The beaten path is the one of least resistance. Everyone knows that! Now philosophers may meander, often taking the arduous route only to come out the same end. The straight and narrow, the black-and-white, the clear and distinct (sorry Descartes), the pragmatic (sorry, Dewey) the convenient, the cost-efficient (sorry Bentham), the salient, the reasonable, the acceptable, all conscripted notions that fall heavily on the heads of the masses. Socrates was gadfly to Athens – a pestering annoyance, an epithet few philosophers have not managed to have thrown at their feet as they squabble over the fine print, getting lost in abstractions on a cerebral high only they seem to enjoy.
The Greeks may not have been right that knowledge will necessarily bequeath the happiest life, but it certainly makes it more intro-passionately lived…and though existentially taxing, sublimely meaningful. Sometimes setting life as the outward working of a phronetic plan seems to miss the target (sorry, Aristotle) altogether, though. I don’t question the role of practical wisdom, nor still reason (that would be unreasonable!!! 😉 ), but I do question the universal application of this paradigm. Life is not something that can be put under one’s thumb and lived as a postscript to reason and whatever principles or biotic axioms might be espoused from it. Mostly life speaks to the aesthetic in which one is enraptured in the beauty awaiting discovery and this requires not developing only one’s rational propensity, but one’s sensibilities which are best cultivated through the arts. It involves sensitizing oneself to the transient and evolving beauty that surrounds and creating in oneself a relationship of mutuality.
Postscript: No. I’m not contra-Aristotle. But I come at the aretic view from a different ultimate standpoint. I have existential leanings that loosely argue that there are no objective standards to ground all judgment. Does that mean that judgment is subjective and anything issued in earnest by the subject is true and right, and thereby impervious to judgment? Actually, no. That would be a rather naive view of subjectivism which owes many confusions to it’s presumed dichotomous relation to the objective. Inter-subjectivity probably best describes the proper rendering of the type of subjectivity defended, and it begins with the primordial positioning of the humankind already in-the-world-with-others and working out structures within which existence can be authenticated. Still, I do not reject aretic thinking, anymore than I reject the advice my physician gives me when I seek out medical advice. Rather within a particular paradigm of meaning prescripts are meaningful and “true”.