Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus, Live Wisely:
The greatest virtue and the basis for all virtues is prudence. Prudence, the art of practical wisdom, is something even more valuable than philosophy, because all other virtues spring from it...For the virtues are inseparable from a happy life, and living happily is inseparable from the virtues.
I'm trying to understand how all virtues could possibly stem from prudence (in an Epicurean manner) and what that implies for the definition/meaning of virtue in this context. Are virtues, then, values and morals that further instill prudence?
I'll draw a comparison - Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 1, Chapter 1:
We suppose artists to be wiser than men of experience (which implies that Wisdom depends in all cases rather on knowledge); and this because the former know the cause, but the latter do not...thus we view them as being wiser not in virtue of being able to act, but of having the theory for themselves and knowing the causes.
The picture I'm getting here is a chicken-or-egg difference. It seems like Epicurus believes that prudence supersedes knowledge as a virtue, as one guided by prudence will use knowledge to better deduce consequences of their actions/behaviour to live more pleasurably, and thus more wisely.
However, one could say that without prior knowledge (of say prudence, or a vague idea of what it might mean to live pleasurably etc), how could one possibly arrive at accurately deducing information and thus living wisely?
Does then Epicurus' words imply that to live by way of 'trial and error', adjusting choices accordingly, is to live more wisely than the philosopher?
EDIT: added from comments
Otherwise it appears that someone who is accidentally prudent is living well and wise, perhaps more so than a student of Aristotle!