What the World Needs Now is Phronesis?!?

Sometimes multi-tasking is a good thing. It has in fact, strengthened the Campus for Communities where I work with a number of other associates as its Founder and Principal Collaborator. 

The grassroots consulting, coaching, and facilitating being done by our associates feeds and shapes the training, tools, and resources we are able to offer via the Campus. In a reciprocal fashion, the training, tools, and resources feed and shape the calibre of what we are able to bring to our respective consulting work.

It works as a methodology - albeit an unexpected one - for curating, simplifying, and ultimately determining that which is meaningful and worth sharing with others who are doing similar work.

It is no accident that every one of our associates has this ability to grasp the essence of particular situations and subjects related to community building. It is in large part the result of a particular kind of knowledge and wisdom they bring.

Many years ago Artistotle described three types of knowledge -  episteme, techne, and phronesis.

Epistme is best described as truth or objective knowledge that focuses on universal applicability independent of time or space.

Techne knowledge refers to technique or technology that is specific to a particular context. 

The third, and the one I believe that is more rare and yet essential in today’s constantly changing world, is phronesis. It is different in that it is about practical wisdom, ethics, and rationality or, what some describe as the ability to determine and undertake the best action in a specific situation to serve the common good. Halverson (2004) suggests that in leadership, phronesis is manifested in the capacity to choose appropriate goals and to successfully devise a way to reach them.

In many ways it is also the ability to grasp the essence of particular situations or things, something I often liken to being able to provide the picture on top of the puzzle box It is also about then being able to convey it clearly to others using the most appropriate language, stories, concepts, or frameworks. Perhaps of greatest significance is that it is also about making judgment based on goodness and what is right, while keeping in mind the common good. In many ways it is about moving beyond asking, “Is it profitable?” because it is also critical to ask, “Is it right?”

In many ways phronesis is ultimately about something we could all use a little bit more of these days - practical wisdom.  Phronesis is also something the Campus for Communities will constantly strive to bring. Stay tuned. 

Posted on 08-02-16

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