[SydPhil] Title/Abstract for Brennan McDavid's Sydney Uni Dept Seminar

Brian Hedden brian.hedden at sydney.edu.au
Thu Oct 1 12:22:50 AEST 2015

Here's the title and abstract for Brennan McDavid's (Ormond) department seminar talk at Sydney Uni this Wed, Oct 7 from 1-2:30 pm in the Muniment Room. Hope to see you there!

Title: Knowledge in Aristotle's Best Life


Aristotle says the best human life is the life of contemplation (EN 10.8 1178b28ff.). Such a life is possible only for someone who has philosophical wisdom—what Aristotle calls “sophia”—since contemplation just is the activity of mulling over, studying, and gazing upon the things known through that special wisdom. Philosophers are the contemplators and, therefore, the happiest of us all. I will argue that the contemplative life is happiest only if one further, perhaps seemingly extrinsic, condition is met: the contemplator must have practical wisdom (phronesis) in addition to her philosophical wisdom (sophia). The former is “the quality of mind concerned with things just and noble and good for human beings” (EN 6.12 1143b19-21). Because Aristotle is committed to the absolute divorce between practical and philosophical wisdom, and because he assigns to the former and withholds from the latter any appreciation and understanding of what is good in a human life, he is committed also to the idea that a contemplatorqua contemplator does not know the human value of his own activities and that only a practical wise person in a position to have such knowledge.
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