previous next

Understanding, or Good Understanding, the quality in virtue of which we call men ‘persons of understanding’ or ‘of good understanding,’ is not the same thing as Scientific Knowledge in general (nor yet is it the same as Opinion, for in that case everybody would have understanding), nor is it any one of the particular sciences, as medicine is the science of what pertains to health and geometry the science concerned with magnitudes. [2] For Understanding does not deal with the things that exist for ever and are immutable, nor yet with all of the things that come into existence, but with those about which one may be in doubt and may deliberate. Hence it is concerned with the same objects as Prudence. Understanding is not however the same thing as Prudence; for Prudence issues commands, since its end is a statement of what we ought to do or not to do, whereas Understanding merely makes judgements. (For Understanding is the same as Good Understanding; a ‘man of understanding’ means a man of good understanding.)1 [3]

Thus Understanding does not mean either the possession or the acquisition of Prudence; but when we employ the faculty of Opinion to judge what another person says about matters that are in the sphere of Prudence, we are said to understand (that is, to judge rightly for right judgement is the same as good understanding), in the same way as learning a thing is termed understanding it when we are employing the faculty of Scientific Knowledge. [4] In fact, the use of the term Understanding to denote the quality that makes men ‘persons of good understanding’ is derived from understanding as shown in learning; in fact we often use ‘to learn’ in the sense of ‘to understand.’2

1 This parenthesis would come better in the first section, after the words ‘of good understanding.’ It merely points out that the qualification ‘good’ need not be repeated.

2 μανθάνειν is idiomatically used of understanding what another person says.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: