Visualization of the Wisdom Cube Scientiﬁc
Knowledge Space for Management
and Evangelos Markopoulos
School of Technology and Innovations, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland
Faculty of Engineering Management, Poznan University of Technology,
Department of Business Management, UK, Hult International Business School,
Abstract. Knowledge creation in organizations is crucial for their continuing
existence. We are interested in querying and understanding what we know, how
we know, what we do, and how we can justify everything so that we can lead
and manage organizations. Therefore, it is important to follow the epistemo-
logical tradition, i.e., Episteme. This, however, is not enough, as reasoning has
to go hand in hand with knowledge creation, i.e., Sophia, to know why things
are done, what concepts are used, and what goals are possible. Techne, in turn,
together with scientiﬁc and theoretical knowledge, develops new important
technical and practical knowledge to make things happen. These three knowl-
edge dimensions still lack real hands-on practical knowledge and wisdom, i.e.,
Phronesis, to show how and to know what should be decided. This research
paper shows how the four different dimensions of knowledge can be used to
understand the philosophical background of knowledge and wisdom creation.
Keywords: Cube Episteme Knowledge Management Leadership
Phronesis Philosophy Sophia Techne Wisdom Visualization
The philosophers of the Ancient World (700 BCE–250 CE) have inspired us by their
writings to start thinking more deeply about the visualization of wisdom and
knowledge . The attempt here is now to put the basic principles in such a form that it
is possible to show, in a practical way, how knowledge and wisdom are intertwined.
Our aim is also to show how the deﬁnitions of the dimensions of wisdom give us the
means to go further in our thinking to perceive and understand the important rela-
tionships between scientiﬁc, theoretical, technical, and practical knowledge. We can
see this as a journey toward knowledge creation and wisdom. The starting point has
been Ancient World philosophers and their thinking, but we do not have the same
targets and goals as they had in their day . Our target is more a practical under-
standing of knowledge creation and wisdom for management and leadership purposes
©Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
J. I. Kantola and S. Nazir (Eds.): AHFE 2019, AISC 961, pp. 14–25, 2020.
because we have seen that there is so much to get out of the philosophers’basic
thinking , which we can then turn to the beneﬁt of modern management and
In this introduction, we would like to start with the Greek philosopher Pythagoras
(born in Samos, lived c. 570–495/7 BCE) , who combined philosophy and mathe-
matics. His most important discovery was the relationship between numbers and
proportions, ﬁnding the way to numerical harmonies. Pythagoras’s theorem reveals that
shapes and ratios are governed by principles that can be discovered and shown in
mathematical and graphical ways . He was the man who was ﬁrst able to apply
arithmetic to geometrical concepts like the “square”and the “cube”. Many
graphs/harmonies are therefore possible and have also been used here as a kind of
Socrates (born in Athens, lived c. 469–399 BCE) has been referred to as the
founder of moral philosophy as well as one of the founders of Western philosophy and
thus has also been named the greatest and best-known philosopher of them all. During
his active time, he developed the dialectic Socratic questioning method as a dialog
between opposing views and understanding. He challenged people in philosophical
discussions with fundamental questions concerning morality and politics. One of his
pupils was Plato, who recorded the most important works of Socrates [1,2].
Plato (born in Athens, lived c. 427–347 BCE) described in his famous work ‘the
Republic’, with his Allegory of the Cave, that understanding lies inside our minds as a
world of ideas, or forms, which have nothing to do with the material world, and that our
understanding and perception of this world are possible only through reason.
According to Plato, this world of ideas is the true, actual “reality”, not the world
perceived by our senses [1,2].
Aristotle (born in Stagira, lived 384–322 BCE), in turn, took a huge step forward by
saying that Plato’s theory of forms was wrong. Aristotle refuted Plato’s theory with the
Third Man argument by saying that if a man is a man because he has the form of a man,
then a third form would be required to explain how man and the form of man are both
men, and so on ad inﬁnitum. Plato’s background was in mathematics and Aristotle’sas
a researcher in the biological sciences. Aristotle based his thinking almost totally on
observation, not on abstract concepts as Plato did [1,2].
