Aristotle and Phronesis (Practical Wisdom)

Document Type : Scientific-research


Imam Khomeini International University


Aristotle is the first philosopher who specifically focuses on phronesis or practical wisdom in detail. He has dealt with it in three areas of essence, elements of phronetic act, and phronesis functions. For Aristotle, phronesis was a moral and intellectual virtue and a prerequisite for the prosperity of every individual and community. In his elaboration of the ontological position of phronesis, Aristotle differentiates it from other intellectual virtues such as episteme, techne, intuitive intellect, and Sophia. He argues that these last three items have to do with theory, while phronesis is about praxis and practice. He also differentiates between phronesis and Techne. Although techne, like phronesis, is about practice, practice in techne is of poiesis and construction nature. Phronesis, on the other hand, is a comprehensive and applied type of knowledge that not only dictates the daily activities, but also utilizes knowledge as a guide and a calculator. Moreover, what is referred to as an action in phronesis encompasses a variety of elements like perceiving the goal, desire, rational deliberation and prohairesis or rational choice. Aristotle also believes that phronesis gives a valuable framework for leading man’s life.