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Archive for the ‘Aquinas morality’ Category

How We Should Serve God on the Lord’s Day: A Meditation For Quinquagesima Sunday From St Thomas Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 5, 2011

The following is excerpted from St Thomas Aquinas’ lectures ON THE DECALOGUE.

Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath Day Ex 20:8.

Man is bound to keep feast days holy. Now a thing is said to be holy in one of two ways, either because the thing is itself unspotted or because it is consecrated to God. We must say something then of the kind of works from which we should abstain on such days and also of the kind with which we should occupy ourselves.

1. Sacrifices. In Sacred Scripture (Num 28:3) it is related how God commanded that every day, in the morning and again in the evening, a
lamb should be offered up, but that on the sabbath this offering should be doubled. This teaches us that we too ought on the sabbath to offer a
sacrifice, a sacrifice taken from all that we possess.

A.  We ought to make an offering of our soul, lamenting our sins and giving thanks for the benefits we have received. Let my prayer, Lord, be directed as incense in thy sight (Ps 141:2). Feast days are instituted to give us spiritual joy, and the means to this is prayer. Whence on such days we should multiply our prayers.

B.  We should offer our body. I beseech you therefore brethren, says St. Paul, by the mercy of God, that you offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God (Rom 12:1). And we should give praise to God. The psalm says, The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me (Ps 50:23). Wherefore on feast days hymns should be numerous.

C.  We should offer our goods, and this by giving alms by giving on feast days a double amount, for these are times of universal rejoicing.

2.  Study of the word of God. This indeed was the practice of the Jews, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (13:27). The voices of the prophets, which are read every sabbath. Christians therefore, whose spiritual state should be more perfect than that of the Jews, ought on such days to meet together for sermons and for the Church’s office. And likewise for profitable conversation. Here are two things truly profitable for the soul of the sinner, sure means
to his amendment. For the word of God instructs the ignorant and stirs up those that are lukewarm.

3. Direct occupation with the things of God. This do those who are perfect. In the psalms (e.g., 34:9) we read, Taste and see that the Lord is
sweet, and this because He gives rest to the soul. For just as the body worn out with toil craves for rest, so too does the soul. Now the soul’s place is God. Be thou unto me a God, a protector and a place of refuge, is written in the Psalms (Ps 31:3). And St. Paul, too, says, There remaineth therefore a day of restfor the people of God; for he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God aid from his (Heb 4:9, 10). Again in
the book of Wisdom ((Wis 8:16), When I go into my house, that is, my conscience, I shall repose with her, that is, with Wisdom.

But before the soul can attain to this peace, it must already have found peace in three other ways.

It must have peace from the uneasiness of sin.  The heart of the wicked man is like a raging sea, which cannot rest (Isa 57:20).

It must have peace from the attractions of bodily desires. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh (Gal 5:17).

It must have peace from the cares of everyday life. Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things (Luke 10:41).

But after these are attained the soul shall truly rest in God. If thou call the sabbath delightful… then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord (Isa 58:14).
It is for this that the saints have left all things, for this is that treasure which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he
hath, and buyeth (Matt 13:44). For this is the peace of eternal life and of the joy that shall last for ever, This is my rest for ever and ever: here
I will  dwell, for I have chosen it (Ps 132:14).

Posted in Aquinas morality, Bible, Biblical miscellany, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Meditations, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Aquinas’ Use of 1 Peter 2:11-19 In The Summa Theologica

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 22, 2010

The Epistle reading for this Sunday’s Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Rite is taken from 1 Peter 2:11-19.  Below you will find the various questions and articles of the ST in which it is used.  More resources for this Sunday’s readings (mostly commentaries) can be found here.

Article 4: Whether a man who is condemned to death may lawfully defend himself if he can?

Objection 1: It would seem that a man who is condemned to death may lawfully defend himself if he can. For it is always lawful to do that to which nature inclines us, as being of natural right, so to speak. Now, to resist corruption is an inclination of nature not only in men and animals but also in things devoid of sense. Therefore if he can do so, the accused, after condemnation, may lawfully resist being put to death.

Objection 2: Further, just as a man, by resistance, escapes the death to which he has been condemned, so does he by flight. Now it is lawful seemingly to escape death by flight, according to Ecclesiasticus 9:18, “Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill [and not to quicken]” [The words in the brackets are not in the Vulgate]. Therefore it is also lawful for the accused to resist.