According to Aristotle , by relying on experiences of the world around us,
through our senses, we get an idea of the characteristics of the world and can thus also
understand inherent characteristics. After that, there are possibilities to study particular
things and issues and conclude universal as well as immutable entities and truths .
All of the above concepts are somehow difﬁcult for us to perceive, comprehend, and
apply so that we obtain a holistic view of scientiﬁc, theoretical, and practical wisdom as
well as knowledge generation. One view is that everything is in our minds; however,
when it is articulated the other way around, i.e., that there are many different areas of
knowledge that can be retrieved from data and information, people understand better
how to create knowledge and where real knowledge exists.
Still, we have to go back and analyze what these philosophers teach us. There is
much that their thinking can give us: especially how they view the different scientiﬁc,
theoretical, methodological, and technical as well as practical knowledge needed to
Visualization of the Wisdom Cube Scientiﬁc Knowledge Space 15
understand the world around us. Their thinking also helps us to see how we can
challenge our perception and understanding as well as current knowledge, knowledge
creation and the new knowledge that changes our way of thinking, and especially how
to make progress in the context of management and leadership.
In the following sections, we try to show the creation of the wisdom space and the
planes of wisdom with the formation of the Wisdom Cube to provide a practical way of
understanding knowledge and wisdom. The starting point is the four dimensions of
2 The Dimensions of Wisdom
Wisdom is difﬁcult to deﬁne both thoroughly and brieﬂy. Wisdom is somehow internal
as well as external. When it is in humans it is internal, i.e., tacit, and when it is external
it is explicit knowledge that exists somewhere. It is also important to understand what
wisdom is not. It is not data and it is not information. It is created and comes from
processing data and information through reasoning and through observation. Thus, it is
connected to humans in a systematic way, as humans are systems . Often, however,
the processes in humans seem to be intuitive and automatic, based on the structure and
operation of the human brain.
Episteme, Sophia, Techne, and Phronesis were the main dimensions when wisdom
was deﬁned and articulated by the Ancient Philosophers . Each dimension has its
own speciﬁc content, but the boundaries with the others are fuzzy by nature and it may
be better to describe them in terms of degree [8,9].
In the following, we try to form a certain harmony with the nature of these wisdom
and knowledge concepts. If we place Episteme on the Y-axis, Sophia on the X-axis,
and Techne on the Z-axis we obtain a three-dimensional cube (see Fig. 1), in which the
diagonal represents the dimension of Phronesis, i.e., it has relationships and interre-
lationships with each of the three other dimensions and their components, concepts,
Fig. 1. The Wisdom Cube with the four dimensions of wisdom
16 H. Vanharanta and E. Markopoulos
The Episteme dimension on the Y-axis contains all scientiﬁc knowledge and can be
deﬁned as the scientiﬁc dimension of wisdom. Sophia on the X-axis contains all
theoretical knowledge and shows the theoretical dimension of wisdom. In turn, Techne
on the Z-axis represents technical knowledge and can be deﬁned as the technical
dimension of wisdom. The fourth (diagonal) dimension is the practical dimension of
wisdom, i.e., Phronesis, which has connections, relationships, and interrelationships
with each of the previous three dimensions of wisdom . The graphical presentation
above (Fig. 1) gives us the Wisdom Cube. The Cube, with its components, will be
delineated and depicted in more detail in the following chapters.
2.1 Episteme - The Scientiﬁc Dimension of Wisdom
As Aristotle said in his Nicomachean Ethics :
“Scientiﬁc knowledge is about things that are universal and necessary, and the conclusions of
demonstrations and all scientiﬁc knowledge follow from ﬁrst principles (for scientiﬁc knowl-
edge involves apprehension of rational ground). This being so, the ﬁrst principle from which
what is scientiﬁcally known follows cannot be an object of scientiﬁc knowledge, of art, or of
practical wisdom; for that which can be scientiﬁcally known can be demonstrated, and art and
practical wisdom deal with things that are variable.”
