Study Guide

The Nicomachean Ethics Book 6, Chapter 5 (1139b24-1140b30)

By Aristotle

Book 6, Chapter 5 (1139b24-1140b30)

  • Aristotle's going to tackle prudence first. A prudent person is able to deliberate correctly about those actions that will help him live well and happily.
  • Prudence is neither science nor art. It's not a science because we don't deliberate about the stuff we know to be true. There's no debate there.
  • It's not an art because it doesn't deal with making or creating. Again, prudence deals specifically with decisions about action that will lead to good ends.
  • The virtue of prudence belongs to "the part of the soul dealing with opinions." This is the capacity to sift through what's known or thought to choose the best course of action.
  • It's not exactly knowledge or wisdom, but rather a very limited kind of excellence in figuring out how to act so that we can get to the good ends we are aiming for.