Objection 3: Further, it is written (Proverbs 24:11): “Deliver them that are led to death: and those that are drawn to death forbear not to deliver.” Now a man is under greater obligation to himself than to another. Therefore it is lawful for a condemned man to defend himself from being put to death.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Romans 13:2): “He that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.” Now a condemned man, by defending himself, resists the power in the point of its being ordained by God “for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of the good” [1 Peter 2:14]. Therefore he sins in defending himself.

I answer that A man may be condemned to death in two ways. First justly, and then it is not lawful for the condemned to defend himself, because it is lawful for the judge to combat his resistance by force, so that on his part the fight is unjust, and consequently without any doubt he sins.
Secondly a man is condemned unjustly: and such a sentence is like the violence of robbers, according to Ezechiel 22:21, “Her princes in the midst of her are like wolves ravening the prey to shed blood.” Wherefore even as it is lawful to resist robbers, so is it lawful, in a like case, to resist wicked princes; except perhaps in order to avoid scandal, whence some grave disturbance might be feared to arise.

Reply to Objection 1: Reason was given to man that he might ensue those things to which his nature inclines, not in all cases, but in accordance with the order of reason. Hence not all self-defense is lawful, but only such as is accomplished with due moderation.

Reply to Objection 2: When a man is condemned to death, he has not to kill himself, but to suffer death: wherefore he is not bound to do anything from which death would result, such as to stay in the place whence he would be led to execution. But he may not resist those who lead him to death, in order that he may not suffer what is just for him to suffer. Even so, if a man were condemned to die of hunger, he does not sin if he partakes of food brought to him secretly, because to refrain from taking it would be to kill himself.

Reply to Objection 3: This saying of the wise man does not direct that one should deliver a man from death in opposition to the order of justice: wherefore neither should a man deliver himself from death by resisting against justice.

Article 2: Whether honor is properly due to those who are above us?

Objection 1: It seems that honor is not properly due to those who are above us. For an angel is above any human wayfarer, according to Matthew 11:11, “He that is lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.” Yet an angel forbade John when the latter wished to honor him (Apocalypse 22:10). Therefore honor is not due to those who are above us.

Objection 2: Further, honor is due to a person in acknowledgment of his virtue, as stated above (A[1]; Q[63], A[3]). But sometimes those who are above us are not virtuous. Therefore honor is not due to them, as neither is it due to the demons, who nevertheless are above us in the order of nature.

Objection 3: Further, the Apostle says (Romans 12:10): “With honor preventing one another,” and we read (1 Peter 2:17): “Honor all men.” But this would not be so if honor were due to those alone who are above us. Therefore honor is not due properly to those who are above us.

Objection 4: Further, it is written (Tobias 1:16) that Tobias “had ten talents of silver of that which he had been honored by the king”: and we read (Esther 6:11) that Assuerus honored Mardochaeus, and ordered it to be proclaimed in his presence: “This honor is he worthy of whom the king hath a mind to honor.” Therefore honor is paid to those also who are beneath us, and it seems, in consequence, that honor is not due properly to those who are above us.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethics i, 12) that “honor is due to the best.”

I answer that As stated above (A[1]), honor is nothing but an acknowledgment of a person’s excelling goodness. Now a person’s excellence may be considered, not only in relation to those who honor him, in the point of his being more excellent than they, but also in itself, or in relation to other persons, and in this way honor is always due to a person, on account of some excellence or superiority.
For the person honored has no need to be more excellent than those who honor him; it may suffice for him to be more excellent than some others, or again he may be more excellent than those who honor him in some respect and not simply.

Reply to Objection 1: The angel forbade John to pay him, not any kind of honor, but the honor of adoration and latria, which is due to God. Or again, he forbade him to pay the honor of dulia, in order to indicate the dignity of John himself, for which Christ equaled him to the angels “according to the hope of glory of the children of God”: wherefore he refused to be honored by him as though he were superior to him.

Reply to Objection 2: A wicked superior is honored for the excellence, not of his virtue but of his dignity, as being God’s minister, and because the honor paid to him is paid to the whole community over which he presides. As for the demons, they are wicked beyond recall, and should be looked upon as enemies, rather than treated with honor.

Reply to Objection 3: In every man is to be found something that makes it possible to deem him better than ourselves, according to Philippians 2:3, “In humility, let each esteem others better than themselves,” and thus, too, we should all be on the alert to do honor to one another.

