The Nicomachean Ethics Book 6, Chapter 13 (1144b1-1145a11)
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Book 6, Chapter 13 (1144b1-1145a11)
- Aristotle circles back to virtue. He speaks of it in two ways: the natural and the authoritative.
- He says that virtues are present in us in some form from birth, but that we seek a more definitive sense of good.
- We need intellect to perfect our virtues. Virtue without intellect is like a strong but blind person: though capable, he'll stumble without eyesight.
- But virtue in the authoritative sense needs both intellect and prudence to develop. This is because correct reason works right alongside prudence.
- Without prudence, a person can't be wholly good. And without moral virtue, there's no prudence.
- Therefore, when we call a person "good," it means that he's also prudent.
- Because prudence is in residence, so are all the other virtues. So prudence is like the King (or Queen) of virtues.
- Why? 1) Prudence is necessary for proper action. 2) It's a virtue belonging to the rational soul. 3) No correct choices can be made without it.
- But Aristotle doesn't want to overstate the importance of prudence. It is not really the boss of wisdom or the "better part of the soul."
- Prudence works for wisdom, governing actions that might then lead to the discovery of universal knowledge (i.e. wisdom).