Aristotle Phronesis

Topics: Virtue, Happiness, Nicomachean Ethics Pages: 5 (2005 words) Published: June 5, 2002

According to Aristotle and his theories, there are two basic types of intellectual virtues by which we live our lives. The two intellectual virtues that he speaks of are wisdom and phronesis. Wisdom is a virtue that we are able to gain and increase throughout our lives through experience and time. Of the two different intellectual virtues that Aristotle speaks of, wisdom is more of a scientific knowledge, it is the type of knowledge that would be expected of an intellect. While phronesis is not a virtue acquired through an education or books, it is more of a virtue that is learned and built from social interaction and real life experiences.

Phronesis is not a wisdom that can be gained through reading books, or studying under teachers and what not, but it is the type of wisdom that is also gained through time and experience, but applies more so to everyday life and its encounters. Phronesis is a wisdom that somebody with no schooling can be adept at, it is the ability to make good judgments and decisions throughout life. When thinking of Phronesis, one of the better ways to understand it would be to think of it as the more rational side of our thoughts and personalities. As Aristotle puts it "it is concerned with human affairs…", therefore meaning it is how people deal with each other, themselves and daily life situations. Phronesis however, is not just being able to make decisions for one's self interest only, but it is also being able to make the best decision for mankind. Being able to think and act towards what will best benefit one's self and man at the same time is truly what phronesis is all about.

When speaking of phronesis as being what will best suite mankind as a whole, then one must look at it as a key part of political science, as political science is the study of benefiting mankind to its maximum potential. If political science is the study of benefiting mankind, then there is no way that somebody who lacks a good foundation of phronesis can be a thinker of political science. In political science, one must be able to put themselves and their wants and needs below the needs of mankind. Now, when dealing with political science, one of the key components is to be able to act and think with justice in mind. With justice there must be at least two sides of a situation. Within these two sides are going to be conflicting or at least different views and opinions. Justice is being able to deal with both sides ( or more if so) and to do it fairly. In order to be fair, one must use phronesis to be able to judge the situation and to be able to give both sides a balance of justice and injustice. By looking at this, it is obvious that justice is not just a general form that we can take at all times, but it is dealing with a particular instance each time. When deciding how to balance justice and injustice, one must look at who or what was being unjust in the first place and who was treated unjustly, then create a balance on both sides. Also not to be forgotten when dealing with justice, is one's self. Although political science and phronesis are dealing with what is best for mankind, one must not at the same time treat themselves unjustly. When justice is being used correctly it will bring or conserve for the most part, not always because as said previously, each situation is different, happiness among the people and the man as a whole.

Everybody has a sense of phronesis at some point in their lives, but to what extent and how often is what matters. People who are adept at phronesis will be the ones who are striving for the good of all mankind. So in other words phronesis is the pursuit of happiness for all of man. Now according to Aristotle, happiness is the ultimate goal in ones life, and it is obtained by having possession in one's life of health, wealth, knowledge (meaning wisdom), virtue and friendship. Now even though phronesis is categorized under a virtue it...
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