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Phrónêsis, Aristotle, and action research

[journal article]

Eikeland, Olav

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Abstract "This article presents an interpretation of Aristotelian phrónêsis and its relevance for action research. After pointing out some insufficiencies in how phrónêsis is applied by other interpreters with relevance for action research, I present my own interpretation of Aristotle’s concept in the wider context of his thinking on intellectual and ethical virtues. The article’s conclusion is that phrónêsis is very important for both action researchers and others. But at the same time, phrónêsis is not a concept that can be adopted by itself, alone, and in isolation from other intellectual and ethical virtues or ways of knowing. Phrónêsis is necessary, but at the same time insufficient. Phrónêsis is not a concept primarily concerned with learning, inquiry, and research. Its primary focus is “application”, performance, or enactment. Action research has a lot to learn from Aristotle, and phrónêsis is definitely among the things to be learned. Aristotle’s praxis-orientation sticks even deeper, however. This more profound praxis-orientation becomes quite invisible by operating with simplified and mutually exclusive divisions between phrónêsis, tékhnê, and epistêmê, and by conflating other distinctions that were important to maintain for Aristotle. Aristotle’s profound praxis-orientation is even more central to action research. It has to do with dialogue or dialectics whose tasks really are fundamentally concerned with learning, inquiry, and research." (author's abstract)
Keywords action research; Aristotle; ethics; social research; practice relevance; concept; wisdom; knowledge production; virtue; moral judgement
Classification Social Psychology; Philosophy, Ethics, Religion
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 5-53
Journal International Journal of Action Research, 2 (2006) 1
ISSN 1861-1303
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications