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The paper draws on empirical research with immigrants in Ontario, Canada, to develop a geographical understanding of how wisdom can be fostered through the spatial dislocations entailed in the process of international migration. In migrating from culture A to culture B, one does not merely increase one’s store of factual and procedural knowledge through the summation of the learnings of the two cultures. Rather, a qualitative leap in one’s knowledge occurs, because the move from one culture to another opens up a breathing space between them. That breathing space allows one to sniff the scent of wisdom. It means that one can learn how to escape being spellbound by the hypnotic trance of any given culture (Heller & Steele, 2009) and that one can become acutely aware of why “language is the House of Being” (Heidegger, 1947) and of the extent to which humans are social animals, mere waves in the ocean of their own culture. That breathing space enables the acquisition of wisdom through the sheer ability (and propensity) to compare everything between the country left behind and the newly elected country. Personal geographical change enables and compels geographical comparisons, and through these comparisons we learn to appreciate (a) the relativity of values and (b) the importance of learning to live with uncertainty, both of which are prerequisites for wisdom.

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Dragos Simandan (Canada) 13710
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