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Helen Alford

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Germán R. Scalzo and Helen Alford

This chapter aims to provide a better understanding of how the idea of prudence has changed through time, emphasizing the radical shift in the understanding of practical reasoning that took place in modern thought. In order to do that, this chapter first attempts to outline classical thought represented by Aristotle and Aquinas and characterized by the unity of knowledge and action. It then sketches major currents in relation to prudence after that unity broke down, integrated into what is generally called modernist thought, resulting in an understanding of human action as an externality separate from cognition. The difficulties that this paradigm presents for a proper understanding of the connection between practical reasoning, reality and truth are outlined, taking into account that this is not a necessary evolutionary process, but rather a drastic change in how human beings, reality and reason itself are understood. Finally the authors present the MacIntyrean position as representative of the twentieth century’s attempt to go back to basics and recover human action’s practical dimension.