“Phronesis: reflections on rationality and practical wisdom”

March 1, 2024 | 9:00AM
Social Sciences, Room 122

We are pleased to announce that The Center for Hellenic Studies  at the University of Chicago is oganizing a conference on Phronesis on March 1-2, 2024, in collaboration with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) on the basis of a recent initiative between the University of Chicago and the CNRS for the advancement of innovative research. 

Our aim is to explore how we might engage with a set of foundational Hellenic texts, as we consider urgent contemporary questions and try to find solutions. In every epoch, new ethical ideas are needed to enable humanity to thrive and advance. Today, as we grapple with unprecedented technological advances that bring great new challenges— including the climate crisis, rising inequalities, and war—  we hope to be able to establish a dialogue between philosophical and more applied fields in the direction of renewing conversation with potential practical implications.Aristotle's notion of phronesis—typically translated as practical wisdom, or prudence  is a useful guiding principle due to its unique way of understanding human agency by balancing between opposites: rationality and emotion, universal principles and concern for particular problems and action, pragmatism and utopianism, rigidity and flexibility.

Phronesis is suggested by Aristotle to be the principle guiding decision making: it is the rationality that addresses things that depend on choice and  defines good and ethical agency. In the conference, we intend to explore how phronesis can be used to define good agency in a variety of fields. 

Please see full program below.