What is Chochman (wisdom) ?
First of all, Chochman is to be distinguished from be Binah (understand) and Da'at (knowledge). It is the flash of understanding that one has. For example, lets say you are learning a piece of gemara and are having trouble understanding it. You sit with yourself trying to get it, and then.... eureka, you get it. That flash is considered chochman. It is a point, yet undefined, that contains within the understanding of something. ONce you start to develop it and tell it to your study partner, you are utilizing your Binah, understanding. Binah takes ones wisdom and fleshes it out. So the moment of insight is wisdom, which can be explained in a few minutes using your binah.
Da'at, knowledge is NOT knowing a lot of information. It is the integration of the wisdom and binah into one's being. This requires focusing on a certain subject to an extent that it begins to Effect one's Affect.
So while books are necessary for wisdom, torah books are the platform in which one can attain wisdom. To attain wisdom requires a moment of contemplative silence/reflection with the material.
The mishnah in pirket avot (3:17) says:
"Rabbi Akiva said: Jesting and lightheadedness accustom a person to immorality. The oral transmission is a protective fence for the Torah. Tithes are a protective fence for wealth. Vows are a protective fence for abstinence. A protective fence for wisdom is silence."
Note the different phrasing with respect to wisdom and silence. To be consistent, it should have said, silence is a fence for wisdom. The midrash Shmuel says that the reason for the different wording is to teach us that in the case of wisdom, silence is the only means, where as the other things have other protective fences to help attain them.
It seems that wisdom and torah can be completely separated from one another. For instance, our sages teach us:"he who tells you that there is wisdom amongst the nations, believe him; but if he tells you there is torah amongst the nations, don't believe him.
Similarly, chapter 6 of Pirket Avot is dedicated towards teaching a person the value of torah and how to attain it. In describing the 48 ways of acquiring torah (6:5), the mishnah does NOT state that silence or wisdom is means of obtaining Torah. In other words, one can obtain torah but not necessarily be wise.
So the question remains, what would we prefer, to be wise or to attain torah? Which one is greater?