Thomas develops further this philosophical doctrine into a general teaching concerning supernatural wisdom theological virtues, beatitudes, gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. This personalist doctrine, however, is wholly distinct from individualism, which has no doctrine of the common good bonum commune.
It is precisely because certain actions, e. This philosophical doctrine of the ultimate end is not the same as the "one thing needful" as interpreted in the mystical tradition, for example. Bonum in communi is the good of the will, and hence of the man. Yet the various faculties have each their own particular goods which it is natural for man to desire as well as the bonum in communi as such.
As Maritain says, again, the natural desire for God is just one of man's desires. There is a hierarchy of the natural inclinations, from which indeed the order of the precepts of the natural law is derived Ia-IIae 94, 2. Man has, for example, a natural desire to marry, to live in political society and so on. On the other hand, the supernatural doctrine of "using the world as though one used it not" seems prefigured in statements by Plato and Aristotle such as when the latter says that just a little of the contemplation of divine truth is worth more than all the other goods together and that the wise person should practise death athanatizein in relation to these things for the sake of gaining wisdom.
This Aristotelian ideal of scientific study, knowledge in this world, as being the finis ultimus, is knowingly transposed by St. Thomas into a doctrine of divine vision only to be realised in eternity. Yet, and again in contrast to Aristotle, he states that it is necessary to know what the end is in order to live well. De ratione praecepti est quod importet ordinem ad finem, inquantum scilicet illud praecipitur quod est necessarium vel expediens ad finem.
This is a basic principle for St. He argues like this: the precept of the law, since it is obligatory, concerns something which ought to be done. But that something ought to be done arises from the necessity of some end. In other words, he has absolutely nothing to do with any theory of pure duty or obligation, duty, that is, as divorced from any good to be sought.
This is not to deny that duty can indeed receive a sacred character, as being divinely commanded, but one must consider that in the divine wisdom it is given to us as essentially a means to an end, at least in the general sense of propter finem. For this is so even if the behaviour commanded e.
In that case it is a necessary condition for the end, i. Love one another. Because then you will be children of God, like him, and so all will be well cp. So to give oneself up to love is to understand that this is the way to life and joy. If one did not believe this, then to proclaim that one "lives for others" would seem merely perverse.
The Meaning of Virtue in St. Thomas Aquinas
Why do it, if no good comes of it cp. It is only the good coming from it that makes love itself intrinsically good, i.
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The whole philosophy of pure duty as found in Kant and some other writers might thus seem to be a mistake. Its roots can be traced back to those fourteenth century theologians who argued that the divine commands had to be arbitrary in order to safeguard the freedom and absolute power of God potentia absoluta Dei. One must only obey, and not pretend to understand what has no foundation other than the infinite divine liberty. But this seems to destroy any definite idea of God. One should rather see the divine commands and teaching as expressing how God is cp.
John: "God is love". That, after all, is why they are put forward as a divine pedagogy, teaching man the way to God. Thus ethics is explained as essentially teleological, related to the ends and purposes of life, to the element of purpose in natural reality. Aristotelian ethics is built up by analogy or even in univocal conformity with the rest of nature, which is seen as ordered to an end, ultimately to God. Hence, for example, St. Thomas's fifth argument via quinta for God's existence argues from the element of order, and hence of order to an end, in nature to the existence of an ordering intelligence as cause of that order.
Thus Aristotle argues that men, too, like everything else, must be ordered to an end, for the sake of which the various moral precepts, and the corresponding need to develop virtues, impose themselves. Around the seventeenth century, however, this teleological view of nature became obscured, being replaced by a mechanist view which explained things in terms of efficient causality only. Final causality was denied, or at least regarded as unknowable. The bird flies because it has wings efficient causality ; it does not have wings in order to fly finality.
