The Variety of Human Experience #68
Aristotle and how to acquire practical wisdom
Welcome to the next post in our year-long philosophy experiment, where we will try out six different philosophies of life and see how they work out for us! I’d love to have your feedback on the whole project and to hear how you’re doing and whether you find this useful and fun.
These first two months, we will try to live according to the advice of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC). Last time, we talked about which goals are better than others and how our working life often pushes us in the wrong direction. Today, we will look a little into the value of diversity regarding our experiences. Thanks for being here!
Aristotle emphasises that, in order to be happy, we need this quality that he calls phronesis, which means that ability to know how to use our virtues correctly in our everyday lives — so that we always benefit both ourselves and those around us.
For Aristotle, benefiting oneself is necessarily connected to benefiting others.
Selfishness leads nowhere since we can only advance in our humanity by exercising our virtues — and for this, we need others who will give us opportunities to exercise our virtues: to be honest, to be kind, brave, patient and so on. We grow and become happier and more complete by being morally good human beings — by being good to others.
But how do we learn the skills required to benefit others in the first place? How do we learn phronesis, that ability to judge what the right action is at any particular moment in our lives?
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