It has been said: "Wisdom is rooted in the figurative". I need to write a short, one page essay on this. Explain what this might mean.

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure who actually said this - so we're working without context here.  If I were explaining this quote without context - I would put it in the context of something familiar - namely - my life.

As a teacher, I've found that sometimes the most straight forward, step-by-step explanations of lessons go in students right ears and directly out the left.  What often seems easy to me makes no sense to my students.  More importantly, what I find important is usually not so important to my students.  I have discovered that the key to effective lessons - is making information relevant to students' lives.  And I do this through analogies and, essentially, figurative stories.

OK - so I understand that most students do not enjoy sitting down for 10 minutes every single day and writing journal entries on prompts that may or may not be interesting to them.  Kids who don't like to write especially loathe this activity.  So I have explained to them, figuratively, that writing a 10 minute journal entry every day does to the brain what taking a 10 minute jog every day does to the body.  Yes, when you are out of shape, it hurts a little at first - and it isn't fun, and you might jog really slowly.  But the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the easier it becomes, the more enjoyable the activity is.  And even if you aren't a runner, per se, but you are involved in other sports, a 10 minute jog every single day is going to get your entire body in better shape overall, thereby making you better at whatever sport you play.  It is the same way with the 10 minute write.  Getting better at this exercise is going to increase your overall ability to communicate - not just in writing and not just in English class.

Kind of a long example - but what I'm trying to say is that the above explanation WORKS.  Students get it.  And their attitudes toward writing, slowly but surely, change.  In that, I have effectively proven a little bit of my teaching "wisdom" through presenting a lesson in the figurative.

Perhaps you can think of your own example - or something that someone else has done for you.

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are any number of ways an individual could choose to interpret and apply this quotation. I'll offer you one perspective, but I'm sure others will be able to offer you additional perspectives as well.

True wisdom appears when an individual is able to transfer thinking and learning from one situation to another situation. A person can be exceptionally knowledgeable about a certain topic, but unless that knowledge can then offer perspective on other topics this person has not achieved wisdom.  A wise person is able to analyze situations and topics and apply learning and thinking from analogous elements of other situations and topics to solve problems.

This connects to the idea of the figurative in several ways. For example, consider the term figurative language. This device is used when a writer/speaker means something different than the actual denotation of the words used. For example, the phrase "I'm hungry enough to eat horse." This isn't meant literally, but as an audience we understand that this person means she is very hungry. We have to think beyond the dictionary definitions of these words to comprehend the meaning. Wisdom is similar in that we must think beyond the situation or topic in front of us and consider our thinking/learning from other topics/situations as well. 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It’s interesting that if you do a quick web search of the quotation, there are a great many queries that have to do with religion.  Perhaps, this might be an area that can be delved into as the paper progresses.  The quote intimates a spiritual component as being present and active in the quote.  The difference between “knowledge” and “wisdom” implies that the latter contains a greater and more profound sense of understanding.  The idea of how the symbolic contains an understanding that implies a great deal more of comprehension lends itself to the spiritual realm.  If wisdom is rooted in the figurative, then it exists in something that is spiritual, not necessarily material, but implies a great deal more than what could be seen as tangible.  For some reason, I am reminded of the ending to the film, “Schindler’s List.”  When we see both the actors and the survivors place stones on Oskar Schindler’s grave, there is much wisdom present.  It is a figurative action.  There is little present in the mere act of placing a stone or even in a stone.  Yet, there are figurative and symbolic meanings at which the action itself or the tangible can only begins to uncover.  This might be an example of how there is wisdom in that which only the subjective grasps, proving the value of the figurative.

picturesque | Student

To understand this 1st you need to understand what figurative is?

As i understand it i think it means that when a description is made in a metaphoric way or using the devices of personification, simile, allegory and symbolism etc then there is wisdom inside hidden in those texts or descriptions. The wisdom is described using these devices.


picturesque | Student

It is a fact that for a long time wisdom has been conveyed through the usage of figurative devices. And there have been Holy Scriptures which used the figurative devices to convey more than one meanings.


ntibane | Student

Wisdom should mean that eternal brightness. Figurative is not saying something direct - but rather in a more hidden and yet very meaningful way.

I will say that what this essay question means is that to have wisdom means being able to look beyond events. Beyond word and analyzing each and every word to it's fuller meaning. If you you are able to do this, then you should be considered as a person who has got wisdom.

picturesque | Student

It also implies that when something wise is said or described it is not described in a simple way but it is described in a metaphorical way or in a figurative way.