This development could only weaken the traditional explanation of moral reality as needed for the good life  , leading either to empiricist utilitarianism Bentham, Mill or to rationalist formalism Kant , both of which agree in denying the existence of real or natural ethical laws. Thus Kant's categorical imperative tells us to adopt principles which we could wish were universal laws. The imperative is itself a merely formal, a priori requirement of reasoning, but why such consistency should be preferred above the other goods of life is not made clear.
For in this rationalist philosophy of the time of the Enlightenment no reason is given for human dignity sufficient for making obligatory any duty of acting according to reason, while the Kantian notion of freedom consists in a purely negative freedom of constraint from any kind of determinate human nature. That this negativity does not itself imply any kind of dignity is clearly brought out by Sartre, who uses the same negative concept of freedom and whose book, Being and Nothingness, ends with the statement that "man is a useless passion", since, he claims, "man is what he makes himself and nothing else.
Thomas and the tradition it is necessary to show the spirituality of reason, and even that it is a reflection of the divine reality this is how St. Thomas defines natural law, which is only law on this supposition , if one is metaphysically to guarantee the possibility of any truth at all veritas est in mente and hence establish the dignity of the human soul or mind. Today, in any case, there is a move to reinstate teleology in nature, as would implicitly be required by a natural law or teleological ethics. Meanwhile the name of teleology has been misappropriated by theologians calling themselves "consequentialists" or "proportionalists" who teach what is really a variety of utilitarianism in the sense of a refusal to admit moral absolutes referred to external human acts cf.
John Paul II's Veritatis splendor, nn. True teleology, on the other hand, does not require us to deny that there are intrinsically evil acts. For these are acts which will never lead to the end, which of themselves avert us from the end, from God, on account of their objects.
In traditional theological terminology, they are materially sinful, whatever is to be added concerning the degree of culpability of the agent. Hence a justification of moral principles in terms of man's ultimate end is compatible with the defence of the existence of intrinsically evil acts and of absolute deontological moral principles. T he Christian moralists sought first to attach all moral worth to the voluntary act as its root; They regarded the soul of a just man as beautiful and worthy of honour because virtuous, but virtue itself as honourable only because it leads man to God.
It is therefore not the supreme good, the nec plus ultra that it was to the Greeks, the all-sufficient unconditioned condition of all morality. This might seem to contradict, at least in emphasis, Maritain's notion  of moral value. A careful reading of Maritain, however, shows underlying agreement with Gilson cp. Maritain pp.
It is strange that a basic Thomistic text such as Maritain's Introduction to the Basic Problems of Moral Philosophy has so little to say about the virtues, speaking instead about value judgements, right, obligation and the last end: strange, because St. Thomas himself not only had so much to say about the virtues but presented by far the greater part of his moral philosophy in terms of them. Thus he treats of man in the Summa Theologica as having free will and power over his actions.
He then Q6 treats of human acts, by which we attain or miss the last end. Action and operation is always individual or particular, he says; first, however, we must consider action generally in universali: this will take up the whole of Ia-IIae , before considering human acts in individual detail IIa-IIae, where all action is considered under the headings of various virtues and vices.
As far as the general treatment Ia-IIae is concerned, he first takes human acts themselves QQ , secondly their causes or principia Qend. Here the virtues come in, as we shall now explain.
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Of human acts themselves, some are proper to man, some are common to us and other animals. The first are more closely connected with the attainment of happiness since this is man's proper good. The second, common type of act are called collectively, as we have already noted, the passions of the soul. So under the first type, viz.
Then he comes to those acts common to us and animals, viz. As irrational, the passions do not have moral goodness or badness; this resides rather in the reason as governing or failing to govern them Q 24, art.
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This concludes the treatment of human acts in themselves. He now comes to the principles causes of such acts, which are either intrinsic to man QQ , viz. So even though the natural law might seem to be intrinsic to human nature, yet St. Thomas treats it as exterior divine instruction, in contrast to good habits virtues , which are intrinsic to us. Is this arbitrary? We don't think so. There is a long tradition which holds that in acknowledging this law in conscience treated in Ia we are responding to the voice of God  , i.
