Wisdom (Eccl 2:12-17)
Perhaps it is good to seek an object outside of work itself, but a higher objective is needed than pleasure. So the teacher reports, “I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly” (Eccl. 2:12). In other words, he becomes something akin to today’s professor or researcher. Unlike achievement for achievement’s sake, wisdom can at least be attained to some degree. “I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness” (Eccl. 2:13). But other than filling the head with exalted thoughts, it makes no real difference in life, for “the wise die just like fools” (Eccl. 1:16). Pursuing wisdom led the Teacher to the brink of despair (Eccl. 1:17), a result that remains all too common in academic pursuits today. The teacher concludes, “all is vanity and a chasing after wind” (Eccl. 2:17).