Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom are two words whose definitions are often intertwined and confused with. However, not everyone knows these two terms have a big difference in meaning.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Knowledge is accumulating facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education.
  2. Wisdom is applying knowledge in practical ways and making sound decisions based on insight, empathy, and understanding.
  3. Knowledge is essential, but wisdom development requires self-awareness, reflection, and the ability to discern right from wrong.

Knowledge vs Wisdom

The difference between knowledge and wisdom lies in their definition. Knowledge is when one acquires information through reading or listening. Most of the time, people gain their first knowledge in school when they start studying. Anyone can acquire knowledge.

On the other side, when one uses the pieces of information acquired, or what we call knowledge, to make decisions and judgments, it then becomes wisdom. Wisdom is in a higher category compared to knowledge.

Knowledge vs Wisdom

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However, one cannot have the wisdom or be called wise if they do not have knowledge. And one’s knowledge is not enough if they do not use it to become wise.

This means that the two terms must come together hand-in-hand for someone to make good decisions in life.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonKnowledgeWisdom
Use of informationStore and acquire informationApply the information to make decisions
How to acquireRead books, listen to classesUse knowledge in daily experience
Use knowledge in daily experienceCan easily change over timeTimeless and limitless
ApplicationUsed to answer exams and common questionsUses to make a judgement and wise decisions
Who has them?Anyone who reads or goes to schoolPeople who know how to use knowledge properly


What is Knowledge?

Knowledge is the term used for acquired information. These pieces of information can be gained through experience, learning, reading and listening to classes.

This information should be retained in one’s long-term memory so it can be considered knowledge. People who read a lot and know about a lot of different things under different topics are considered knowledgeable.

A scientist has a large knowledge of science, and a doctor has a lot of knowledge about medicine.

As people grow older, they gain more and more knowledge about their field and also about other topics.

Almost everyone can have the knowledge; anyone who reads or goes to school can be considered knowledgeable. Knowledge is elementary to acquire as long as one is willing to learn.


What is Wisdom?

Wisdom is when one uses their knowledge to good use and applies it to their daily lives. This can be applied when choosing between different options or when considering if specific actions are good or bad.

Wisdom is usually paired with moral aspects. To be wise, one must always choose what is right based on the facts and knowledge one has.

They cannot have wisdom if they do not use their knowledge correctly.

To be wise, one must learn how to think and act in accordance with what their society believes is correct and proper through the use of their acquired knowledge.


Main Differences Between Knowledge and Wisdom

  1. Knowledge is the result of gaining information, and wisdom is the result of using knowledge in daily life applications. If one reads, one learns and acquires knowledge, but once the person uses their knowledge to make decisions, like knowing what is right and wrong, then it becomes wisdom.
  2. Knowledge can be acquired through reading and learning, while wisdom can be acquired with knowledge and experience. Wisdom is greatly dependent on knowledge. For one to be knowledgeable, one needs to read and learn. Having the right resources, such as books and a mentor, will be enough to gain knowledge. But wisdom can be acquired through enough knowledge and daily life experience to apply their knowledge, like in choosing between two options and in judging different aspects of life.
  3. Knowledge can easily change over time, but wisdom is timeless. One learns different things daily, therefore their knowledge changes very fast. Today, one might know about the meaning of a house; in the next week, they may already know how to build a house. Wisdom is, on the other hand, very timeless. One cannot be wise and lose wisdom the next day. Once a person is wise, there is a considerable chance that they or will be wise for the rest of their life. This, of course, needs to be accompanied by constant learning and acquiring knowledge.
  4. One uses their knowledge to answer the common question, but one uses their wisdom in judging and making wise decisions. Knowledge can be used in many different settings; in answering an exam, one has to have knowledge about the subject. Knowledge is also used to answer common questions and share ideas with others. Wisdom is used when there are already different choices or moral aspects that come into consideration, like when choosing between 2 options that would result in different outcomes or when judging whether a specific action is right or wrong.
  5. Almost everyone can be knowledgeable, but not everyone can be wise. Everyone can acquire knowledge by gaining information. But not everyone who is knowledgeable can be wise. If they do not put their knowledge to good use and do not apply it in their daily lives, they cannot be considered wise.
Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom
  1. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/09534810010378605/full/html
  2. https://philpapers.org/rec/MAXFKT-3
  3. https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1890/1051-0761(2000)010[1275:TEKAWO]2.0.CO;2
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