Nigel Crisp in Prospect:
More than 2,300 years ago, Aristotle wrote about eudaimonia—commonly translated as human flourishing—and discussed how we can best live our lives. It is a concept that has influenced philosophers through the ages, from Thomas Aquinas to Martha Nussbaum, who have in different ways developed theories about how we can live the good life and fulfil our true capability and potential as human beings.
The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us all just how important these ideas are and shown the interconnection of every aspect of our lives, from health to the economy, the environment and education. As we build for the future, we need to think again about the well-lived life and the values—or virtues, in Aristotle’s terms—by which we live it.
In the 10 manuscripts that make up the Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle also describes the concept of phronesis—practical wisdom—which means, in broad terms, understanding ends and means and the differences between them. Or as we might say today, knowing what is the right thing to do and knowing how to do it.