This is at the root of the controversy about whether a morality of obligation presupposes a divine law-giver . As is well known, Kant wished to deny this, making of reason as such an empowered legislator. Geach puts it, "for some time.. He refers to Philippa Foot's contribution to British moral philosophy as reviving the virtues, in reaction to R. Hare's approach. She concludes:. For this reason understanding what someone says about what is right and wrong is not like understanding an order. Behind this lies the whole debate about fact and value. Thomas so as to complete our account of the place of virtue in his scheme.
Virtues come under habits, habit being the second intrinsic principle of human acts after the powers of the soul. Thomas treats first of habits in general, saying that they are qualities dispositions ordering us to certain types of action. They are necessary, and their subject is the soul. This distinguishes them from instincts or vires sensitivae  There are habits of intellect the intellectual virtues, e. Thomas then asks a few questions about the causes of habits, e.
He asks about distinctions between habits, e. Thus we come to the virtues QQ , their essence or definition, viz. This applies to both acquired and infused virtues. He treats firstly of the intellectual virtues 57 , especially the role of prudence, then of the moral virtues, in relation to the passions and to one another, first the cardinal and then the theological virtues.
He then discusses the causes of virtue, such as nature, effort, infusion. The virtues are not by nature perfected in us. We have only natural seeds of virtue 63, 1. Next he discusses the idea of virtue as a mean between two evils, and the relative importance of the various virtues, their unity and whether they remain after this life.
As a theologian he comes then to the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and to the Beatitudes Sermon on the Mount ,  before discussing bad habits or vices and sin QQ Only after that does he come to God and the Devil the extrinsic causes of human acts and hence to law and grace, as we said above. In the long IIa-IIae which follows he treats of virtues and vices in particular, as well, finally, as of prophecy, of different types of life active, contemplative etc.
These last three divisions are intended to cover things pertaining to the habits and acts of the rational soul which are nonetheless only relevant to some men, or which types of life differ from man to man, or woman. Virtues and vices, by contrast, pertain to the conditions and states conditiones et status of all men. Thomas, not virtues and vices as such, but these as, together with the gifts, the beatitudes  , and now prophecy and types and states of life, falling under human acts actus humani. Thus he refers to the beatitudes as distinguished from the virtues and the gifts of the Spirit "as acts are distinguished from habits".
Whether as instrumental or as essential condition it is related to the good life as part to whole. Our present day political arrangements and laicist frame of mind can lead us all too easily to pass over this essential fact.
We saw how for St. Thomas the virtues, good habits, are intrinsic principles of good action; laws are extrinsic principles, as given to us by God or the government! One should perhaps not press this distinction too far however. It is true that St. Thomas denies that natural law is a habit  , as are the virtues one reason for his denial is that it is not always used, e. Yet he asserts that there is a habit of the principles of natural law, called synderesis compared to conscience as habit to act , which is naturally inborn.
The duty that these God-given laws create has therefore a kind of religious colouring. It is in fact analogous to religion. Thomas explains religion as itself a virtue which is part of the more general virtue of justice, since it consists in paying back to higher, invisible powers what is due to them praise, thanks etc. Like duty, it binds. And thus a person motivated by pure duty is at least similar to a religious person as paying an invisible debt debitum, from which the word "duty", i. We have our duties to one another in just this way; we speak of our duties to society, and we can indeed ask whether it makes sense even to speak of a duty, "pure" duty, which is not a duty to someone or something.
Thus in response to a statement that someone acted thus because it was his duty we can always ask "Duty to whom or what? We have spoken of Kant as the philosopher of duty  , but duty as such is a basic traditional notion which Kant in fact rather distorts, so that conscience itself can protest against Kant's view of things, according to which the individual will is dominant, pretending to make law instead of humbling itself before an existing duty "So act that you can will that your principle be a universal law. This contrasts with the view of St. Anselm, for example, who defines moral goodness, justitia  , as rectitudo voluntatis propter se servata  , i.
