Dear Prudence

Prudence is a word, I think, that calls to mind its synonyms.  I believe that most people when asked to define the word would say it’s related to wisdom, or perhaps tied to caution.  Certainly when your mother tells you to be prudent, what she’s really saying is to be careful.  When the four classical virtues are mentioned the first and most important is sometimes listed as Wisdom.  The problem with this is that, especially in a modern context, wisdom is seen as something you have or you don’t.  When our culture speaks of the Wise Man, instructions are lacking as to how to become this person.  Suggesting someone be prudent is easier to swallow than telling them to be wise.  It is partially for this reason that the original texts and teachings of stoicism tell us the prime virtue is prudentia.  Prudence. Continue reading