apprehends objects whose ἀρχαί are variable. However φρόνησις is not the same as τέχνη, because "ποίησις aims at an end that is other than itself, whereas in doing [πρᾶξις] the end is not other; doing well [εὐπραξία] is in itself the end" (NE, 1140 b4). In τέχνη, knowledge is directed toward the finished product as the end or τέλος of that knowledge. In φρόνησις, on the other hand, knowledge is directed toward action itself as constitutive of the being of the φρόνιμος, the person of practical wisdom. Φρόνησις is a knowledge attuned to human beings in their singularity and communal being with one another, concerned with the human being as "an origin of actions [ἀρχὴ τῶν πράξεων]" (NE, 1112 b32).16 Accordingly, the ontological disclosure of the object of φρόνησις, the disclosure of the being of the self as an acting, is preserved in this direct and immediate relatedness. Φρόνησις discloses the being of the φρόνιμος in its ontological "truth"; it discloses the truth of my own being as acting here and now. Unlike the ontological disclosure of true being in ἐπιστήμη, this disclosure is bound to the finite temporality of the moment; it is not a general truth already accessible in principle to an independent or supposedly neutral observer.
Aristotle notes that φρόνησις too is commonly associated with a kind of θεωρεῖν concerned with what is good for oneself and for human beings in general (NE, 1140 b10). Yet since the object of φρόνησις is none other than oneself, Aristotle points out that this kind of knowing does not constitute an independent body of knowledge in which we might come to excel. Φρόνησις is not like τέχνη in this regard; it is not an independent knowledge that could be applied to different cases. We cannot therefore speak of excellence in φρόνησις, as we can in the case of τέχνη; rather, φρόνησις itself is an excellence or virtue (ἀρετή) (NE, 1140 b22f.). One cannot be in error in the sense that one's "seeing" would not in some way disclose one's ownmost being—even if only in an implicit manner not transparent to oneself. This also implies that φρόνησις, unlike τέχνη, cannot simply be learned from others; it requires experience of oneself.17 Furthermore, whereas τέχνη is learned and perfected by a process of trial and error, this is not the case in φρόνησις: In ethical action, one cannot, fundamentally, experiment with oneself in the manner in which a τέχνη experiments with its object, namely, in such a way as to be capable of an indifference toward that object (cf. GA 19, 54). For φρόνησις is a seeing ("knowing") of oneself as an acting self, as the self that is acting in any particular situation, and not a seeing
16 Cf. NE, 1139 b6. That the actions and, accordingly, the kind of knowing in question are not those of an isolated "subject," but already embedded in a communal being with others, is indicated by Aristotle when he notes that actions done through our agency, or by us as individuals, may also include those done by our friends, "since the origin of their action is in us" (NE, 1112 b27).
17 On this point, see Hans-Georg Gadamer, GW 1, 322ff.