In that propter se we have the notion of pure duty.
But the difference from Kant lies in Anselm's notion of rectitudo. Such uprightness is essentially measured by that subsisting goodness which is God. Thus his predecessor in this Augustinian tradition, St. Gregory the Great, states that it would be wrong to think oneself morally upright if one departed from, ignored or did not know "the rule of the highest righteousness" regulam summae Rectitudinis.
This is just what Kant seems to do. The subject measures himself purely by his own reason, itself made into the plaything of the will. Thus Anselm links his concept of rectitudo with theoretical truth, which he defines as rectitudo mente sola perceptibilis. The practical sphere thus preserves its rational character, as it does not do in Kant, who separates it entirely from theoretical reason.
We have to act as if we knew we were immortal. All that supports Kant in this are his strong moral intuitions. It is even doubtful whether any deliverances of his practical reason which he virtually equates with the will , such as moral principles, can be properly called true or false.
The tradition in which Anselm stands presents morality as a matter of fulfilling duties ultimately to God out of love. Vivere secundum Deum, to live according to God, is, we noted above, how Augustine describes the virtuous life. We will see how in the tradition there is a definite link of the moral life with spiritual life in the thought of the Church Fathers, such as the Desert Father Cassian, who links purity of heart and the overcoming of the Seven Deadly Sins with the attainment of divine blessedness. It is in this Patristic tradition of biblical commentary that St. Thomas ultimately stands.
Against Kant we can say that unless there is a real law there is no real duty in the strict sense. So if in practice we find we cannot deny duty then we have to find a philosophy that makes it possible to admit the existence of a real law which we did not create for ourselves.
The Dominican, G. Manser, located the great error in Kant's ethics in his separation Trennung of morals from metaphysics:. We find in Kant the separation divorce of ethics and metaphysics In contrast to Kant the true Aristotelian extracts from the flux of sense-experience something permanent, the essential, without which there could be no flux, even.
He abstracts all ideas from experience. With that ethics is based on metaphysics and the existence of God becomes speculatively demonstrable, i. The doctrine of duty keeps its necessity beside that of freedom. This separation found expression in later ethical theory chiefly in the assertion of a deep-lying difference between statements of fact and statements of value, a linguistic difference in the sense of a logical difference.
For the tradition, on the other hand, reason is normally theoretical or speculative, i. Here it is most important to note St. Thomas's teaching that reason, not will, orders, also in the sense of commanding imperare est actus rationis, ST Ia-IIae, 17, 1 , even of commanding someone alicui. We order or command ourselves by reason, and thus also St. Thomas will teach that law, as an ordinance given to others, is also an ordinance given to others by or according to reason, not will  , even though reason gets its motive power in general from the will.
Will without reason, even of a prince, "would be more iniquity than law". Now value, properly understood, ranges over the whole of reality, in so far as everything has some value or disvalue. It is misused when it is given only a subjective application, as contrasted with the objectivity of pure fact. Talk of such "value-free" facts, "value-free" science, naturally devalues reality. We found Gabriel Marcel, above, making the same point. This is false to our language and thinking, however, since the factual-theoretical and the evaluative aspects are almost always intertwined in one and the same statement.
This, of course, is what one would expect if one has understood that the good is ultimately being i. In Ethics, Aquinas depends so heavily on Aristotle. Like the Greek philosopher, Aquinas believes that all actions are directed towards ends and that happiness is the final end. Aquinas also thinks that happiness is not equated with pleasure, material possessions, honor, or any sensual good, but consists in activities in accordance with virtue. A person needs a moral character cultivated through the habits of choice to realize real happiness.
But like Augustine, Aquinas declares that this ultimate happiness is not attainable in this life, forhappiness in the present life remains imperfect. True happiness,then, is to be found only in the souls of the blessed inheaven orin beatitude with God. Types of Laws. Central also in Aquinas ethics is his typology of laws. Obedience to the law is thus viewed also as participating in or being in conformity with the pattern or form. For Aquinas, there are four primary types of law—the eternal, natural, human, and divine. The eternal law refers to the rational plan of God by which all creation is ordered.
