The Differences Of Aristotle: Practical And Theoretical Wisdom

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To begin, Aristotle defines and contrasts both practical and theoretical wisdom. Practical wisdom is defined by Aristotle as being, “a truthful rational characteristic of acting in matters involving what is good for man” (Aristotle Ethics, pg. 154). In other words, practical wisdom is concerned with deciding what a good course of action for man is. On the other hand about theoretical wisdom, Aristotle writes, “a wise man must not only know what follows from fundamental principles, but he must also have true knowledge of the fundamental principles themselves. Accordingly, theoretical wisdom must comprise both intelligence and scientific knowledge”(Aristotle Ethics, pg. 156). These definitions bring to light one of the major differences …show more content…
152). A universal truth cannot differ from what it is; hence, theoretical wisdom is the same for everyone. Meanwhile, practical wisdom is concerned with particulars. Aristotle elaborates on this when he writes, “each particular being ascribes practical wisdom in matters relating to itself to that thing which observes its interests well” (Aristotle Ethics, pg. 156). Aristotle is saying that each individual has its own sense of what is practically wise based on its own interests. The actions for each person are determined by what their practical wisdom elects will allow them to achieve virtue. Aristotle sums up the differences between the two as they pertain to universals and particulars with this, “‘wise’ must mean the same for everyone, but ‘practically wise’ will be different” (Aristotle Ethics, pg. 156). Practical wisdom and theoretical wisdom are the two intellectual virtues outlined by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics; however, they differ …show more content…
Aristotle makes clear that he perceives theoretical wisdom is the superior of the two intellectual virtues: “It is, therefore, clear, that wisdom must be the most precise and perfect form of knowledge” (Aristotle Ethics, pg. 156). Wisdom is used in this section refers to theoretical wisdom. One reason Aristotle believes theoretical wisdom is of higher importance than practical wisdom is its relation to the divine. As mentioned earlier, Aristotle believes theoretical wisdom is concerned with things that are by nature more divine than human. Aristotle makes this argument by writing, “The argument that man is the best of living things makes no difference. There are other things whose nature is much more divine than man’s: to take the most visible example only, the constituent parts of the universe” (Aristotle Ethics, pg. 157). Aristotle is arguing that the topics theoretical wisdom is concerned with are of greater significance than human action. Since theoretical wisdom studies things with a more divine nature than man, for example the cosmos and the universe, and practical wisdom concerns itself with human action, following the argument, theoretical wisdom is superior to practical wisdom. Given these points, I am in agreement with Aristotle that the knowledge which theoretical wisdom concerns itself with is higher than that of practical wisdom. Because human action is

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