chapter  3
20 Pages

Aristotelian Constructivism

My claim that Aristotle’s analysis of phronêsis in terms of phronetic perception aims at clarifying the ontological status of prakta seems to be at odds with the general framework of the Nicomachean Ethics, inasmuch as Aristotle’s intention is to provide us with a practical science whose end “is not knowledge but action” (1095a 5-6). To put it differently, the main issue is why Aristotle has inserted ontological questions into the core of the Nicomachean Ethics, Book 6 (I employ here the term ‘ontological’ in a broad sense as characterizing any analysis of what something is). As a matter of fact, not only the distinctions demarcating phronêsis, technê, sophia, science and intellect (and their respective objects) from one another but also the question of what action and production are (Book 6, iv-v) seem to merit no proper place within a treatise that intends to describe the goodness of moral action and its pre-conditions. In other words, if the ontological inquiry into action and prakta were of no moral relevance, it should have been excluded from the practical treatise Aristotle has bequeathed to us. The only reply that entirely does justice to this presumed oddity is to be maintained that the ontological analysis at issue may conceal practical signifi cance, that is to say, that ethics may reveal the principles of the goodness of moral action by means of a proper understanding of what moral action is.