Kansas City Freethinker

Personal Blog of Greg Swartz

Home | Greg's Picks | Topical Menu

Is Ancient Wisdom Wise?

How many times have you heard someone tell you that something is true or should be respected because it is "ancient wisdom"? Many preachers have told their parishioners that some concept is the "ancient wisdom of the bible" assuming then the truth of whatever they are saying. Ancient or at least old philosophers are studied, revered and compared. That is fine as long as one does not assume that the philosophies of the past are necessarily true. Studying older philosophies and philosophers is an important subject, because it helps us understand how we got to where we are today. But, one must always be just as skeptical of the validity of those older philosophies as we should be of modern philosophy.

An appeal to "ancient wisdom" is an attempt to convince another of the truthfulness of a particular proposition simply because it is old but without proof of the truth of the underlying facts related to the issue. It is a known logical fallacy and arises from the basic misconception that previous generations had superior wisdom to modern humans, when, in reality, ancient persons DID NOT understand nearly as much about reality as we do today.

Science has disproven much of what formerly was assumed to be true and proved new things that ancient humans never dreamed of. So, much of what is passed off as "ancient wisdom" isn't correct or wise at all. In short: wisdom based upon ancient misunderstandings of reality is no wisdom at all. We should know that their reasoning is flawed due to the fact that many things that we understand now were not understood in those ancient times.

Not only does what I write here apply to ancient philosophy, it applies especially to ancient religious wisdom. The greatest problem with ancient religious thought is that the conclusions of ancient religious thinkers - the prophets and priests - are attributed to whatever god they worship. For religions arising from Abraham, their god is omnipotent, omnicient, omnipresent, onmi-everything and immutable. Their god cannot ever have been wrong, so whatever was put into the mind of God, no matter how wrong, cannot actually be wrong, according to religious thought. One result of the alleged immutability of scriptures is some pretty weird arguments trying to prove that the bible opposed slavery and respected women as equal to men.

Comments are welcome, but they cannot be posted directly to this site. You can send your comments to my email account. If they are relevant and not spam or trolling, I may or may not respond or post them. Please let me know, if you do not want me to post your comments. Comments about anything else on this website can be sent to that address as well.

Have a great day!

Last revised on March 4, 2024.