This essay explores practical wisdom (phronesis to the Greeks, prudentia to the Latins), an intellectual virtue, and first among the four cardinal virtues, that connects right reason with action. Practical wisdom, or prudence, is thus a ‘bridge virtue,’ connecting reason and judgment with moral activity. This essay also comments on the parts of prudence, its pivotal role in discerning the path of virtue, and how it differs from look-alikes, or counterfeits such as shrewdness and cunning. Importantly, this essay discusses the relationship of intellect and will, prudence and morality, to show how practical wisdom unites head and heart in practical decision-making. It blurs Aquinas’ strict division between intellectual and moral virtues. Finally, it discusses how divine grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit enhance natural prudence to fit us for our eternal end.
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