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HE THAT RECEIVES COUNSEL IS WISE; A philosophical & biblical perspective.

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BACKGROUND TO THE CASE

One day I asked myself, Richard, you are wise and a genius, you are also anointed, gifted and exceptional, you love thinking and you know how to think. So why do you like to seek the opinions and counsel of people? Are you not supposed to be the one giving counsel instead? Don’t you think there is something wrong with you and how you go about issues? In fact, I was a bit confused about this situation in my life. And anytime I got confused about wisdom, I go to King Solomon in the bible to seek answers because he received the gift of wisdom as well. So, I went to the book of proverbs to seek answers. And to my great surprise, I realized that I have not been in error at all and that I have been right instead. I saw more scriptures that ascribed wisdom to those who received counsel than those who gave them. These were some of the scriptures I saw:

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in the abundance of counsellors, there is victory. Proverbs 11:14

Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21

Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counsellors, they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance. Proverbs 20:18

Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. Proverbs 4:13

For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in the abundance of counsellors, there is victory. Proverbs 24:6

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10

A LOGICAL ANALYSIS ON THE MATTER.

This argument alludes to the “Meno Paradox” in Plato’s dialogue.

If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, then – 

  1. Before we can begin to discuss wisdom, there must be the fear of God.
  2. We know that this God is a spirit.
  3. So wisdom is spiritual and it is a gift of the Spirit.
  4. Bible also makes us understand that the Spirit of God knows all things. (Socrates used the term anamnesis to mean that the soul is eternal, knows everything, and only has to “recollect” in order to learn)
  5. So if you have the spirit of God inside you, then you know all things.
  6. If you know all things, then inquiry or seeking counsel is either impossible or unnecessary.

Why is inquiry then impossible or unnecessary?

Inquiry is unnecessary because there is no purpose or sense in searching for something you already know. For example, if you know that 1+1 =2, it is unnecessary to search for 1+1 because you already know the answer.

Inquiry is impossible because if you don’t know that 1+1=2, it is impossible to search for the answer because even if you find 2 you won’t be able to tell that 2 is the answer because you don’t know 2. 

This argument can be reformulated as follows:

  1. If you know what you’re looking for, inquiry is unnecessary.
  2. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, inquiry is impossible.
  3. Therefore, inquiry is either unnecessary or impossible.

The Theory of Recollection

If inquiry or seeking counsel is impossible or unnecessary for a man filed with the spirit of wisdom because he already knows all things, why does he inquire or seek counsel then?

When a wise man or a man filled with God’s Spirit seeks counsel, it is really not to inquire or to learn anything new, but instead to recollect what he already knows. In other words, counselling helps the wise to activate, recover or revive his own ideas that are latent or dormant in him. The giver of the counsel is just acting as a midwife helping the wise man to recollect his own innate knowledge or ideas. Counselling helps the wise to think and be smart. A person is able to receive counsel because he is wise in spirit. So anytime he comes into contact with the solution or the answer, he is able to identify it by the help of the Spirit in him who knows all things. To the wise, learning is a process of recollection. Learning is gaining consciousness of ones preexisting ideas or knowledge. Learning is the occurrence of illumination. Illumination is the act or instance of supplying light to something or bringing clarity to something. That something is your preexisting ideas or knowledge that is latent in your spirit. 

Finally, in proverbs 23:9 Solomon said, “Do not waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.”  This is true because the fool does not have the fear of God or the spirit of God in him. So there is no wisdom in the fool to discern wise counsel. Even if he encounters wisdom he or she is not able to identify wisdom because the fool does not even know wisdom to be able to identify it.

So yes, I was amazed by my discovery, seeing the bible arrogating wisdom more to those who received counsel instead of those who gave them. No wonder Jesus said words like:

“Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

“Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” 

“But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.”

References:

https://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/menopar.htm

https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/meno/summary/

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/philosophy/socrates-and-the-menos-paradox-philosophy-essay.php

COMMENT, I love to hear what you think.