Plato's Sophist [142-143]

The question is to what extent the various modes of ἀληθεύειν succeed in disclosing and preserving the being in its ἀρχή, i.e., to what extent they succeed in grasping the being in its proper Being and at the same time, as ἕξις, succeed in holding fast to it. Aristotle discussed these matters first of all in regard to ἐπιστήμη and τέχνη. Τέχνη anticipates in the εἶδος the ἀρχή, the τέλος, but it does not succeed in grasping it in the ἔργον. Even in ἐπιστήμη, no genuine grasping of the ἀρχή takes place. What then is the case regarding the disclosure and preservation of the ἀρχή in φρόνησις and σοφία?

§21. Exposition of the further tasks: the relation of φρόνησις
and of σοφία to the ἀρχαί. Σοφία: νοῦς καὶ ἐπιστήμη.
The task of the clarification of the βουλεύεσθαι of the
mode of carrying out φρόνησις.

We have seen that σοφία is in a certain sense ἐπιστήμη; it makes use of the ἀρχαί. But it is also νοῦς. It is νοῦς καὶ ἐπιστήμη (1141a19f.). It is precisely νοῦς which, in the proper sense, aims at the ἀρχαί and discloses them. Now σοφία is not pure νοεῖν. The νοεῖν operative in σοφία is carried out by man within speech; σοφία is μετὰ λόγου (Nic. Eth. VI, 6, 1140b31 ff.). At the same time, σοφία is not sheer διαλέγεσθαι, but is in a certain sense νοεῖν. The νοεῖν of νοῦς itself, however, would be ἄνευ λόγου.

How do these connections lie in φρόνησις? Can φρόνησις disclose and preserve the ἀρχή of the beings at which it aims? The analysis of the beings which are thematic in φρόνησις will be difficult because φρόνησις itself also belongs in a certain manner to those beings which are its theme. For the object of φρόνησις is πρᾶξις, the ζωή of man, human Dasein itself. To action itself pertains deliberation, the becoming transparent of the acting itself. The transparency is not a mode of onlooking which considers disinterestedly how the action could appear. Φρόνησις is included in its own theme; it itself occurs among the beings it is supposed to disclose. This is how the difficulty of the analyses of the beings which are thematic in φρόνησις is first given, and it is not easy to presentify correctly the phenomenon of φρόνησις at one stroke. It will be shown that φρόνησις, too, is νοῦς and νοεῖν and is a genuine disclosure of the ἀρχή. Since, however, the theme of φρόνησις is πρᾶξις, beings which can be otherwise, and since, accordingly, even the ἀρχαί are ones that can be otherwise, the comportment to these beings will have a completely different structure than the comportment to the ἀεί in σοφία. Insofar as both, φρόνησις and σοφία, each in its own way, are νοῦς, Aristotle recognizes each of them as a βελτίστη ἕξις. Since both are placed on the same level, it will be all the more difficult to decide to what extent the one has a priority over the other.