Against the dominant trends of the scientification and naturalization of philosophy and the concurrent reduction of traditions of practical wisdom to private opinions, this article pleads for a revaluation of philosophy’s original relation with wisdom. It does so by shedding a philosophical light on several related aspects of wisdom through three different lenses. The first one, taken from Aristotle, explores the relation between theoretical and practical wisdom, leading to the conclusion that practical wisdom has to confront general moral principles with particular situations. The second lens, taken from Kant, argues that wisdom offers existential orientation, which requires the combination of an external and an internal moral principle. Yet, the external principle cannot be determined univocally because it is not empirically given. This lack of univocity raises the question of the fate of wisdom in our times, marked by a plurality of existential points of orientation. With the help of a third lens, stemming from Ricoeur, it will be argued that universal moral rules should be amendable to enrichment by ‘potential universals’ embedded in foreign cultures, thus creating a situation of reflexive equilibrium between theoretical and practical wisdom.
- Philosophy, wisdom, Aristotle, existential orientation, Kant, Ricoeur, reflexive equilibrium.