There is the common fool and the big fool.
The ordinary fool is weak, mindless, clumsy and numerous, but the big fool is unique, gifted, intelligent, educated, creative...
The big fool works passionately to do good things – unfortunately, often without reflecting enough, without thinking through their deeper meaning and long-term consequence and without an examined sense of values or priorities.
Big fool, big loss:
Sharp intelligence, wounding blunder.
High knowledge, feet of clay.
Great wisdom, great sorrow.
At a personal level, good sense (not so common) recognises that I am a fool:
if I ignore reality around me, while looking high and far, by lack of attention or arrogance;
if I ignore people by lack of empathy, I do not listen, nor pay attention to who they are and what they care for, beyond my own needs;
if I cannot apply the knowledge that how you do things, where, when, with whom, is as decisive as what you do;
if I neglect to examine myself, so that other people know me better and take advantage of my blind spots;
if flattery still works works on me when I know well its worth;
if I am impressed by the company of the powerful and when success, titles and power keep me busy;
if I make my decisions moved by impatience, emotion and passions like envy, greed, lust (love is no better), hate, anger, cowardice, urge for power or renown;
if I cannot control my rushed emotional reactions or hold my tongue;
if I let myself be carried with sway of public opinion and trends;
if when looking back on what I did during the day, it was imprudence and recklessness;
if I don’t use my strengths while knowing my limits, but engage in tasks the size of my dreams;
if I show poor, superficial judgement, grounded on what comes to eye and ear and my desires, instead of seeking out the important and urgent; if on the contrary, my judgement remains abstract and unconnected to here and now.
if I cling attached to what is passing and worry excessively for that which does not depend on me;
if by compassion, I die for other people’s misfortunes;
if I do things, have smart ideas, work hard, fight with courage, but I don’t really know, nor examine why and what I really want - for what cause and with what intention I do all these things in the long time; if I only think short-term, and practice a hand-to-mouth intelligence but delay endlessly the long-term so that I cannot answer: “what are the main things you want and follow in your life?”;
if I cannot consider and master the difference between what I have, what I give, what I do, what I act, who I am, how I live;
if I learn and discover and know, and work just for the sake of it, unaware that these are means and that the end of all is the benefit of people, including me;
if I say the truth for the sake of the truth and do justice for the sake of justice, ignoring that truth and justice must serve higher values of good life, happiness, peace, dignity;
if I confuse how this world of ours really is, with nowhere lands of ideas;
if I confuse my limited life, with the past and the future of humanity, deluded by people who lie to me that I live in History;
if I am too weak to apply what I learned from other people’s errors and my own mistakes and so repeat them forever;
if I fall regularly into those well known weaknesses known as capital sins and degrading turpitude: miserliness, selfishness, cruelty, negligence, neglect, pride, anger wrath, envy...;
if I am bold in success but collapse in defeat;
if I am stubborn, or lazy, so as to persist making from one mistake several…
if I lack courage to say: “I do not know”, “I cannot...”, “Sorry, I was wrong”, “You were right”, “Let me think”;
if I found on many occasions to have been ignorant or credulous but still talk as if I knew all;
if I am wasting my irreversibly passing days, squandering my years, my talents and my opportunities...
Then my son, I am a big fool.
As I write these lines I see that the litany will never end. It would keep growing until it devours all my past. And of course, there are much bigger fools than me and more dangerous too. We fools are creative indeed.
The lack of personal wisdom - I would gather at this time - is mostly deficit of depth and vision in daily life, weakness of will and lack of control: rushed judgement, heedless action, and unexamined life.
It is existence determined disproportionately from outside. It is too much responding following unawares urges, anxieties and desires, instead of acting, bumping into dangers and constraints instead of preventing them early or going around them.
Alas, unwise living persists unabashed in presence of fair understanding of what is wise.
The Greeks called akrasia that feeble lack of self-control and of endurance that makes good people incapable to do what they know to be good for them and for other people. Weakness, self-centred fleeting attention, forgetfulness and other flaws of character ruin good knowledge of wisdom and the desire to be wise.