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and people think that the man who knows and minds his own business is prudent, and that politicians are busybodies: thus Euripides writes— “ Would that be prudent? when I might have lived
A quiet life, a cipher in the crowd,
Sharing the common fortune. . .
Restless, aspiring, busy men of action. . .

1 For people seek their own good, and suppose that it is right to do so. Hence this belief has caused the word ‘prudent’ to mean those who are wise in their own interest. Yet probably as a matter of fact a man cannot pursue his own welfare without Domestic Economy and even Politics. Moreover, even the proper conduct of one's own affairs is a difficult problem, and requires consideration. [5]

A further proof of what has been said2 is, that although the young may be experts in geometry and mathematics and similar branches of knowledge, we do not consider that a young man can have Prudence. The reason is that Prudence includes a knowledge of particular facts, and this is derived from experience, which a young man does not a possess; [6] for experience is the fruit of years.3 (One might indeed further enquire why it is that, though a boy may be a mathematician, he cannot be a metaphysician or a natural philosopher.4 Perhaps the answer is that Mathematics deals with abstractions, whereas the first principles of Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy are derived from experience: the young can only repeat them without conviction of their truth,5 whereas the formal concepts of Mathematics are easily understood.) [7] Again, in deliberation there is a double possibility of error: you may go wrong either in your general principle or in your particular fact: for instance, either in asserting that all heavy water is unwholesome, or that the particular water in question is heavy. [8]

And it is clear that Prudence is not the same as Scientific Knowledge: for as has been said, it apprehends ultimate particular things, since the thing to be done is an ultimate particular thing.6 [9]

Prudence then stands opposite to Intelligence; for Intelligence7 apprehends definitions, which cannot be proved by reasoning, while Prudence deals with the ultimate particular thing, which cannot be apprehended by Scientific Knowledge, but only by perception: not the perception of the special senses,8 but the sort of intuition whereby we perceive that the ultimate figure in mathematics is a triangle9; for there, too, there will be a stop.10 But the term perception applies in a fuller sense to mathematical intuition than to Prudence; the practical intuition of the latter belongs to a different species.1112 9. We ought also to ascertain the nature of Deliberative Excellence, and to discover whether it is a species of Knowledge, or of Opinion, or skill in Conjecture, or something different from these in kind. [2]

Now it is not Knowledge: for men do not investigate matters about which they know,

1 From the lost Philoctetes of Euripides, frr. 785, 786 Dindorf. The third line went on ‘with the wisest. . . . For there is naught so foolish as a man! Restless, aspiring, busy men of action We honor and esteem as men of mark. . .’

2 The reference seems to be to 7.7, where it is stated that Prudence takes cognizance of particular facts. The intervening passage, examining the relation of Prudence to Political Science, emphasizes its other aspect, the apprehension of general principles.

3 The Greek looks like a buried verse quotation.

4 The three divisions of the subject matter of Wisdom.

5 Immelmann's emendation gives ‘can only take them on credit from others.’

6 Cf. 8.2 above, 7.7, and 3.3.12.

7 See notes on 6.2 and 11.4. Definitions are the first principles of science.

8 Literally ‘of the objects peculiar to the special senses.’ Shape was one of the ‘common sensibles,’ perceived through the medium of more than one of the special senses, by the ‘common sense.’

9 A triangle is the last form into which a rectilinear figure can be divided: two straight lines cannot enclose a space. Or the words may possibly mean ‘whereby we perceive that a particular mathematical figure is [for example] a triangle.’ But this would rather be expressed by τοδὶ τὸ ἔσχατον, or τοδί alone.

10 That is, we reach the limit of analysis just as much when we descend to particulars as when we ascend to first principles or definitions (Burnet). Or the words may mean ‘in mathematics as in problems of conduct there is a point where analysis must stop.’

11 The intuition of particular facts which is a part of Prudence also belongs to the genus perception, but it is intellectual, not sensuous. The Greek may however conceivably mean, ‘But the intuition of the ultimate particular in problems of conduct approximates more to sensation than to prudence, though it is a different species from the perception of the separate senses.’

12 In the mss. the chapter begins with the sentence ‘But deliberation,’ etc., here transferred to the middle of 9.2.

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