The Moral Imagination -  Michael Matheson Miller
The Moral Imagination
Ep. 45 Paul McLaughlin PsyD, Mark R. McMinn PhD: Can Wisdom be Cultivated?

Ep. 45 Paul McLaughlin PsyD, Mark R. McMinn PhD: Can Wisdom be Cultivated?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In this episode I speak with two psychologists, Paul McLaughlin PsyD and Mark R. McMinn PhD, about their book A Time for Wisdom. The provide a unique perspective by examining wisdom from a psychological viewpoint.

They divide it into 4 categories, both to explain and provide a guide to develop wisdom in our lives.


  • Factual Knowledge,Know-How, self-knowledge and what they call “Enriched Knowledge,” the core of wisdom.


  • Not only from material things, but from ideas and ideology. Detachment enables mental freedom, strengthens our capacity grieve, and is the bridge between knowledge and tranquility


  • Not apathy, but shifting our inner equilibrium, and helps us regulate our emotions

  • Tranquility helps us to cultivate awe, gratitude, peace, and what C.S. Lewis calls “reasonable emotions.”


  • Ability to go beyond ourselves and avoid the temptation to individualism

We discuss a number of themes including:

  • Is wisdom a state or a trait? Can it be developed? Is it domain dependent?

  • The tension between solidity and fluidity, between rigid thinking and relativism. How do we keep our minds open and not fall into what Benedict XVI has called the “dictatorship of relativism.”

  • The positive and negative parts of Jordan Peterson’s idea about exploring our dark side compared to mystical Catholic writers

  • Psychedelics as ersatz religion

  • You are not every thought you have

  • Anxiety

  • Obsessive Compulsive thoughts

  • Forgiveness and the goodness of being

  • Positive psychology

  • Narcisism

  • Mike Tyson’s theory that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

  • How to think about increases anxiety and depression

  • My critique of the Individualism / Collectivism dichotomy

  • Tocqueville’s analysis of individualism and centralization

  • Can you measure wisdom?

  • Does wisdom increase over time?

  • Aristotle’s concept of phronesis

  • Gnosticism and Materialism as an obstacles to wisdom

  • Teleology — ends and purposes. Aristotle — the human person has an end and purpose to give you self direction

  • Transcendentals — goodness, truth, beauty

  • How suffering and sitting with people who suffer helps us grow in wisdom

  • The tension between holding onto your deeply held beliefs and yet remaining open to new ideas

  • Confirmation Bias vs. Epistemic Humility

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The Moral Imagination -  Michael Matheson Miller
The Moral Imagination
Welcome to the Moral Imagination Podcast.
The overarching theme of my podcast is what it means to be a human person and what makes for a meaningful and good life.
We will discuss philosophy of the human person, culture, religion, social philosophy, and many other related topics, like education, learning, economics, food, technology, artificial intelligence, and intellectual history. My goal is to interact with ideas and people whose work I find challenging, and intellectually and socially important.