Walzer Critiques Use of Wisdom

In Brief

In a well-attended Divinity School speech last night, Princeton Professor Michael Walzer offered a critique of wisdom and prudence and their roles in political affairs.

Speaking to about 100 people in Andover Hall, Walzer quoted liberally from the Book of Proverbs and other biblical "wisdom writings," seeking to "show both the wisdom of wisdom and its failings."

Walzer, who received his PhD from Harvard in 1961, and taught in the Government Department here from 1966 to 1980, delivered the William James Lecture on Religious Experience, entitled "Biblical Wisdom: The Value and Limits of Political Prudence."

Walzer discussed the evolution and role of wisdom and wise men and women--advisors with special expertise in political and social matters--in biblical times.

Walzer, a prominent social critic, is a professor of social science at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study.


Students in Harvard's most popular course, Moral Reasoning 22, "justice," might recognize his name. An excerpt from one of Walzer's books, Spheres of Justice, is part of this week's required coursebook reading.