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Further: [Greek: politikhae] and Practical Wisdom are the same mental state, but the point of view is not the same.

Of Practical Wisdom exerted upon a community that which I would call the Supreme is the faculty of Legislation; the subordinate, which is concerned with the details, generally has the common name [Greek: politikhae], and its functions are Action and Deliberation (for the particular enactment is a matter of action, being the ultimate issue of this branch of Practical Wisdom, and therefore people commonly say, that these men alone are really engaged in government, because they alone act, filling the same place relatively to legislators, that workmen do to a master).

Again, that is thought to be Practical Wisdom in the most proper sense which has for its object the interest of the Individual: and this usually appropriates the common name: the others are called respectively Domestic Management, Legislation, Executive Government divided into two branches, Deliberative and Judicial. Now of course, knowledge for one’s self is one kind of knowledge, but it admits of many shades of difference: and it is a common notion that the man [Sidenote:1142a] who knows and busies himself about his own concerns merely is the man of Practical Wisdom, while they who extend their solicitude to society at large are considered meddlesome.

Euripides has thus embodied this sentiment; “How,” says one of his Characters, “How foolish am I, who whereas I might have shared equally, idly numbered among the multitude of the army ... for them that are busy and meddlesome [Jove hates],” because the generality of mankind seek their own good and hold that this is their proper business. It is then from this opinion that the notion has arisen that such men are the Practically-Wise. And yet it is just possible that the good of the individual cannot be secured independently of connection with a family or a community. And again, how a man should manage his own affairs is sometimes not quite plain, and must be made a matter of inquiry.

A corroboration of what I have said is the fact, that the young come to be geometricians, and mathematicians, and Scientific in such matters, but it is not thought that a young man can come to be possessed of Practical Wisdom: now the reason is, that this Wisdom has for its object particular facts, which come to be known from experience, which a young man has not because it is produced only by length of time.

By the way, a person might also inquire why a boy may be made a mathematician but not Scientific or a natural philosopher. Is not this the reason? that mathematics are taken in by the process of abstraction, but the principles of Science and natural philosophy must be gained by experiment; and the latter young men talk of but do not realise, while the nature of the former is plain and clear.

Again, in matter of practice, error attaches either to the general rule, in the process of deliberation, or to the particular fact: for instance, this would be a general rule, “All water of a certain gravity is bad;” the particular fact, “this water is of that gravity.”

And that Practical Wisdom is not knowledge is plain, for it has to do with the ultimate issue, as has been said, because every object of action is of this nature.

To Intuition it is opposed, for this takes in those principles which cannot be proved by reasoning, while Practical Wisdom is concerned with the ultimate particular fact which cannot be realised by Knowledge but by Sense; I do not mean one of the five senses, but the same by which we take in the mathematical fact, that no rectilineal figure can be contained by less than three lines, i.e. that a triangle is the ultimate figure, because here also is a stopping point.

This however is Sense rather than Practical Wisdom, which is of another kind.


Now the acts of inquiring and deliberating differ, though deliberating is a kind of inquiring. We ought to ascertain about Good Counsel likewise what it is, whether a kind of Knowledge, or Opinion, or Happy Conjecture, or some other kind of faculty. Knowledge it obviously is not, because men do not inquire about what they know, and Good Counsel is a kind of deliberation, and the man who is deliberating is inquiring and calculating. [Sidenote:1142b]

Neither is it Happy Conjecture; because this is independent of reasoning, and a rapid operation; but men deliberate a long time, and it is a common saying that one should execute speedily what has been resolved upon in deliberation, but deliberate slowly.

Quick perception of causes again is a different faculty from good counsel, for it is a species of Happy Conjecture. Nor is Good Counsel Opinion of any kind.

Well then, since he who deliberates ill goes wrong, and he who deliberates well does so rightly, it is clear that Good Counsel is rightness of some kind, but not of Knowledge nor of Opinion: for Knowledge cannot be called right because it cannot be wrong, and Rightness of Opinion is Truth: and again, all which is the object of opinion is definitely marked out.

Still, however, Good Counsel is not independent of Reason, Does it remain then that it is a rightness of Intellectual Operation simply, because this does not amount to an assertion; and the objection to Opinion was that it is not a process of inquiry but already a definite assertion; whereas whosoever deliberates, whether well or ill, is engaged in inquiry and calculation.

Well, Good Counsel is a Rightness of deliberation, and so the first question must regard the nature and objects of deliberation. Now remember Rightness is an equivocal term; we plainly do not mean Rightness of any kind whatever; the [Greek: akrataes], for instance, or the bad man, will obtain by his calculation what he sets before him as an object, and so he may be said to have deliberated rightly in one sense, but will have attained a great evil. Whereas to have deliberated well is thought to be a good, because Good Counsel is Rightness of deliberation of such a nature as is apt to attain good.

But even this again you may get by false reasoning, and hit upon the right effect though not through right means, your middle term being fallacious: and so neither will this be yet Good Counsel in consequence of which you get what you ought but not through proper means.

Again, one man may hit on a thing after long deliberation, another quickly. And so that before described will not be yet Good Counsel, but the Rightness must be with reference to what is expedient; and you must have a proper end in view, pursue it in a right manner and right time.

Once more. One may deliberate well either generally or towards some particular End. Good counsel in the general then is that which goes right towards that which is the End in a general way of consideration; in particular, that which does so towards some particular End.

Since then deliberating well is a quality of men possessed of Practical Wisdom, Good Counsel must be “Rightness in respect of what conduces to a given End, of which Practical Wisdom is the true conception.” [Sidenote: X 1143a] There is too the faculty of Judiciousness, and also its absence, in virtue of which we call men Judicious or the contrary.

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