In our quest for a meaningful life, we need both knowledge and wisdom.
Knowledge is easy to access, thanks to the relentless march of scientific progress and, of course, the internet. All the information we need is available—the sum of human knowledge, on tap. More than we could absorb in a thousand lifetimes.
When it comes to knowledge, especially scientific knowledge, the more recent, the better. A medical textbook that was published 6 months ago is far preferable to one from 1995. And a medical textbook from 1895 would be just about useless today, or even harmful. Bloodletting, anyone?
But wisdom is another story. With wisdom, age is good. Not always, of course, but if we ignore ancient sources of wisdom just because they’re “old” (or culturally incongruent with our modern worldview), we’re missing out. The deepest human truths are timeless, and some very smart people figured them out a long time ago.
Yes, we may have to do some extra mental labor to read Marcus Aurelius, the Bible, or the Tao Te Ching, but it’s effort well spent. Don’t just swim on the surface of the ocean—dive deep.