The word “wisdom” is old-fashioned, abstract, almost completely absent from the language of private life. Worse still, in terms of potential consequences, it is lacking from public life as well. Wisdom seems to evoke ways of living that have become obsolete in an age now dominated by haste and acceleration. What does living wisely mean today? The author argues that it entails paying attention to intelligence, rationality in judgments and behaviour, but also an ability to delve into the depths of our inner lives, where rivulets of reason intermingle with unexpected images and aptitudes, anxieties of the heart, passions, and emotions. This poetic book is full of humanity, which – through the voices of classic thinkers, ranging from Socrates to Schopenhauer, from Augustine to Montaigne, from Rilke to Arendt – unveils a wisdom based mainly on the precept “know yourself ”.
Eugenio Borgna is senior psychiatrist emeritus at the Maggiore Hospital in Novara.