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Reason and CharacterThe Moral Foundations of Aristotelian Political Philosophy$
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Lorraine Smith Pangle

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226688169

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226688336.001.0001

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Wisdom and Active Wisdom

Wisdom and Active Wisdom

The Intellectual Virtues

(p.182) Chapter 5 Wisdom and Active Wisdom
Reason and Character

Lorraine Smith Pangle

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the Aristotelian virtue of phronesis or active wisdom in its relation both to theoretical wisdom and to moral virtue and praxis. Exploring the sharp lines that Aristotle purports to draw between different kinds of reasoning, between the different kinds of activities that they govern, including art, science, intellect or nous, active wisdom, and theoretical wisdom, and between the separate parts of the soul that he says engage in each of these, the chapter argues that all of these lines prove practically useful but theoretically increasingly problematic as book 6 of the Ethics proceeds. The result is, most importantly, a dual account of phronesis, one version of which is closely tied to conventional moral virtue and whose principles are rooted in opinion, and one version of which is in fact inseparable from theoretical wisdom. Aristotle's analysis of how the intellect grasps both changing and unchanging objects sheds further light on his claim in book 5 that the principles of natural right are always changing.

Keywords:   active wisdom, art, intellect, nous, phronesis, praxis, science, theoretical wisdom

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