Virtue is Knowledge; Wickedness is Ignorance

Bringing Them Together

Solomon said,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

About 400 years later, Socrates declared,

“All vice is the result of ignorance, and that no person is willingly bad; correspondingly, virtue is knowledge, and those who know the right will act rightly.”

Another 400 years after Socrates, Jesus prayed in the cross before dying,

“Father forgive them, for they do not “KNOW” what they are doing.”

Am I convinced now? Virtue comes from fearing God. The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of knowledge. That’s why virtue is knowledge. If we don’t acknowledge God we then have no opportunity of acquiring “knowledge” about God and about His will. In that sense we are ignorant. Therefore, wickedness is lack of knowledge of God, His will and his virtue, and is therefore ignorance.

Maybe another way to resolve this is to look at the evolution of the meaning of the word knowledge. In my old article, Educated to Criticize, I responded to a blogger friend’s reply by citing Dale Carnegie’s book quoting a Princeton University president saying, “Education is the ability to meet life’s situation.”

It seems to me that the Word “education” has evolved in meaning. Few decades ago, education was “the ability to meet life’s situation.” Now, “education”, in our modern way of thinking, evident in the very negative behavior of many (not all) highly educated people, has become “the ability to meet academic situations” not life’s situations anymore. How many educated people are out there who do not “KNOW” how to respect other people? They are educated but they are IGNORANT in the virtue of “respect.”

Maybe the same is true of the word knowledge. Few hundred years ago, knowledge was always connected with action. As the saying goes, “To know and not to act is not to know at all.” Meaning, knowledge is complete if we act upon it. If we know the right things and does not act upon it, then we don’t really know it in holistic way. Maybe it’s only head knowledge. Only in the mind. And maybe that is how we understand knowledge now: we separate it from action.

The problem with head knowledge—when we separate it from action—is that it becomes half-baked if we believe that we humans have four dimensions. Beside from mind, we also have body, heart, and spirit. If we know some things only in mind but not by heart, not by conviction, and not by action, then our knowledge is not completely baked inside ourselves, because only our mind is involved. Only one aspect of our four-dimensional life is engaged. That’s not balanced.

When we deeply know something, we usually know it through all of our four dimensions: we know it in our mind (intellect), we know it by heart (emotion), we believe it with strong conviction (spirit), and we show it in our actions (body).

Now, knowing myself, and knowing how many things I know only in the level of my mind, I have just discovered that in this way, I am ignorant in many things. I have to start chasing knowledge now.

7 thoughts on “Virtue is Knowledge; Wickedness is Ignorance

  1. I think Socrates was right . . . we all do the best we can, with the information we have at the time….. the determining factor may be whether or not “knowing” is the same as “internalizing” a truth . . . once internalized, knowing becomes true knowledge . . .just a thought . . . ♥♥ Janet

    1. Hello Janet, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Yes you’re right. And I like your term “internalizing” what we know. It took me four pages in this article before I reached that same conclusion when I used the phrase “holistic way” in describing “knowing.”

      “Once ‘internalized’—when we include all our four dimensions: mind, heart, body, spirit—knowing becomes true knowledge. I like the way you put it.

      Thanks a lot Janet! 🙂

    1. Yes Sarah, and maybe there are still more.
      In fact I’m already thinking of another one.

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing a thought! 🙂

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