by Intelligence and not reached by reasoning: in demonstrations, Intelligence apprehends
the immutable and primary definitions, in practical inferences,1
it apprehends the
ultimate and contingent fact, and the minor, premise, since these are the first principles
from which the end is inferred, as general rules are based on particular cases; hence we
must have perception of particulars, and this immediate perception is Intelligence.2
This is why it is thought that these qualities are a natural gift, and that a man is
considerate, understanding and intelligent by nature, though no one is a wise man by
That this is so is indicated by our thinking of
them as going with certain ages: we say that at such and such an age a man must have got
intelligence and considerateness, which implies that they come by nature.
[Hence Intelligence is both a beginning and an end, for these things are both
the starting-point and the subject matter of demonstration.]3
Consequently the unproved assertions and opinions of experienced and elderly people, or
of prudent men,4
are as much deserving of attention as those which
they support by proof; for experience has given them an eye for things, and so they see
We have now discussed the nature and respective spheres of Prudence and Wisdom, and have
shown that each is the virtue of a different part of the soul.12.
But the further question may be raised, What is the use of these intellectual virtues?
Wisdom does not consider the means to human happiness at all, for it does not ask how anything comes into existence. Prudence, it
must be granted, does do this; but what do we need it for? seeing that it studies that
which is just and noble and good for man, but these are the things that a good man does by
nature. Knowing about them does not make us any more capable of doing them, since the
virtues are qualities of character; just as is the case with the knowledge of what is
healthy and vigorous—using these words to mean not productive of health and
vigor but resulting from them: we are not rendered any more capable of healthy and
vigorous action by knowing the science of medicine or of physical training.
If on the other hand we are to say that Prudence is useful not in helping us to act
virtuously but in helping us to become virtuous, then it is of no use to those who are
virtuous already. Nor is it of any use either to those who are not, since we may just as
well take the advice of others who possess Prudence as possess Prudence ourselves. We may
be content to do as we do in regard to our health; we want to be healthy, yet we do not
Moreover it would seem strange if Prudence, which is inferior to Wisdom, is nevertheless
to have greater authority than Wisdom: yet the faculty that creates a thing5
governs and gives orders to it.
Let us now therefore discuss these difficulties, which so far have only been stated.