This means that what is scientiﬁcally known can be demonstrated, and so things
which are variable belong more to art and practical wisdom.
From the above, we can conclude that taking Episteme as a basis now demands a
totally new type of teachable knowledge regarding management and leadership. We
have to show and demonstrate better and better so that we obtain more universal as well
as necessary knowledge for management and leadership purposes. We understand that
in social sciences this is very demanding, but we see that it is nevertheless very natural
and also practical to take the Episteme dimension and direction into consideration,
especially if we use the other wisdom dimensions of Sophia, Techne, and Phronesis
(see Fig. 2). A better scientiﬁc touch supports and improves the other areas of
knowledge and wisdom.
Fig. 2. Episteme - the scientiﬁc dimension of wisdom
Visualization of the Wisdom Cube Scientiﬁc Knowledge Space 17
In the management and leadership context, Episteme, the scientiﬁc dimension of
wisdom, is therefore important; however, we cannot follow principles which are valid
in the natural sciences like physics, chemistry, etc. We can only apply scientiﬁc
knowledge in this management and leadership context and suppose that what we know
is not even capable of being otherwise . Therefore, the aspiration of scientiﬁc
knowledge, Episteme, is also a necessity in this context. However, we understand that
there are difﬁculties ﬁnding knowledge that is context-independent, invariable, nec-
essary, and universal. The knowledge created is based normally on general analytical
rationality. The target is to know and to create knowledge, i.e., “justiﬁed true belief”,
that is as close as possible to the demands of Episteme.
2.2 Sophia –The Theoretical Dimension of Wisdom
The Ancient Greek word Sophia (rouίa,sophía) is the abstract noun of rouό1
(sophós), which has been variously translated by the words “clever, skillful, intelligent,
wise”, all of which characterize humans. Sophia has also been described with a
wider conception as the theoretical dimension of wisdom [5,6]. Theoretical knowl-
edge, in turn, has been deﬁned as knowledge of “why”something is true. This means
that it is necessary to ﬁnd explanations to state why certain truths are true. A deep
understanding is then necessary, which requires reasoning concerning universal truths.
Abstract concepts, as well as different contexts, make this reasoning difﬁcult and many
times the results do not fulﬁll the requirements (see Fig. 3).
In business management and leadership, the question “why”is extremely impor-
tant. Many cause-and-effect relationships and interrelationships are difﬁcult to observe
without clever, skillful, intelligent, and wise managers and leaders. This, however, is
Fig. 3. Sophia - the theoretical dimension of wisdom
18 H. Vanharanta and E. Markopoulos
not enough because knowledge also needs background theories, methodologies, and
methods, which help to ﬁx connections to quantitative data and qualitative information.
2.3 Techne –The Technical Dimension of Wisdom
A very good deﬁnition of what Techne means comes from Aristotle’s texts. He saw it
as “representative of the imperfection of human imitation of nature”. There are
many examples that describe Techne as an activity, which is concrete, variable, and
context-dependent. Carpentry has been mentioned in his texts as an example of Techne,
as well as sciences like medicine and arithmetic. Often, Techne is thought of as more
productive than theoretical, but Techne reveals its nature when people wish to obtain
information concerning how to do something, i.e., technical know-how. It is also
interesting that it fulﬁlls the requirement of Episteme that it can be taught. This, in turn,
is related to the people who are behind this knowledge and wisdom. Techne has
connections to people who can make, know what is needed, know when the need
exists, and also the context where something is needed. Techne is therefore very close
to Phronesis, the practical dimension of wisdom (see Fig. 4).
