Aristotle and Aquinas on Prudence
Aristotle, prudence is “a state grasping the truth, involving reason, and
concerned with action about human goods.” Aristotle’s development of the
concept of prudence provides the foundation for all subsequent discussions of
prudence in the Western philosophical tradition. In particular, Thomas Aquinas'
subtle and powerful treatment of prudence is developed through his inheritance
and critique of Aristotle's work. In this seminar, we will see how Aristotle
and Aquinas’s conception of prudence unifies and structures their treatments of
human action, practical reason, and ethics. Topics of special interest for our
seminar will include: the relation between action and thought; the possibility
of rational evildoing; and the social and political dimensions of prudence. The
focus of our discussion will be a close reading of selected texts from
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and the Second Part of Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae.