Should the knowledge-based economy be a savant or a sage? Wisdom and socially intelligent innovation

David Rooney*, Bernard McKenna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Discourse about knowledge-based economies rarely moves beyond the commercialization of science and engineering, and is locked in the discursive limits of functionalism. We argue that these discourses limit the scope of what knowledge-based economies might achieve because they are uninformed by an adequate conception of knowledge. In particular, knowledge management and knowledge-based economy discourse has not included the axiological dimension of knowledge that leads to wisdom. Taking an axiological perspective, we can discuss policy frameworks aimed at producing the social structures needed to bring fully formed and fully functioning knowledge societies into being. We argue that while the dominant discourse of industrial modernity remains rationalist, functionalist, utilitarian and technocratic, knowledge-based economies will resemble a savant rather than a sage. A wisdom-based renaissance of humanistic epistemology is needed to avoid increasing social dysfunction and a lack of wisdom in complex technological societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-323
Number of pages17
JournalPrometheus (United Kingdom)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Aristotle
  • Communicative action
  • Ethics
  • Humanistic epistemology
  • Knowledge-based economy
  • Technocratic functionalism
  • Wisdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Should the knowledge-based economy be a savant or a sage? Wisdom and socially intelligent innovation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this