection upon one’s own interior processes that can help unfold, know how to use and refine tacit knowledge. Part of this process is actively discovering and transforming complex information in order to embody it and make it one’s own.

Due to the assumption that traditional schooling mostly puts an emphasis on conveying informational knowledge (Hart, 2009; Sternberg, 2001) (to the more or less attentive) students and another assumption that wisdom is often seen in connection to age, this article makes an attempt to give an alternative perspective. In this article I propose a synergistic model of the interior process that enables the activation of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge and the development of age-appropriate wisdom in stages in due consideration of the nature and life tasks of adolescence.

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Much Madness is Divinest Sense: Wisdom and Development

Caroline Bassett

Abstract: No one has yet come up with a complete understanding of wisdom. We can approximate it, we can circle it, we can gaze at it longingly, we can try to seize it with both hands. In my attempt to understand wisdom, I look at it through several different lenses – recent research into measures of wisdom, the discoveries of neuroscience, integral theory, post-conventional development, how wisdom operates in daily life, and my own findings. They include my four-part model and my assertion that wisdom lies on a continuum from rare and rarefied to humble and pragmatic. Finally, I discuss how individuals can enhance their own wisdom and encourage it in others. Wisdom is large; it contains multitudes.

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Wise Ways of Seeing: Wisdom and Perspectives

Roger Walsh

Abstract: The capacity for perspective taking is thought to be linked to psychological development and to wisdom. This article draws from psychological, contemplative, cross-cultural, and philosophical disciplines to create an inventory of perspectival skills and their possible relationships to wisdom. The nature of perspectives is explored, as are the characteristics of healthy perspectives, and the factors—such as developmental stage, assumptions, and state of mind—that determine the number and kinds of available perspectives. The article then examines rare postconventional perspectival capacities such as the ability to integrate multiple perspectives, to adopt higher order metaperspectives, and to experience transperspectival “pure awareness.” Fifteen kinds of wise perspectives and perspectival skills are suggested. Finally, the article reviews psychological, relational, contemplative, philosophical, and educational methods thought to foster perspectival skills and wisdom.

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