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The Beginning of Wisdom:
Ancient Insights, Modern Questions

What does it mean to be wise? And is attaining wisdom worthwhile? In this course, we will “listen in” on the conversations of wise men and women by reading the “wisdom literature” of different ages and civilizations. As we shall see, these works—from the biblical book of Proverbs to Marcus Aurelius’s Meditationsoften provide the literary equivalent of sound bites. They are terse, dense, memorable, and endlessly challenging. We will explore the notions of wisdom presented by these texts (which often contradict one another), along with the questions of whether—and how—they might lead us to wisdom in the modern age.