Feb 18, 2011

On Phronesis

I am writing this right now because I need motivation to care about the practical:
Aristotle brushed his teeth and had time to think?!
On Thursday mornings for the past month I have been meeting with a fellow graduate student to study for the Philosophy department's oral exam. She is preparing on Aristotle. Although Ancient Philosophy is not my specific area, I find myself going back to the Ancients. My study buddy was explicating Aristotle on phronesis which is found in these two works: the Ethics and the Politics. Aristotle develops this cool idea about wisdom which I think makes sense. We tend to think of wisdom as something disconnected from practical everyday life. Or, we tend to think the attainment of wisdom has nothing to do with practical matters. The wise man just is wise. Right? Wisdom appears to be totally inactive and geared towards contemplation. Nothing to do with everyday stuff like brushing your teeth and getting rid of head lice.  Aristotle has this groovy notion that if a person really wants wisdom what he first needs to do is get his practical affairs in order. To achieve the leisure time to reflect one has to do the boring, tedious stuff first. Scheduling, being to work on time, replying to email, making money, and all the stuff we associate with the hum drum must be accomplished, or at least those things ought to be managed well by us if we ever want time to reflect on the good stuff.  


  

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