Sabrina Ebbersmeyer, The Wise as a Laughing-Stock in Humanist Thought.

Many Humanists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries attacked sharply two traditional types of intellectuals, i.e. the university professor and the priest. While they ridiculed the former for being ivory-tower, they mocked the latter for being prone to hypocrisy. In a more general view, the mockery of the Humanists refers to the ideal of contemplation and its corresponding life form, the vita contemplativa. However, the wise remained an ideal even in Humanist thought. Does this imply that there is such a thing as a Humanist wise? And if so, what are his or her distinctive features?


The Copenhagen Intellectual History Seminar

Fall 2014: Wisdom and Its Practitioners

Wisdom is a multifaceted concept with various meanings in philosophy, theology, literature, religion, the arts and psychology. As such, wisdom denotes an enormous field. In a series of talks we focus not on the object of wisdom, but on the agents who seek, possess or lose wisdom. Although the wise might be mostly an ideal, we still find him or her depicted in various ways. What does it imply to be wise? Is the wise person a knowledgeable or an experienced person? How can wisdom be acquired? Can it be taught? Can it be lost? Can it be transformed? Can it transform the agent him- or herself? How did the understanding of the wise person change over time? We would like to address these kinds of question from a historical and interdisciplinary perspective through the seminars held in the fall of 2014.

The papers are held at the University of Copenhagen, The Faculty of Humanities, Southern Campus, Karen Blixens Vej 4, 2300 Copenhagen S; For further information, please contact the organizers: Associate Professor Leo Catana ( and Associate Professor Sabrina Ebbersmeyer ( For The Copenhagen Intellectual History Seminar, please see