Virtue ethics' founding fathers are Plato and, more particularly Aristotle (its roots in Chinese philosophy are even more ancient) and it persisted as the dominant approach in Western moral philosophy until at least the Enlightenment. It suffered a momentary eclipse during the nineteenth century but re-emerged in the late 1950's in Anglo-American philosophy. It was heralded by Anscombe's famous article "Modern Moral Philosophy" (Anscombe 1958) which crystallised an increasing dissatisfaction with the forms of deontology and utilitarianism then prevailing. Neither of them, at that time, paid attention to a number of topics that had always figured in the virtue ethics' tradition — the virtues themselves, motives and moral character, moral education, moral wisdom or discernment, friendship and family relationships, a deep concept of happiness, the role of the emotions in our moral life and the fundamentally important questions of what sort of person I should be and how we should live.
A standard philosophical definition says that wisdom consists of making the best use of available knowledge. As with any decision, a wise decision may be made with incomplete information. The technical philosophical term for the opposite of wisdom is folly.
In his Metaphysics, Aristotle defines wisdom as knowledge of causes: why things exist in a particular fashion.
In addition to experience there are a variety of other avenues to gaining wisdom. For example, Freethinkers and others believe that wisdom may come from pure reason and perhaps experience, while others believe that it comes from intuition or spirituality.
Beginning with the ancient Greeks, European culture associates wisdom with virtue. Metis and Athene are associated with wisdom from earliest times. For example, many philosophers talk about the virtue of wisdom in relation to courage and moderation, and in the Roman Catholic church, wisdom (Prudence) stands with justice, fortitude and moderation as one of the four cardinal virtues. Plato's dialogues mention the virtue of wisdom, as knowledge about the Good and the courage to act accordingly. The Good would be about the right relations between all that exists. The Good, as a Platonic Form, would involve the perfect ideas of good government, love, friendship, community, and a right relation to the Divine. Perhaps the search or love of wisdom is more important than any proven claim. Socrates only claimed to know that he did not know, but this he was very certain of, and he showed the many contradictions in the claims of his fellow citizens.
· 1 decade ago