Cicero on Wisdom and Action

“The foremost of all the virtues is the wisdom that the Greeks call sophia.  (Good sense, which they call phronensis, we realize is something distinct, that is the knowledge of things that one should pursue and avoid.) But the wisdom that I declared to be the foremost is the knowledge of all things human and divine; and it includes the sociability and fellowship of the gods and men with each other.” Cicero, On Duties I. 153. eds. and trans. M.T. Griffin and E.M. Atkins (Cambridge 1991), p.59.  [Italics in original]

While Cicero praised the search for wisdom, he emphasized the social nature of human existence expressed in marriage, the family, and then the larger community. As he wrote: “Moreover, learning about and reflecting upon nature is somewhat truncated and incomplete if it results in no action.  Such action is seen most clearly in the protection of men’s interests and therefore is concerned with the fellowship of the human race.  For that reason this should be ranked above mere learning.” Ibid., pp. 59-60.

This entry was posted in Cicero, virtue, wisdom. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.