January 10th, 2020 by

Practical Wisdom

The master virtue for Futurists

PRACTICAL WISDOM (phronesis) is a key objective in my work as a futurist. Here are some explanations on what it means:

“The Greek philosopher Plato believed that wisdom was theoretical or abstract. Aristotle, his pupil, disagreed and said that wisdom was available to all, a kind of moral compass that guides our thinking and behavior… To champion human happiness, to flourish, Aristotle believed that wisdom was not for theoretical debate but for practical application. Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe, authors of Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing, distilled Aristotle’s ideas on virtues and practical wisdom and how it applies to our lives” Read more here


“Practical wisdom is akin to the kind of skill that a craftsman needs to build a boat or a house, or that a jazz musician needs to improvise. Except that practical wisdom is not a technical or artistic skill. It is a moral skill—a skill that enables us to discern how to treat people in our everyday social activities. How, then, are we to learn to be practically wise? There is no recipe, formula, or set of techniques. Skills are learned through experience, and so is the commitment to the aims of a practice. That’s why we associate wisdom with experience. But not just any experience will do. Some experiences nurture and teach practical wisdom; others corrode it. And it is here that Aristotle focuses our attention on something critically important: character and practical wisdom must be cultivated by major institutions in which we practice”. From the Practical Wisdom book

What makes a WISE PERSON

  • A wise person knows the proper aims of the activity she is engaged in.
  • A wise person knows how to improvise, balancing conflicting aims and interpreting rules & principles
  • A wise person is perceptive, knows how to read a social context, and knows how to move beyond the black-and-white of rules
  • A wise person knows how to take on the perspective of another—to see the situation as the other person does and thus to understand how the other person feels
  • A wise person knows how to make emotion an ally of reason, to rely on emotion to signal what situation calls for, and to inform judgement without distorting it.
  • He can feel, intuit, or ‘just know’ what the right thing to do is, enabling him to act quickly when timing matters. His emotions and intuitions are well educated.
  •  A wise person is an experienced person. Practical wisdom is a craft and craftsmen are trained by having the right experiences.
People learn how to be brave, said Aristotle, by doing brave things. So, too, with honesty, justice, loyalty, caring, listening, and counselling”
Read more here

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