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What does Collective Wisdom have to do with Wisdom ?

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Andler Daniel

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What does Collective Wisdom have to do with Wisdom ?

La sagesse collective : principes et mécanismes

Colloque des 22-23 mai 2008, organisé par l'Institut du Monde Contemporain du Collège de France, sous la direction du Professeur Jon Elster.

Part I : Collective Wisdom: Definition and Examples

Intervention de Daniel Andler, le 22 mai 2008 :

What does Collective Wisdom have to do with Wisdom ?
Nothing at all, it might seem at first, for wisdom implies sovereignty over what depends on one, while collective wisdom (in the sense under consideration) implies renouncement. Yet wisdom also calls for a higher form of surrender: the wise person abdicates certain privileges of rationality, of ordinary reason. However he does so while maintaining self-dominion, a higher form of knowledge or awareness. So the question becomes: Does collective wisdom go together with some form of dominion, knowledge or awareness?

In one sense it does. The individual participant can hold both a first-degree judgment and a second-degree judgment that his first-degree judgment may well be superseded by the group's better judgment. Likewise, the group at large can make a conscious decision to abide by the outcome of an exercise of collective wisdom. But isn't a stronger sense required? Is it not that very entity which is the bearer of collective wisdom which must also retain mastery? What sort of self, then, grants collective wisdom self-dominion?



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