The prudential and deceptive pre-classical and mythological concept of rationality mΣtis shares with the Aristotelian conception of practical reason, phronesis the importance of the circumstances, as well as the refusal of submitting political action to a priori rules. MΣtis also shares with phronesis the ability to act according to kairos, and the awareness that political action deals with unpredictability (tyche).
In spite of these similarities, the deceptive nature of mΣtis or cunning rationality does not prevent agents from falling into the hubris of violence, and does not avoid undermining cunning rationality itself, and at least the main aim of politics, to ensure the common good. On the contrary, by precluding the winning of political power through pitfalls and traps, phronesis allows conciliating the refusal of submitting political action to a priori rules with the ability to act according to kairos, and to face unpredictability (tyche), without the political consequences of mΣtis.
We argue that phronesis seems a more consistent approach to political rationality than mΣtis. We also argue that the ethical constrains underlying the refusal of deception are imposed by politics itself.
Regina Queiroz, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal