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Aristotle on Practical vs. Theoretical Knowledge Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2021

Introduction

There is a constant need to consider various arguments and facts to resolve challenges appearing in life. Moral judgments can be associated with practical or theoretical knowledge in the area of interest. This paper aims to explore the difference between the mentioned concepts. Happiness or good comes from a contemplative life that was defined by Aristotle as the one caused by divine inspiration, ensures the selection of the best decision, and allows achieving the highest virtue of pleasure.

Examining Aristotle’s Arguments

Aristotle stated that the pivotal goal of a man is to recess from his or her mind and become more conscious. Henry and Nielsen claim that this was regarded by the philosopher as the highest form of human activity and one of the components of divine inspiration, which is the first argument (50). It seems that the latter should be understood as the prerequisite of happiness since those who balanced their consciousness and environment are able to speculate. In this connection, practical knowledge refers to social life and specific actions, while theoretical knowledge guides them based on intellectual virtues.

The second argument that should be discussed in Aristotle’s view of the idea of pleasure as the way to meet the key function of a person. There are two types of pleasure: good pleasure is beneficial to people, while bad pleasure cannot be sufficient to them since it requires always fulfilling it (Henry and Nielsen 77). According to the mentioned philosopher, practical knowledge in the form of action but not contemplation is the object of practical knowledge. Due to the fact that a person is not capable of being continuously active without any rest, practical knowledge does not provide true happiness (Prior 175). Therefore, theoretical wisdom, which is expressed in the contemplative nature of life in this case, provides virtue that, in combination with activity, is a more viable way to accomplish happiness.

Reasoning is the greatest virtue of a conscious person, as it can be suggested from Aristotle’s statements. Prior assumes that the greatest pleasure, in its turn, is fulfilling the function of a human being, and it is closely related to happiness (182). Since action offers only timely joy, the contemplation may provide longer pondering over one’s life. Nevertheless, it should be stressed that contemplation is not the highest virtue, yet it a reliable means of sustainable self-sufficiency and consciousness.

On the contrary to the discussed arguments, one can claim that practical knowledge is characteristic of the issues learned from the very childhood, while theoretical knowledge is realized sooner in one’s adolescence or adult periods. It seems that Aristotle perceived virtues as the ones granted by nature and developed by the family (Henry and Nielsen 77). In case a child was not taught to contemplate, it may be quite difficult to do apply theoretical wisdom in his or her adulthood. It is possible to suggest that practical knowledge is often the only way to experience happiness. In particular, such people would presumably have problems with the highest pleasure and consciousness, trying to achieve it from actions. Answering this objection, one may state that any person can improve and learn even though it was not developed in childhood.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Aristotle distinguished between theoretical and practical knowledge with regard to pleasure and happiness. Due to its ability to offer the greatest virtue, fulfill the function of a person, and consciousness based on divine inspiration, one should agree that theoretical knowledge is the key to achieve genuine happiness. Leading the contemplative life allows for choosing the best solution possible from a range of options.

Works Cited

Henry, Devin, and Karen Margrethe Nielsen. Bridging the Gap Between Aristotle’s Science and Ethics. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Prior, William J. Virtue and Knowledge: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Ethics. Routledge, 2016.

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1. IvyPanda. "Aristotle on Practical vs. Theoretical Knowledge." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/aristotle-on-practical-vs-theoretical-knowledge/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Aristotle on Practical vs. Theoretical Knowledge." September 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/aristotle-on-practical-vs-theoretical-knowledge/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Aristotle on Practical vs. Theoretical Knowledge'. 14 September.

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