Single Idea 5839

[catalogued under 20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / a. Practical reason]

Full Idea

Socrates did not distinguish wisdom from prudence, but judged that the man who recognises and puts into practice what is truly good, and the man who knows and guards against what is disgraceful, are both wise and prudent.


'Prudence' is the Greek word 'phronesis', also translated as 'practical reason'

Gist of Idea

For Socrates, wisdom and prudence were the same thing


report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Xenophon - Memorabilia of Socrates 3.9.3

Book Reference

Xenophon: 'Conversations of Socrates', ed/tr. Waterfield,R/Tredennick,H. [Penguin 1990], p.161

A Reaction

Compare Aristotle, who separates them, claiming that prudence is essential for moral virtue, but wisdom is pursued at a different level, closer to the gods than to society.