As God is the supreme ruler of everything, the rational pattern or form of the universe that exists in His mind is the law that directs everything in the universe to its appointed end. To this eternal law, everything in the universe is subject. The natural law is that aspect of the eternal law which is accessible to human reason. Because mankind is part of the eternal order, there is a portion of the eternal law that relates specifically to human conduct.
This is the moral law, the law or order to which people are subject by their natureordering them to do good and avoid evil. The human law refers to the positive laws. For natural law to be adhered to, more exact and forceful provisions of human law are helpful. Moral virtues are also reinforced by and cultivated through these human laws. Human laws that are against natural law are not real laws, and people are not obliged to obey those unjust laws.
The divine law serves to complement the other types of law. Though concerned also with external aspects of conduct, the divine law is more focused on how man can be inwardly holy and eventually attain salvation. The Natural Law and Ethics. Obviously, the type of law that is primarily significant in Ethics is the natural law. Part of this natural law is our inherentnatural tendency to pursue the behavior and goals appropriate to us.
According to Aquinas, this natural law is knowable by natural reason. For instance, our practical reason naturally comprehends that good is to be promoted and evil is to be avoided. Aquinas enumerates three sets of these inclinations: to survive, to reproduce and educate offspring, and to know the truth about God and to live in society. These prescriptions to have families, love God and our neighbors, and pursue knowledge are but rationally obvious precepts and simply stand to reason. Grasping the prescriptions of the natural law and using our practical reason are necessary in determining which means will direct us to our ultimate end.
Accordingly, this concept helps us in judging some deeds as moral or otherwise. The principle is simple: the closer an action approaches our end, the more moral it is; the further it departs, the more immoral. Concerning sexuality, Thomas for instance argues that its ends involve procreation within the bond of marriage and unifying the married couple.
From this principle, it is not hard to judge fornication and adultery as immoral since both acts never serve to fulfill the abovementioned purposes. Accessed August 22, Nicomachean Ethics Second Edition. Translated by Terence Irwin. He states that we share in living like plants who are concerned with nutrition and growth, and in perception like the animals. But, we also have a special function as rational animals.
One [part] of it has reason as obeying reason; the other has it as itself having reason and thinking. Pleasure is what animals seek and human beings have reason that allows humans not to do away with physical urges, but rather to use them in ways that are appropriate with reason according to our nature as rational beings. Aristotle discusses in Book 1, Chapter 10, the pursuit of happiness as the exercise of virtue. He does not say that no misfortune or bad things will happen to someone who is happy during their lifetime. He believes the virtues will shine through in the way the persons whole life is looked at.
ARISTOTLE, HUMAN FLOURISHING, AND THE LIMITED STATE
Therefore, 4 Aristotle, Ethics, Introduction xv-xvi. For no human achievement has the stability of activities in accord with virtue, since these seem to be more enduring even than our knowledge of the sciences. Indeed, the most honorable among the virtues themselves are more enduring than the other virtues, because blessed people devote their lives to them more fully and more continually than to anything else—for this continual activity would seem to be the reason we do not forget them.
Yet evidently happiness needs the external goods as well…. For the man who is very ugly in appearance or ill- born or solitary and childless is not very likely to be happy, and perhaps a man would be still less likely if he had thoroughly bad children or friends or had lost good children or friends by death….
Why then should we not say that he is happy who is active in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life? Man acts with purpose or an end-goal in mind. Aquinas believes this purpose or end is the good.
We may not be aware of that fact in each and every act we do. When we act immorally or against the law we are still seeking what we believe to be the 8 D. We mistake our actions seeking a real good but in reality only are seeking an apparent good. Through his typical style of raising questions, objections, and analysis he points out that men may be convinced that riches and material possessions lead to happiness, when they in fact do not lead to happiness.