In reflecting upon Aristotle’s Being qua being, especially his demarcation of wisdom from mere experiential and technical knowledge, it becomes compelling to juxtapose his perspectives with the more fluid conceptions of knowledge for modern days, proposed by Nietzsche and Freud. Nietzsche’s theories, emphasising the subjective nature of knowledge, alongside Freud’s insights into the unconscious dimensions of human comprehension, present a stark contrast to Aristotle’s more structured paradigm. Aristotle delineates wisdom as a form of knowledge superior to others, stating, “For the wise man must not be ordered but must order, and he must not obey another, but the less wise must obey him” (Metaphysics, Book 1, Chapter 2). This hierarchical and seemingly rigid distinction appears less pertinent in contemporary discourse, where the boundaries between various domains of knowledge are increasingly permeable and intertwined. My argument posits that while Aristotle’s framework offers a valuable basis for understanding wisdom, a modern interpretation of wisdom should not only incorporate a philosophical understanding of universal truths but also embrace the dynamic and ethical application of knowledge in varied contexts. Wisdom, in today’s world, goes beyond simple comprehension or command; it encapsulates adaptability, cooperative engagement, and the sophisticated application of knowledge in addressing the complex challenges that define our times.

Aristotle establishes a clear hierarchy between experience, knowledge, and wisdom, positing that while experience is valuable for practical action, it falls short of constituting true knowledge or wisdom. He notes, “With a view to action, experience seems in no respect inferior to art… But yet we think that knowledge and understanding belong to art rather than to experience…” (Metaphysics, 132). Here, experience is depicted as the practical application of skills, a necessary but insufficient component of deeper understanding. In contrast, knowledge, particularly in forms like art or technical mastery, is portrayed as encompassing a comprehension of underlying principles and causes.

Furthermore, Aristotle demarcates knowledge as a progression beyond experience, implying a deep understanding of the ‘why’ behind things. He states, “For men of experience know that the thing is so, but do not know why, while the others know the ‘why’ and the cause” (Metaphysics, 132). Here, knowledge represents a transition from simply acknowledging facts to understanding their foundational principles and broader implications. This includes both ‘technē,’ a kind of knowledge relevant to making things (craftsmanship or art), and ‘epistēmē,’ scientific knowledge. These forms of knowledge are not just about knowing facts or processes; they involve understanding the principles and causes behind them.

Wisdom (Sophia), according to Aristotle, is the pinnacle in this hierarchy. In discussing the nature of sciences and their quest for understanding, he observes, “Clearly then Wisdom is knowledge about certain principles and causes” (Metaphysics, Book 1, Chapter 1). This assertion posits wisdom not as a mere collection of knowledge but as a synthesis of practical know-how, theoretical understanding, and philosophical introspection. It is through this synthesis that one apprehends the fundamental nature of reality. In Aristotle’s philosophical construct, wisdom thus signifies a deep and comprehensive grasp of universal truths and causes, transcending the limitations of both practical experience and technical knowledge. Wisdom is characterised by an ability to teach and understand the causes in every branch of knowledge. He views wisdom as the highest form of knowledge, one that seeks to understand the ultimate causes and principles of all things.

In the modern world, the distinction between experiential knowledge and wisdom, as outlined by Aristotle, seems less rigid. This perspective is further challenged by the contributions of thinkers like Nietzsche and Freud, who bring unique insights into the nature of knowledge. Nietzsche’s concept of perspectivalism suggests that all knowledge is subjective and shaped by our viewpoints, challenging the idea of objective or absolute wisdom (The Atlas Society; Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press). Similarly, Freud’s deterministic view of the unconscious mind and the role of instincts in shaping human behaviour highlight the complexities and unconscious elements in our understanding of knowledge and wisdom (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy). These perspectives imply that in the modern context, where knowledge is often seen as more fluid and multifaceted, Aristotle’s structured approach to wisdom may not fully encapsulate the diverse and subjective nature of understanding. Technological advancements and the widespread accessibility of information have facilitated the acquisition of deep knowledge in various fields, transcending traditional academic boundaries. This democratisation of knowledge hints at a more integrated relationship between experience, technical expertise, and wisdom, aligning with the contemporary educational emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches and problem-solving skills.

Furthermore, Nietzsche’s criticism of the concept of a predetermined human telos or purpose stands in opposition to Aristotle’s view of wisdom as the pursuit of universal and objective truths. Nietzsche’s perspective suggests that the potential for human excellence and virtue is not a fixed or singular path but rather a diverse and evolving journey shaped by individual experiences and perspectives.

In conclusion, Aristotle’s hierarchical approach among experience, knowledge, and wisdom in Metaphysics, while foundation, is increasingly at odds with contemporary views and deemed not plausible for the modern world. Nietzsche’s critique, especially his rejection of objective moral values and advocacy for individualistic value creation, challenges Aristotle’s wisdom hierarchy (Philosophy Now). The Übermensch concept, focusing on individual value creation through self-justified actions, stands in stark contrast to Aristotle’s view of wisdom as understanding universal principles (Philosophy Now). Thus, a modern reinterpretation is warranted. Contemporary wisdom should merge a philosophical understanding of universal truths with dynamic, ethical knowledge application in various contexts. Wisdom today surpasses mere comprehension or command, embodying adaptability, cooperation, and innovative application of knowledge for complex challenges. Thus, my argument, therefore, aligns more with Nietzsche’s vision, advocating a nuanced, individualistic wisdom approach for the 21st century.


  1. Ansell-Pearson, K. (2012). Nietzsche’s Übermensch: A Hero of Our Time. Philosophy Now. Retrieved from
  2. Thornton, S. (2020). Sigmund Freud (1856—1939). In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from
  3. Clark, M. (1990). Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from