This post is inspired by the point James C. made in a comment on the previous post:
"...a WIS bonus would not necessarily be consistent with some of the darker or more absurd aspects of religion. How would a parishioner's higher wisdom nudge them to build a cairn on a hill to call it a mountain or to march on Jerusalem or bomb airplanes? I think any meaningful and game-able rules for religion must recognize that it's not all about enlightenment and transcendence."
I'm not dead certain of James' position here, but I'm guessing there is a certain subtext - that is, that there is no real wisdom in building a cairn on a hill, as occurred in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain (I got the title wrong yesterday), but that such an action is more of an emotional response to an apparently silly premise. The minister in the film appealed to the emotions of the congregation to rally them, and the congregation responded emotionally ... not with great gobs of 'wisdom.'
I beg to differ with James ... not with regards to the film, but with regards to the definition of wisdom as generally understood in this post-liberalism world. I quote this from wikipedia:
"Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to choose or act or inspire to consistently produce the optimum results with a minimum of time, energy or thought." [emphasis added by me]
I rush to argue that this has not always been the perception of wisdom, and that it really ought not to be the perception of wisdom in a world ruled by magic and existing gods. 'Optimum' is a veritable peasant's stew with regards to what could be considered good or not where it comes to the intervention of divine beings, and the best way to address that intervention.
To elaborate, consider the juxtaposition between Presbyterians of Scotland and the worshippers of Yog-Sothoth of the Cthulhu mythos. The Presbyterians believe without question that the purpose of life is to work hard, make something of yourself, be a contribution to the general welfare and have a subdued and reverent attitude towards the divine. This in spite of the inevitable end of the world, in which case the good shall be selected from the herd and granted everlasting life.
Compare this with the worshippers of Yog-Sothoth, who also believe in the inevitable end of the world, but with the understanding that the best that can be hoped for is that the true believers will be blessed by being killed quickly, as opposed to the rest of us who will take a long time to die. As such, the fatalists of Yog-Sothoth perceive there is nothing to be done about this world ... it is all wasted effort.
From the standpoint of a liberal man living in the present century, I find humour in both belief-systems ... though of course I am expected to nod sagely at the one and laugh openly at the other. That is because there are several million who accept the former, which also happens to encourage them to become rich and powerful, and there are no visible persons who accept the latter ... which in any case would be expected to drop in social status. This, the Presbyterians say, proves the worth of their religion ... but of course we'll see what they say when they're being played with by a shoggoth while dripping pus from the massive boils covering their bodies.
So what exactly is the definition of wisdom here? Which is the optimum course?
For that I must return to the Latin word, sapientia, which is generally defined as 'wisdom' or 'knowledge' but really, in context, is better understood as "to be made aware." The word is the root of 'Sapient,' which apart from being the name of an Oregon hip pop artist more or less describes a creature who has the intelligence to BE aware.
There is a more accurate relationship between the word 'wise' and the word 'sapient' than there is with the modern definition that breaks down to 'right thinking.' The latter influence upon wisdom, as a question of recognizing the difference between right and wrong, is a liberal-influenced point of view ... it's another modification brought about by the change in thought I described in a post recently. To the Medieval or Renaissance individual, the difference between right and wrong was what the religious leader said it was, not something you obtained from your own deliberation on the matter. While there were individuals in the world who were deliberating privately, men like Abelard or Occam or Galileo, the ordinary congregational occupant of a church could not be said to share their company. The church-goer was thus clear of liberal pushes-and-pulls, and thus it could be said of their awareness, or their sapience, or their wisdom, that what the church leader said was a wise course of action WAS a wise course of action. Ipso facto, and with no room for argument.
Moreover, in taking up the title of this post, this position on the matter of religion and right and wrong obliterates entirely the structure of the alignment system, which is based after all upon liberal ideas of 'good' and 'evil.' How many times has it been said that Adolf Hitler would fit perfectly in the position of lawful evil upon the table? And if I were to point out that the people of Germany were very much taken with Hitler during his reign, and considered him very GOOD, how quickly would others rush to point out that the people of Germany were deluded and therefore completely in the wrong with regards to right behavior? Very quickly, I should think. In reality, however, perceptions of who are deluded and who are truly good is a matter of who happens to be in power today ... and is just as equally a question of who in particular you ask.
The correct definition of pre-liberal 'good' and pre-liberal 'evil' is the difference between Us and Them. We are good. They are not. We are aware of the true nature of the universe. They are not. And if our spiritual leader, the minister in our church, believes that a cairn must be built upon the heights of hill in order to improve the quality of the community, then build a cairn we shall! For the minister has made us AWARE of right behavior, and now we shall march off and make right the world the way only sapient, wise beings can.
I can't be certain if James argued for or against this point. It seemed the latter, but perhaps he hadn't considered the whole picture. In either case, the point here is that wisdom is a measure of the awareness an individual has of the 'truth' as revealed to him or her by the Holy Word ... whatever the religion that individual may be inclined to accept ... and not any silly conception of balancing the pros and cons of a situation. This is what makes it SO hard to argue with people who have religion - they do not argue on a playing field most liberal-educated persons would understand. And it makes it perfectly clear why 'wisdom' is the perfect stat for the cleric, and not for some other invented class like 'scientist' or 'free-thinker,' neither of whom truly exist even as late as the Renaissance world.
To end this off, remarking on the last sentence above, consider the six meditations of Descartes, written just before 1650, the time my world takes place. Consider that the man made an amazing leap forward with a comprehension of his senses that continues to astound young philosophers today. But consider also that in the same six meditations, Descartes is also guilty of the worst kind of cognitive dissonance, in that he must argue for God's existence, because without question in Descartes' mind God must exist. The argument Descartes makes would ensure his failure in any modern university philosophy course, but that doesn't matter. Descartes is a product of his time, and serves as a reminder to all those who preach the wonder of the great minds of the pre-modern/pre-industrial age; from Copernicus to Newton, they all believed in God. Unquestionably.