Techne also has connections with communication, since people are connected to
their cultures and communicate what they are going to do or make. Human ability,
capacity, commitment, and motivation show what a person is going to do and make.
Techne aims at deeds where activity or making leads to an end or an end product.
Techne is close to the terms technique, technical, and technology, leading to production
activities, processes, as well as other mechanical or material components of the real
Fig. 4. Techne - the technical dimension of wisdom
Visualization of the Wisdom Cube Scientiﬁc Knowledge Space 19
2.4 Phronesis –The Practical Dimension of Wisdom
Practical wisdom, Phronesis, is the fourth dimension of wisdom in the Wisdom Cube. It
is an Ancient Greek word for a type of wisdom or intelligence (Ancient Greek:
uqόmηrῐ1, translit. phrónēsis). In his book, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
approaches Phronesis separately as one important area of wisdom . It is more action-
oriented but also includes the capability of rational thinking (see Fig. 5).
Phronesis is based on practical value-rationality and the created knowledge is
variable (not invariable) because it is very much a context- and situation-dependent
dimension of wisdom. Phronesis emphasizes deliberation about ethics and values with
reference to practical needs. In business management and leadership, added and shared
values constitute increased value, which the organization can produce for humankind
with its human as well as its ﬁxed assets.
One sub-dimension of Phronesis is looking ahead to the future, i.e., the “power of
foresight”, which is something which people trust to be important in their current
situation. Many times this wisdom emerges when people know how and also when they
are capable of showing how. Much of this wisdom and knowledge is connected to
intuitive thinking in a speciﬁc context and situation and so we understand that
Phronesis has connections to Episteme, Sophia, and Techne. Its pragmatic nature
serves people well and deliberation of ethics and values keep it close to daily life. This
dimension of wisdom is therefore very important in daily management and leadership
when deep understanding and deliberation are needed.
“Practical wisdom, on the other hand, is concerned with things human and things about which
it is possible to deliberate; for we say this is above all the work of the man of practical wisdom,
to deliberate well, but no one deliberates about things invariable, nor about things which have
not an end, and that a good that can brought about by action”.
Fig. 5. Phronesis - the practical dimension of wisdom
20 H. Vanharanta and E. Markopoulos
Aristotle also teaches us by saying that practical wisdom needs a real understanding
of particulars and this wisdom lies in people who have experience, and who are more
practical than those who only emphasize universal knowledge and understanding .
This means that good and high-level practice should be focused on particulars.
At the end of this section on the practical dimension of wisdom, it is worth referring
to Aristotle when he comments that learning is called understanding when it means the
exercise of the faculty of knowledge .
3 The Planes of Wisdom
The planes of wisdom have been created with three vectors of wisdom as well as with
the cube concept presented in Sect. 2. Each of the planes of the cube represents
different areas of wisdom; however, in a way that with each vector we get two planes
which have the same content. The planes of the constructed Cube of Wisdom are thus
as follows: the Plane of Scientiﬁc and Technical Wisdom, the Plane of Scientiﬁc and
Theoretical Wisdom, and the Plane of Theoretical and Technical Wisdom (see Fig. 6).
Inside the Planes of Wisdom there is the current Universe of Wisdom, i.e., all the
wisdom humans have created during their existence. This is the wisdom and knowl-
edge that humankind has, and it also describes the Space of Wisdom with its system
boundaries and content. The Space of Wisdom is expanding and growing continuously
in three directions (see Fig. 6). Outside the Space of Wisdom is the unknown, which is
not yet available to us. Aristotle described this unknown in his Nicomachean Ethics,
Book VI, 3, as follows:
“We all suppose that what we know is not even capable of being otherwise; of things capable of
being otherwise we don’t know, when they passed outside our observation, whether they exist
Fig. 6. The planes of wisdom
Visualization of the Wisdom Cube Scientiﬁc Knowledge Space 21
This unknown may be revealed to us in the future if we work hard and can make
observations of the unknown. What then becomes known can be taught and will be the
object of new learning and understanding.
