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Virtue of Aquinas and Machiavelli Essay
(iii) The argument is treated by Aquinas’ commentary as yieldingthe conclusion that felicitas (human happiness orflourishing) consists in a complete life lived in accordance withreason and hence, by entailment, with virtue. But in the SummaTheologiae this is argued to be only an imperfect and incompletefelicitas, and the problematic character of such a concept isapparent from the Summa’s definition offelicitas (and synonymously beatitudo) as perfectgood and complete satisfaction of all desires.
(iv) The “distinctive function” argument is inherentlyunsatisfying in ways that could hardly have failed to be apparent toso able a philosopher as Aquinas. (a) In Aquinas’ rendering, itdepends on the postulate that “nature does nothing invain”, which in turn depends, according to Aquinas, on thepremise that nature is the product of divine creative rationality, apremise which Aquinas himself argues is, though provable, by no meansself-evident. (b) It seems arbitrary to assume that, if there is anappropriate function or operatio of human beings, it must bepeculiar to them. For peculiarity or distinctiveness has no inherentrelationship to practical fittingness, and in fact Aquinas elsewheredenies that rationality is peculiar to human beings since he holdsthat there are other intelligent creatures (the angels, understood tobe created minds unmixed with matter, occupying what would otherwisebe a surprising gap in the hierarchy of beings which ascends from themost material and inactive kinds through the vegetative kinds, theanimal kinds, and the rational animal humankind, to the one utterlyactive and intelligent, non-dependent and uncreated divine being).
Four Cardinal Virtues Essay - Paper Topics
Aquinas arranged the Summa Theologiae’s exposition ofmorality within a classification, not of the goods to which rationalacts are directed, nor of types of act, nor of practicalreason’s standards, but of the virtues. Explicable as areflective theological project of depicting the flourishing ordeviations of human beings in an account of the whole movement ofcreature from their origin to their fulfillment, his decision to adoptthis superstructure has tended to obscure the real foundations of hisethics. As one would expect from the considerations sketched in thepreceding paragraph, his actual arguments about what is right andwrong, virtuous or vicious, get their premises not from analysis ofthe virtues at stake but rather from the principles and more specificstandards, norms, precepts or rules of practical reason(ableness). Itis the conclusions of these arguments that are then re-expressed interms of what is contrary to or in line with one or more of thevirtues.
The virtues, like everything else in one’s will, are a responseto reasons. But practical reasons (i.e. reasons for action) arepropositional: they can be stated as principles and other standards,more or less specific. So principles, ultimately the first principlesof practical reason (that is, of natural law), are more fundamental toethics than virtues are. Aquinas accepts Aristotle’s notion thatevery virtue is a mean between too much and too little, and heconstantly stresses that it is reason — with the principles andrules (regulae) it understands — that settles the meanand thus determines what is too much or too little. Indeed, theprinciples of practical reason (natural law) establish the ends of thevirtues: ST II-II q. 47 a. 6. And the master virtue ofbringing practical reasonableness into all one’s deliberations,choices, and carrying out of choices — the virtue ofprudentia, a virtue both intellectual (of one’sintelligence) and moral (of one’s whole will and character)— is part of the definition, content, and influence of everyother moral virtue: ST I-II q. 65 a. 1, q. 66 a. 3 ad 3,etc.
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Aquinas firmly holds the Platonic-Aristotelian theses (i) of theconnexio virtutum: that to have any of the virtues in itsfull and proper form one must have all of them, and (ii) of thegoverning and shaping role of (the good of) practical reasonableness(bonum rationis), that is, of the intellectual and moralvirtue of prudentia. For some indication why, see 4.4below..
Just as some take Aquinas to hold that concern for one’s ownhappiness is the source of one’s moral motivation and judgment,so some take him to hold that the point of being virtuous is beingvirtuous. But a sounder reading may understand him to hold thatattaining beatitudo and virtus are more likebuilt-in beneficial side-effects of openness to the beatitudoof everyone – that is, of love of neighbor as oneself, accordingto a reasonable order of priorities. What virtue (the state ofcharacter) is praised for, he says, is its actualizing the good ofreason(ableness), and reason is good because it enables one to discernthings for what they truly are – and so, in the practicaldomain, to discern real benefits (bona, opportunities) anddirect one’s choices and actions to bringing them about in thereal people for whom one thereby makes effective one’s love andrespect.
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The discerning, inferring and elaborating of moral principles is atask for practical reasonableness. The judgments one makes in doingthis are together called one’s conscience, in a senseprior to the sense in which conscience is the judgments one passes orcould pass on one’s own acts considered retrospectively. Someonewhose conscience is sound has in place the basic elements of soundjudgment and practical reasonableness, that is of the intellectual andmoral virtue which Aquinas calls prudentia. Fullprudentia requires that one put one’s sound judgmentinto effect all the way down, i.e. into the particulars of choice andaction in the face of temptations to unreasonable but perhaps notunintelligent alternatives.
virtue of aquinas and machiavelli Essay, virtue of aquinas …
These critics reinforce their denial by pointing out that in hisprologue to his commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics,Aquinas teaches that knowledge of things that are what they areindependently of our thought (i.e. of nature) is fundamentallydistinct both from logic and from practical knowledge, one of whosetwo species is philosophia moralis (whose first principles orfundamental oughts are under discussion here)
Philosophy Topic: Aquinas Cardinal Virt - Prime Essay …
The philosophical positions in ethics and politics (including law)that are explored in this article belong to categories (i) and (ii).The moral and political norms stated, for example, in the biblicalDecalogue are, in Aquinas’ view, all knowable independently ofthat revelation, which confirms and perhaps clarifies them. But thepropositions that he holds about what the true last end or ultimatedestiny of human beings actually is belong to category (iii) andcannot be affirmed on any philosophical basis, even though philosophy,he thinks, can demonstrate that they are neither incoherent norcontrary to any proposition which philosophy shows must beaffirmed.
Thomas Aquinas: Happiness, Desire, Virtue - An Interpretation - Dr
Detaching Aquinas’ philosophy from his theology is compatiblewith distinctions he firmly delineates at the beginning of his twomature theological syntheses, the Summa contra Gentiles andthe Summa Theologiae. (i) There are truths, he says, whichare accessible to natural reason, that is, to ordinary experience(including the specialized observations of natural scientists),insight, and reflection; and these include practical truths about goodand evil, right and wrong. (ii) Many of those truths of natural reasonare confirmed, and even clarified, by divine revelation, that is, thepropositions communicated directly or inferentially in the life andworks of Christ, as transmitted by his immediate followers andprepared for in the Jewish scriptures accepted by those followers asrevelatory. (iii) Some of the truths divinely revealed could not havebeen discovered by natural, philosophical reason, even though, onceaccepted, their content and significance can be illuminated by thephilosophically ordered reflection which he calls theology.
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