♠Aristotle’s Three Types of Knowledge in The Nichomachean Ethics: “Techné, Episteme and Phronesis”:
In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (384 /322) describes three approaches to knowledge. In Greek, the three are episteme, techné and phronesis.
Whereas episteme concerns theoretical know why and techné denotes technical know how, phronesis emphasizes practical knowledge and practical ethics.
Aristotle classified knowledge in three different types Episteme (Scientific Knoledge), Techné (Skill and crafts) and Phronesis (Wisdom).
1.►Episteme: It means “to know” in Greek. It is related to scientific knowledge. Attributes: Universal, invariable, context-independent. Based on general analytical rationality. Epistemology, the study of knowledge, is derived from episteme.
Episteme was viewed by the Greeks as a partner to techné. Plato used episteme to denote ‘justified true belief”, in contrast to doxa, common belief or opinion.
2.►Techné: The greek word translates to craftsmanship, craft, or art.
In the Dictionary of Philosophy, it is defined as: “The set of principles, or rational method, involved in the production of an object or the accomplishment of an end; the knowledge of such principles or method; art. Techne resembles episteme in implying knowledge of principles, but differs in that its aim is making or doing, not disinterested understanding”.
Characteristics: Pragmatic, variable, context-dependent. Oriented toward production. Based on practical instrumental rationality governed by a conscious goal. The original concept appears today in terms such as “technique” and “technology.”
For the ancient Greeks, when techné appears as art, it is most often viewed negatively, whereas when used as a craft it is viewed positively because a craft is the practical application of an art, rather than art as an end in itself. In “The Republic”, written by Plato, the knowledge of forms is the indispensable basis for the philosophers craft of ruling in the city.
Aristotle viewed techné as an imperfect human representation of nature. Socrates and Plato also used the word, and distinguished craftsmanship (which they viewed in a positive light) from art (which they viewed in a negative light).
3.►Phronesis It means Practical wisdom. It is related to the following main ideas: Ethics. Deliberation about values with reference to praxis. Pragmatic, variable, context dependent. Oriented toward action. Based on practical value-rationality.
In order to practice phronesis, Aristotle felt that political abilities were required, as well as thinking abilities. Aristotle categorized there elements of character (ethos) in the following manner: 1) phronesis (how to act in particular situations), 2) areté (virtue) and 3) eunoia (goodwill).-
♠Quotes From Aristotle´s “Nicomachean Ethics”:
“Techné, Episteme and Phronesis”:
“What science [episteme] is…will be clear from the following argument. We all assume that what we know cannot be otherwise than it is, whereas in the case of things that may be otherwise, when they have passed out of our view we can no longer tell whether they exist or not. Therefore, the object of scientific knowledge is of necessity. Therefore it is eternal… Induction introduces us to first principles and universals, while deduction starts from universals… Thus scientific knowledge is a demonstrative state, (i.e., a state of mind capable of demonstrating what it known)…i.e., a person has scientific knowledge when his belief is conditioned in a certain way, and the first principles are known to him; because if they are not better known to him than the conclusion drawn from them, he will have knowledge only incidentally”. [N.E. 1139b18-36].
“Since building is an art [techné] and is essentially a reasoned productive state, and since there is no art that is not a state of this kind, and no state of this kind that is not an art, it follows that art is the same as a productive state that is truly reasoned. Every art is concerned with bringing something into being, and the practice of an art is the study of how to bring into being something that is capable either of being or of not being…For it is not with things that are or come to be of necessity that art is concerned [this is the domain of episteme] nor with natural objects (because these have their origin in themselves)…Art…operates in the sphere of the variable”. [N.E. 1140a1-23].
“We may grasp the nature of prudence [phronesis] if we consider what sort of people we call prudent. Well, it is thought to be the mark of a prudent man to be able to deliberate rightly about what is good and advantageous…But nobody deliberates about things that are invariable…So…prudence cannot be science or art; not science [episteme] because what can be done is a variable (it may be done in different ways, or not done at all), and not an art [techne] because action and production are generically different. For production aims at an end other than itself; but this is impossible in the case of action, because the end is merely doing well. What remains, then is that it is a true state, reasoned, and capable of action with regard to things that are good or bad for man. We consider that this quality belongs to those who understand the management of households or states”. [N.E. 1140a24-1140b12].
♠Attached Notes: “Techné, Episteme in Plato´s Republic“:
Plato’s uses the notion of techné as a way of explicating central themes, such as virtue, ruling, and the creation of the cosmos. First of all, a craft has a function (ergon); this is what it characteristically does or what it characteristically accomplishes. In fact, he highlights that crafts are differentiated by their specific functions (erga) (Rep. 346a).
While the ergon of a craft is its goal, the goal is frequently identified with a result separate from the activity of the craft. Whereas techné is associated with knowing how to do (epistasthai) certain activities, episteme sometimes indicates a theoretical component of techné, associated then with understanding (gnôsis).
For Plato, Knowledge (episeême) is the ability to know the real as it is (Rep 477b). Knowledge, in the sense of episteme, will be deductive and logical, like mathematics; unlike mathematics, its deductions will be based on foundations that need no further justification. In part it will be something like mathematical deduction based in fundamental reality. When using mathematical thinking as an analogue for dialectic, Platon is still relying on the notion of technê since both geometry and calculation are technai. So even though he distinguishes between techné and episteme, their relation is more of a tension than a divorce.