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What Does Prudent Mean In The Bible?

What Does Prudent Mean In The Bible?

What does prudent mean in the Bible?

The prudence (in Greek frónesis, of fronéo. “I have judgment, I think straight, I advise”; in Latin prudentia, of providens) is, from the antiquity, a skill linked to praxis, the virtuous capacity to regulate in a convenient and orderly manner the actions to reach an established end.

The speculative effort of ancient philosophers came to distinguish the prudence of science and politics (Plato, Prot. 352c; Aristotle, Eth. Ad Nic. 6, 8). In the Latin world, the rationality of prudence, its connection with wisdom, stands out above all.

In the Old Testament, terms equivalent to fronitis appear indicating understanding, insight, intelligence. In the New Testament prudence is described in terms of behavior appropriate to reason, of observance of the will of God, of discernment (dokimazein) (Mt 7 24-27 ′, Lc 16,1-9. Rom 8,5; 1 1,25: 12,16 1 Cor 1,17-21; 1’4,20; Flp 3,19), In Western reflection postponing prudence retains its characteristic of virtue that directs the action adequately towards a end; that is why it is an intellectual virtue, that perfects the reason, and moral, in that it perfects the practical reason (St. Thomas, S. Th. 11-11, q. 47, he, 4c goes, 1 3) .
Successively, the division of philosophy into theory and practice was fundamentally resolved in an ever-increasing undervaluation of prudence considered as an extrinsic means to give effect to the action.

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The Anglo-Saxon tradition (Hume) includes prudence about the observance of the minor; It is also appreciated for its role in suppressing human passions. In later thinkers, prudence still has an important role in moral systematics (Kant relates it to the hypothetical imperative); that is, it maintains a semantics of moral reference.


Prudence, as a virtue that perfects practical reason (hence the traditional definition of prudence as a straight ratio agibilium: a straight reason for things to do ”), does not have its object, like the other virtues. Still, it is present in every virtuous act with its circumstances (moral judgment in particular), POI is its particular physiognomy, prudence is placed within the dynamism of the entire genesis of the moral decision, The discursive structure of human knowledge makes a virtue of discernment necessary objective of moral good, of man’s true good; it demands a virtuous discipline of the activity of practical reason that values ​​the circumstances of a moral act and effects the hierarchy of goods.

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So, There are several secondary virtues that are part of prudence: circumspection, deliberation, caution, sagacity, docility, etc.


In the current moral discussion, prudence appears in terms of rationality that determines behavior (normative ethics), but – especially in the Anglo-Saxon world – it is also homologated to an instrumental rationality of typically modern worship, which addresses the behavioral modules of the work conscious human (intentional and not only finalized) in any field (praxis philosophy and normative ethics).

T Rossi
Bibl .: Tomás de Aquino, Summa Theologiae, De Prudentia, 11-11, qq 47-56; D Mongillo, Prudencia, in NDTM 1551-1570; D Tettamanzi, Prudencia, in DTI, III, 936-960: J Pieper Prudencia and temperance, Madrid 1969
PACOMIO, Luciano [et al.], Encyclopedic Theological Dictionary, Divine Word, Navarra, 1995


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