Practical and Theoretical Wisdom in Management Scholarship: Re-assesing the Use and Appropriations of Aristotle’s Philosophy

Tuomo Peltonen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Within contemporary discussions on organizational wisdom, management scholars frequently turn to Aristotle’s work to conceptualize wisdom as phronesis, or practical wisdom. Contrary to the prevailing view, this paper argues that Aristotle did not propose an exclusively practical or particularistic conception of wisdom but, instead acknowledged that wisdom broadly conceived consists of two types of intellectual virtue: theoretical wisdom (sophia) and practical wisdom. Aristotle’s ultimate position regarding the relations between sophia and phronesis has remained, however, ambiguous, giving rise to different interpretations, and, more substantively, to the major appropriations of Aquinas, Heidegger and Gadamer. An analysis of the philosophical underpinnings of exemplary contributions to management wisdom suggests that research has predominantly applied Heideggerian and Gadamerian understandings of Aristotelian wisdom, while an Aquinian interpretation is largely absent in contemporary elaborations. Interpreting the Aristotelian notion of wisdom as dedicated purely to practical phronesis narrows the discussion on the nature of (organizational) wisdom within an Aristotelian framework in ways that do not give full credit to the breadth and complexity of Aristotle’s thought.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophy of management
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Aristotle
  • Management
  • Philosophy
  • Wisdom

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