I'm curious as to whether wisdom is truly united as a mental factor, or whether some people can be very wise, yet very ignorant in other aspects. Basically, my question is: is wisdom a single entity, or made up of parts?

I feel like the answer needs to be both, to some degree. As, if it were completely divisible then there would be no such thing as wisdom, there would be nothing unifying these parts. And, if it were completely indivisible and unified then it would never change, increase, etc.

Perhaps the real issue is whether wisdom aggregates into a collected mental factor.

Any thoughts?

Thank you.

  • See especially last part on answer on What is the difference between Dhithi (view) and Panna (wisdom)?
    – user11235
    Oct 23, 2017 at 16:29
  • Wisdom can certainly gather into a collected mental factor or it can be a result (byproduct) with becoming ONE with another's wisdom. The main issue, I'd suggest, is a difference between Western minds/souls/destinies and others.
    – theDoctor
    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:44

4 Answers 4


In Buddhism, wisdom or special wisdom or omniscience, is direct and deep understanding of principle (principles?) behind all phenomena.

In one sense, this wisdom is universal and applies to all problems and situations. This, however, does not mean that Buddha would necessarily know how to change the tire or pilot a helicopter without training.


As a mental faculty, wisdom is one thing. It is the capacity to discern how things contribute to suffering or, otherwise, contribute to freedom from suffering. The suttas say:

And what is the faculty of wisdom? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising & passing away — noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. He discerns, as it has come to be: 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.' This is called the faculty of wisdom. SN 48.10

However, there are many aspects to suffering because suffering or disharmony is both internal & external therefore the wisdom faculty may not have every possible wisdom that is available. For example, a stream-enterer may have the wisdom to resolve basic internal suffering but may not have the wisdom to help other people or deal with social conflict.

In conclusion, the wisdom faculty is one thing but the types of knowledges that can form part of the wisdom faculty can be many; similar to how a cabinet can store many medicines but not include every medicine.


I'd lean toward wisdom being divisible. It's common knowledge, not limited to Buddhism, that wise people tend to know what they don't know. The wise are usually humble and know their limitations.

I'm new on this StackExchange site so apologies if this is not an appropriate response.


Wisdom (pannindriya), of course, is a form of knowledge, a very important form of knowledge, but knowledge nonetheless. When wisdom is viewed as a mental factor (cetasika) of a moment of consciousness (citta), then that citta has a certain quality and not necessarily a simple quality. Indeed, I would suggest that none of the 52 cetasika are simple. All belief and knowledge are generated or caused by sankhara (schemata, in the terminology of Immanuel Kant). It does not make sense to say that knowledge or wisdom can be “united.” Nor does it make sense to say that knowledge or wisdom can be a “single entity.” A sankhara is a set of mental dispositions that makes it possible for us to make sense of experience, including meaningless experience. Only by means of sankhara do we make sense of anything. We cannot perform an action unless it makes sense to us. Wisdom does not “aggregate” and cetasika do not “collect.” Knowledge of any importance is necessarily complex.

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