Regarding management and leadership, the Wisdom Space of Management and
Leadership has its own boundaries and its own planes and dimensions of wisdom. The
categories and contexts of the Wisdom Space frame and shape many areas of wisdom
and knowledge, depending on the context in question.
In the following, a short description of each of the Planes of Wisdom is presented.
3.1 The Plane of Scientiﬁc and Theoretical Wisdom
The Plane of Scientiﬁc and Theoretical Wisdom has two different wisdom dimensions
and directions, i.e., the scientiﬁc Episteme and the theoretical Sophia. Scientiﬁc wis-
dom is what we know and what has been revealed through observations and experi-
ments. Theoretical wisdom, in turn, is more a kind of deep understanding and utilizes
answers to many “why”questions. Knowing why the world is like it is reveals the basic
facts behind and reasoning concerning universal truths. This theoretical dimension can
be abstract or concrete. To perceive and understand the content demands great capacity
of the people who concentrate on creating more theoretical knowledge and wisdom.
We can imagine this kind of knowledge through the planes of the Wisdom Cube, where
we have real facts, truths, as well as theories that give us a new deep understanding of
the world around us. We can also understand that interpreting problems with the help
of reasoning in a given situation with a good theory can provide many new opportu-
nities to ﬁnd meaningful solutions to the problems in question. In social sciences,
which is our context, namely management and leadership, we have to consider the fact
that true knowledge might be difﬁcult to achieve because the theories of management
and leadership are often fuzzy and not as accurate as strict theoretical requirements
demand. In physics and chemistry and other natural sciences, the situation is totally
different and then the scientiﬁc and therefore the Plane of Scientiﬁc and Theoretical
Wisdom has a different nature and characteristics .
3.2 The Plane of Theoretical and Technical Wisdom
The Plane of Theoretical and Technical Wisdom also has two dimensions: the theo-
retical Sophia and the technical Techne. Both the dimensions and directions have
created an important area of wisdom and knowledge. Many technical discoveries are
based on good theories; also the craftsmanship thinking in the Techne dimension
provides possibilities to understand the practical side of the theories. Questions like
know who, know what, know when, and know where, know how, etc. also ﬁt extre-
mely well with the theoretical reasoning concerning universal truths and abstract
concepts. Craft and art aspects are different in Techne, but activating and making
describe this direction very well . Deep understanding through theoretical discus-
sions and also making empirical tests will widen the Plane of Theoretical and Technical
22 H. Vanharanta and E. Markopoulos
3.3 The Plane of Scientiﬁc and Technical Wisdom
The third plane is the Plane of Scientiﬁc and Technical Wisdom. There are also two
dimensions and directions, i.e., Episteme and Techne. The increase of scientiﬁc
knowledge has given the technical side vast new opportunities in the modern world.
Facts from scientiﬁc knowledge help craftsmanship and engineering to ﬂourish, gen-
erating innovative and ever better products and services for humankind. In the modern
era, we have experienced many new scientiﬁc discoveries, which have been turned into
everyday products or services. In recent times computer sciences have taken the leading
position to change the world, and help us solve complex multi-variable problems in
many scientiﬁc, theoretical, and practical areas and contexts.
4 The Space of Wisdom
All three planes are components in building the Space of Wisdom. It is understood that
by determining the characteristics and faculties of each plane we can construct a large
space, which may have huge amounts of connections and interconnections. This kind
of network is maintained and supported with the data and information we have put into
the system and the outgoing knowledge can be extracted by the people using the data
and information within. To obtain a holistic view of the dimensions, planes, and the
Space of Wisdom, we have integrated everything into a single diagram (see Fig. 7).
