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Aristotle on Practical Wisdom

Aristotle on Practical Wisdom

Nicomachean Ethics VI

ISBN 9780674072107

Publication date: 03/25/2013

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Nicomachean Ethics VI is considered one of classical philosophy’s greatest achievements. Aristotle on Practical Wisdom is the first full-scale commentary on this work to be issued in over a century, and is the most comprehensive and philosophically illuminating to date. A meticulous translation coupled with facing-page analysis enables readers to engage directly with the account of phronêsis or practical wisdom that Aristotle is developing, while a full introduction locates that account in the context of his ethical thought and of later ethical thought more generally. The commentary discusses the text line by line, illuminating obscure passages, explaining technical ones, and providing a new overall interpretation of the work and the nature of practical reason.

A companion volume, Action, Contemplation, and Happiness, expands on this interpretation to provide a startling new picture of Aristotle’s thought as a whole. Although the two books can be approached separately, together they constitute one of the most daring and original contemporary readings of Aristotle’s philosophy. Aimed at committed students of these notoriously difficult writings, C. D. C. Reeve’s engaging and lucid books should find a wide audience among philosophers, classicists, and all readers willing to wrestle with a thinker of unparalleled subtlety, depth, and scope.


  • This unusual book by Reeve consists of a translation and analysis of, and commentary on, Book VI of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle’s Book VI deals mainly with the topic of ‘practical wisdom’ and its relationship to ‘theoretical wisdom’ and virtues of character and thought. After a detailed introduction, Reeve presents a translation of Book VI and, on opposite pages, an analysis of the text translated. In the next part of the book, he goes back to the text and presents a considerably exhaustive commentary. The commentary segment of the book is its lengthiest part. Although the analysis and commentary overlap somewhat, this format allows readers to choose which segment to study in detail. As far as this reviewer knows, no other book quite like this exists in modern Aristotelian scholarship; it is somewhat reminiscent of the format of the great medieval classical commentaries. This volume can be read as a companion to Reeve’s outstanding Action, Contemplation, and Happiness: An Essay on Aristotle. Both books are very welcome additions to Aristotelian scholarship.

    —P. A. Streveler, Choice


  • C. D. C. Reeve is Delta Kappa Epsilon Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Book Details

  • 296 pages
  • 1 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Translated with commentary by C. D. C. Reeve