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Phronesis as the Sense of the Event


  • Ole Fogh Kirkeby


In this article, the Greek concept of phronesis is analyzed on the basis of its philosophical roots, and the indispensability of its strong normative content is emphasized. This creates a distance to most of the recent understanding of phronesis as prudence, and hence as practical wisdom with a pragmatic and strategic content. The strong dilemmas created by the normative background of real phronesis presents management and leadership as a choice in every situation. From this foundation, phronesis is interpreted as primarily the sense of the event, and an alternative concept of the event is developed. The presentation of the event also demands a theory of the relation of mind and matter, and hence of the body in the event. This is achieved under inspiration from Stoic philosophy. With this in mind, the more serious approaches to practical wisdom: phronesis as determinant of meta-concepts of research; phronesis as a liberating organizational strategy of learning; phronesis as a strategy of knowledge management; phronesis as a narrative strategy; and phronesis as the capacity of the leader, are presented and analyzed. Finally lines are drawn as to the importance of the consciousness of the event and of its theoretical implications, such as through the concept of phronesis for action research.

Suggested Citation

  • Ole Fogh Kirkeby, 2009. "Phronesis as the Sense of the Event," International Journal of Action Research, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 5(1), pages 69-113.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:ijares:doi_10.1688/1861-9916_ijar_2009_01_kirkeby

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    phronesis; the theory of the event; the sense of the event; ethical imagination; radical normativity;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income


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