Figure 7shows very clearly that breaking down the construct into different char-
acteristics helps us understand the nature of wisdom and it also shows how important it
is to use this created knowledge for teaching purposes in the management and lead-
ership context. Figure 7allows us to go further and penetrate deeper into the secrets of
Fig. 7. The space of wisdom with the dimensions and planes of wisdom
Visualization of the Wisdom Cube Scientiﬁc Knowledge Space 23
business knowledge in the speciﬁc context we have taken. Humans behave as active
members inside this Space of Wisdom, as entities, i.e., as living systems .
The Planes and Space of Wisdom show clearly that the Ancient Philosophers
reached a level of understanding that gives us great opportunities to see ourselves as
members and owners of that ‘big wisdom’. The degree of wisdom in each plane can
describe an individual’s position in the overall universal Space of Wisdom. A strong
scientiﬁc, theoretical, and technical education throughout the Planes of Wisdom is one
important path for managers and leaders to attain a strong position in their organization.
For cross-scientiﬁc purposes as well as for teams and teamwork, it is important to
concentrate on a veriﬁed and validated education, which increases knowledge creation
in all dimensions. This process leads to high-level outputs in daily work on the indi-
vidual level as well as on the collective level.
5 Discussion and Conclusions
This research is scientiﬁc, theoretical, technical, as well as practical for management
and leadership purposes. The research derived from a keen interest in philosophy as
well as management and leadership. The ideas for the content came from the discus-
sions between the authors over many years as well as writing about new management
and leadership concepts in different speciﬁc areas. The three-dimensional model, the
Wisdom Cube, has been an integral part of our thinking for a number of years now and
we consider that three-dimensional thinking has helped us immensely in understanding
many new business ontologies as well as real business constructs and concepts.
The construct of the Wisdom Cube with the Dimensions of Wisdom as well as the
Planes of Wisdom has helped us to demonstrate the concepts of knowledge areas in
Episteme, Sophia, Techne, and Phronesis. The construct has also provided a strong
base for further analysis of what it means in the context of management and leadership.
As a scientiﬁc contribution (Episteme), we can conclude that the visualization of
the Wisdom Cube helps to understand the creation of scientiﬁc knowledge. The
attributes of scientiﬁc knowledge clarify the requirements of “justiﬁed true belief”,
which are clear demands for knowledge creation in the management and leadership
The theoretical contribution (Sophia) in this research helps us to understand the
attributes of theoretical knowledge. The attribute “know why”focuses the reasoning
process on answering why our management and leadership constructs, concepts, and
variables produce important information for knowledge creation in speciﬁc business
The technical dimension of wisdom and its relations to the other wisdom dimen-
sions can be seen as an enabler. Many new scientiﬁc theories see the light of day
through developed technologies. Techne transforms the scientiﬁc as well as theoretical
discoveries and innovations for practical use. During recent years we have experienced
many new technology services and products which help humankind in many ways. We
can say that Techne converts human wisdom into practice.
The practical visualization of wisdom presented here, the Dimension(s) and Plane(s)
of Phronesis, can be used ﬁrst for education purposes. The attributes of Phronesis are
24 H. Vanharanta and E. Markopoulos
highly suitable for Ph.D. students and Master’s students of business management and
leadership. The Wisdom Cube, as a whole, is a clear metaphor, which students can
remember easily, and which can hold the content as a foundation for their studies in the
business context. The Cube is also relevant for managers and leaders already working in
business. It shows in a practical way how important it is to continuously increase
personal as well as collective knowledge creation in their organizations. The Phronesis
attributes focus on a detailed deliberation about values from many directions. They also
cover a large area of knowledge creation to understand what to do now, how to do it, as
well as to see into the future so that the decision makers can support, lead, and decide the
best possible paths for the characteristics of their own company. Important questions in
perceiving, in deep understanding, as well as in knowledge creation are: Where are we
now? Why are we here? Where should we be? and Are we getting there? To quote
Aristotle : “Wisdom is intuitive reason combined with scientiﬁc knowledge.”
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