Philosophical wisdom seeks to discover what man is in all his dimensions. It takes as its starting point our fundamental human experiences (work and love, for example) and reaches its culmination in an ultimate inquiry, namely the discovery of the existence of a First Being, the source of everything that exists.
Theological wisdom is a reflection in faith, starting from Scripture and the Tradition of the Church, on the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ. It seeks to grasp the meaning of the Word of God. It studies how, through His Word, God reveals His mystery progressively throughout history. It also looks at how God’s revelation, received and welcomed by His people, proceeds from God’s love for mankind and gives rise in us to a free and loving response.
Mystical wisdom is different from the other two in that it is not acquired through study. It is a grace given by the Holy Spirit to the humble, to those who welcome God’s love and want to respond to it fully. Through mystical wisdom, the Holy Spirit leads these people more deeply into the mystery of God.
‘The wisdom named among the gifts of the Holy Spirit is distinct from the wisdom found among the intellectual virtues. This second wisdom is acquired through study, but the first ‘comes from on high’, as Saint James puts it. This also distinguishes it from faith, since faith accepts divine truth as it is. But the gift of wisdom enables judgement according to divine truth”.* Yet the priority accorded this wisdom does not lead the Angelic Doctor to overlook the presence of two other complementary forms of wisdom—philosophical wisdom, which is based upon the capacity of the intellect, for all its natural limitations, to explore reality, and theological wisdom, which is based upon Revelation and which explores the contents of faith, entering the very mystery of God.’
John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, n°44
* St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q. 45, a. 1, ad 2.