Phronesis in the
Classroom: The Aristotelian Model of Moral Education as a Foundation for Active Learning
In ancient Greek philosophy, the concept of phronesis represented a
specific form of knowledge: the ability to determine how to act virtuously.
This idea is developed most completely in Book VI of Aristotle’s Nicomachean
Ethics. There Aristotle distinguishes between two types of intellectual
virtues—sophia and phronesis. The former concerns ‘theoretical
knowledge’ and universal truths, whereas the latter involves the use of reason
to reflect on proper actions and to conduct oneself appropriately. As a result,
phronesis is often translated in English as ‘practical wisdom.’ Helping
individuals develop their capacity for practical reflection and virtuous action
was for Aristotle, therefore, a form of moral education.