What is the difference between an intelligent and a wise person?

Daniel Wieser 🔥
3 min readMar 5

The terms “intelligent” and “wise” are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different qualities.

Intelligence

Intelligence is generally associated with cognitive abilities such as learning, problem-solving, and reasoning. An intelligent person may be highly educated, skilled in a particular field, or possess a high IQ. They are often good at processing information quickly and coming up with solutions to complex problems.

Wisdom

Wisdom, on the other hand, is more closely associated with life experience and the ability to make sound judgments and decisions. A wise person is someone who has a deep understanding of human nature and the world around them. They have developed insight and perspective over time, and are able to use this to make thoughtful and well-informed decisions.

A Practical Example

Perhaps you also know the following funny example:

  • Knowledge is knowing that the tomato is a fruit. Knowledge is the simple act of knowing a piece of information. In this case, the knowledge is that the tomato is a fruit. This is a factual piece of information that can be learned through education or research.
  • Wisdom is not mixing it with other fruits in a fruit salad. Wisdom, on the other hand, is the ability to apply knowledge in a practical and meaningful way. In this case, the wisdom is knowing that while the tomato is technically a fruit, it should not be mixed with other fruits in a fruit salad. This is because tomatoes have a different flavor profile than most fruits and are typically used in savory dishes rather than sweet ones. So, the wisdom here is the practical application of the knowledge in a specific context.
  • Intelligence is being able to distinguish one from the other. Intelligence is the ability to think critically and make logical connections between pieces of information. In this case, intelligence is being able to distinguish between a tomato and other fruits. While this distinction may seem obvious, it requires a certain level of cognitive ability to recognize and categorize objects based on their characteristics.

Having Knowledge and Being Intelligent

Someone who has a lot of knowledge does not necessarily have to be intelligent (and vice versa). However, these abilities complement each other very well.

Intelligence requires understanding. Or rather: understanding a thing can only be grasped by means of intelligence. How can you make your greatest use of knowledge if you do not have the necessary intelligence?

Wisdom, of course, is something completely different. Wisdom is based on experience and is further influenced by our decisions. Logic would be to put a fruit in a fruit salad, but understanding that sometimes even logic has gaps requires a bit of experience. You need to understand when to break the rules to make it better.

Conclusion

So is it better to be intelligent or wise?

One does not exclude the other.

Why can’t you be both?

It is often argued on social media that it is better to be wise. This is to honour the elderly and to say that they are appreciated. Is wisdom possible without intelligence; what lessons can one possibly learn from experience if one is not intelligent enough? Thus we can say, that only the intelligent people will be wise at some point.

And the fool will stay a fool even at age.

Daniel Wieser 🔥

http://www.danielwieser.com Genius Mastermind 📚 Wrote a lot of books just for fun | ASD | Writes about writing books, technology, AI, ChatGPT.