Sophia (wisdom)

Sophia (Greek: σοφία sophía 'wisdom') is a central idea in Hellenistic philosophy and religion, Platonism, Gnosticism, and Christian theology. Originally carrying a meaning of "cleverness, skill", the later meaning of the term, close to the meaning of Phronesis ("wisdom, intelligence"), was significantly shaped by the term philosophy ("love of sophia") as used by Plato.

In Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christianity, Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) is an expression for God the Son (Jesus Christ) in the Trinity (as in the dedication of the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople) and, rarely, for the Holy Spirit.

References to "Wisdom" (Sophia) in the Old Testament translate to the Hebrew term Chokhmah.

The Ancient Greek word sophia (σοφία, sophía) is the abstract noun of σοφός (sophós), which variously translates to "clever, skillful, intelligent, wise". These words share the same Proto-Indo-European root as the Latin verb sapere (lit. "to taste; discern"), whence sapientia. The noun σοφία as "skill in handicraft and art" is Homeric and in Pindar is used to describe both Hephaistos and Athena.

Before Plato, the term for "sound judgement, intelligence, practical wisdom" and so on, such qualities as are ascribed to the Seven Sages, was phronesis (φρόνησις, phrónēsis), from phren (φρήν, phrēn, lit. "mind"), while sophia referred to technical skill.

The term philosophia (φῐλοσοφῐ́ᾱ, philosophíā, lit. "love of wisdom") was primarily used after the time of Plato, following his teacher Socrates, though it has been said that Pythagoras was the first to call himself a philosopher. This understanding of philosophia permeates Plato's dialogues, especially the Republic. In that work, the leaders of the proposed utopia are to be philosopher kings: rulers who are lovers of wisdom. According to Plato in Apology, Socrates himself was dubbed "the wisest man of Greece" by the Pythian Oracle. Socrates defends this verdict in Apology to the effect that he, at least, knows that he knows nothing. Socratic skepticism is contrasted with the approach of the sophists, who are attacked in Gorgias for relying merely on eloquence. Cicero in De Oratore later criticized Plato for his separation of wisdom from eloquence. Sophia is named as one of the four cardinal virtues (in place of phronesis) in Plato's Protagoras.

This page was last edited on 25 April 2018, at 11:59.
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