AmPhronesisAccording 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 ones 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 ones 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 ones 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 ones life of health, wealth, knowledge (meaning wisdom), virtue and friendship. Now even though phronesis is categorized under a virtue it is what will obtain these goals for not only ones self but also for everybody.
Health is a necessary component to lead a happy life because, you may be temporarily happy if you have a long-term sickness, but you will not always be happy, and the odds are that the sickness will restrict one from doing everything that they would of liked to have. So when looking back and contemplating ones life, there will be spots where one wished that they could of done something but couldnt of due to a lack of health. Wealth is a minorly important aspect of a happy life. It can allow one to do most things that one would want to accomplish in a life, but everybody knows that money has its restrictions in what it can buy, such as love and friendship.
Knowledge is also an important thing that one must have in life. With wisdom, one can accomplish so much more in ones life, and not only that but can help others to lead happier lives, by using ones knowledge for the benefit of mankind i.e.
medicine, teaching etc.Now friendship is one of the most important things that should be included in a happy life. Without friends people are lonely, depressed and lacking of common social skills. Friends are capable of helping one in a time of need and are also according to Aristotle sharing of common interests, including that of trying to improve mankind. Moral virtues are adapted by watching and observing what is and isnt helpful to others and by learning to become a good person in others eyes as well as ones own. Since, phronesis is the rational type of knowledge in ones life it is what helps one to make decisions and judgments.
Therefore, since the goal in life is to be happy, phronesis will guide our decisions and judgments towards happiness. Now since Aristotle claims that health, wealth, knowledge, virtue and friendship are what will lead to a happy life and since the goal of phronesis is a happy life, it is apparent that phronesis will then be the best tool in trying to obtain health, wealth, knowledge, virtue and friendship. Starting with knowledge, phronesis can help to obtain this by realizing that an education is important in todays society, and that knowledge will help to get a job, to know how to vote, and so on. Phronesis will help in the process of gaining book smarts and help to know what to study and how. Once one has gained some knowledge they now can better gain the other aspects of a happy life, by combining knowledge and phronesis. One great example would be how to stay healthy.
Phronesis will obviously guide one to realize how to not kill themselves or to seriously injure themselves, through plain and simple common sense. However, phronesis alone cant teach one how to exercise properly, eat healthy, or to avoid harmful materials, this is done through knowledge that one gains about health and nutrition. By combining the two wisdoms once again, wealth is much more easy to acquire. With knowledge, some good common sense, and good people skills it will be much easier to become wealthy, weather it be by owning a business, through stock, a good job, etc.. And lastly phronesis, will more so than the other needs, help to acquire friends and virtue. The reason it can help in these two categories more is because it can alone gain these, with no help of knowledge or anything else (although they came help, but are not necessary as in health and wealth).
Phronesis is basically common sense and real life, real situation skills. These are what are used to interact with others and to get around in life. Through phronesis gaining friends is done by looking for similar people, learning to be kind and friendly to them and knowing how to keep them as friends and to not drive them away. This is learned by everyday observations and experiences in society, and cant be taught in a classroom or in a book. Now virtue is a more complicated matter, as it is different in all peoples eyes and because there is no true definition for it. However, the basics of a virtuous person are that they are loyal, keep their word, honest, and strive to make mankind and themselves happy.
Phronesis teaches people how to act like this learning through observation and experience of other virtuous people, of how people react to others, of what is viewed as right and wrong and what should be done to right a wrong, and so on. Since phronesis is used as a judgment tool of the mind, it is what will or at least should make the best decision in all situations for one self and man. Although making the best decisions all of the time is impossible, it will do so to the best extent that one has put their phronesis too.
In other words, depending on how rational, or how much phronesis one has, will depend on how many good decisions one makes on a regular basis. Phronesis will not only lead to people making good decisions for themselves, but also for all of mankind. Being a trait that focuses primarily on rationality and practical wisdom, then it only seems wise that with a good understanding and bearing of phronesis, that one would strive to improve mankind rather than just one self. When acting selfishly and only trying to please one self, phronesis is already out of play.
If pleasing one self is the only goal, then looking out for others is not. This means that one is already not in pursuit or in good pursuit of making and keeping friends. This would then lead to loneliness and an unhappy life, which is in contrast to the goal of phronesis. Also phronesis leads to helping out mankind, because virtue is another essential need for a happy life, and one is not virtuous is they are acting selfishly or carelessly. Although, making one self happy and looking out for one self is not wrong, its just that one should do so while also doing it for others. If one could make two, five, or fifty peoples lives better or closer to happiness, then wouldnt it make sense to create that much more happiness than to just make one life happy when acting selfishly.
Being a rational wisdom with the goal of happiness, then it would only make sense to try to create as much happiness as possible, whether it be for ones self or for multiple others. The goal is happiness, with no specific target, but just to produce as much as possible. However, there is a side factor in all of this, and this type goal and thinking. If one is bettering others lives and making them happier, then this will in turn create happiness for the person making others happy. So all in all, its a win win situation for everybody, as long as people use phronesis to guide their lives, and to always try and get a better bearing and understanding of it.
Now looking at phronesis, it is clear that is it an essential element in the lives of all people, in order to live a happy life. Phronesis will enable people to gain the essential things in life such as health, wealth, knowledge, virtue and friendship. It allows for humans to interact normally and to help in making wise choices and judgments. Most of all though it helps for people to make themselves but more important, others happy.Words/ Pages : 2,057 / 24