Reply to Objection 4: Private individuals are sometimes honored by kings, not that they are above them in the order of dignity but on account of some excellence of their virtue: and in this way Tobias and Mardochaeus were honored by kings.

Article 6: Whether Christians are bound to obey the secular powers?

Objection 1: It seems that Christians are not bound to obey the secular power. For a gloss on Matthew 17:25, “Then the children are free,” says: “If in every kingdom the children of the king who holds sway over that kingdom are free, then the children of that King, under Whose sway are all kingdoms, should be free in every kingdom.” Now Christians, by their faith in Christ, are made children of God, according to John 1:12: “He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name.” Therefore they are not bound to obey the secular power.

Objection 2: Further, it is written (Romans 7:4): “You … are become dead to the law by the body of Christ,” and the law mentioned here is the divine law of the Old Testament. Now human law whereby men are subject to the secular power is of less account than the divine law of the Old Testament. Much more, therefore, since they have become members of Christ’s body, are men freed from the law of subjection, whereby they were under the power of secular princes.

Objection 3: Further, men are not bound to obey robbers, who oppress them with violence. Now, Augustine says (De Civitate Dei (“The City of God”) iv): “Without justice, what else is a kingdom but a huge robbery?” Since therefore the authority of secular princes is frequently exercised with injustice, or owes its origin to some unjust usurpation, it seems that Christians ought not to obey secular princes.

On the contrary, It is written (Titus 3:1): “Admonish them to be subject to princes and powers,” and (1 Peter 2:13,14): “Be ye subject … to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him.”

I answer that Faith in Christ is the origin and cause of justice, according to Romans 3:22, “The justice of God by faith of Jesus Christ:” wherefore faith in Christ does not void the order of justice, but strengthens it.” Now the order of justice requires that subjects obey their superiors, else the stability of human affairs would cease. Hence faith in Christ does not excuse the faithful from the obligation of obeying secular princes.

Reply to Objection 1: As stated above (A[5]), subjection whereby one man is bound to another regards the body; not the soul, which retains its liberty. Now, in this state of life we are freed by the grace of Christ from defects of the soul, but not from defects of the body, as the Apostle declares by saying of himself (Romans 7:23) that in his mind he served the law of God, but in his flesh the law of sin. Wherefore those that are made children of God by grace are free from the spiritual bondage of sin, but not from the bodily bondage, whereby they are held bound to earthly masters, as a gloss observes on 1 Timothy 6:1, “Whosoever are servants under the yoke,” etc.

Reply to Objection 2: The Old Law was a figure of the New Testament, and therefore it had to cease on the advent of truth. And the comparison with human law does not stand because thereby one man is subject to another. Yet man is bound by divine law to obey his fellow-man.

Reply to Objection 3: Man is bound to obey secular princes in so far as this is required by order of justice. Wherefore if the prince’s authority is not just but usurped, or if he commands what is unjust, his subjects are not bound to obey him, except perhaps accidentally, in order to avoid scandal or danger.

Article 3: Whether one ought, by humility, to subject oneself to all men?

Objection 1: It would seem that one ought not, by humility, to subject oneself to all men. For, as stated above (A[2], ad 3), humility consists chiefly in man’s subjection to God. Now one ought not to offer to a man that which is due to God, as is the case with all acts of religious worship. Therefore, by humility, one ought not to subject oneself to man.

Objection 2: Further, Augustine says (De Natura et Gratia, Contra Pelagium (“On Nature and Grace, Against the Pelagians”) xxxiv): “Humility should take the part of truth, not of falsehood.” Now some men are of the highest rank, who cannot, without falsehood, subject themselves to their inferiors. Therefore one ought not, by humility, to subject oneself to all men.

Objection 3: Further no one ought to do that which conduces to the detriment of another’s spiritual welfare. But if a man subject himself to another by humility, this is detrimental to the person to whom he subjects himself; for the latter might wax proud, or despise the other. Hence Augustine says in his Rule (Ep. ccxi): “Lest through excessive humility the superior lose his authority.” Therefore a man ought not, by humility, to subject himself to all.

On the contrary, It is written (Philippians 2:3): “In humility, let each esteem others better than themselves.”

I answer that We may consider two things in man, namely that which is God’s, and that which is man’s. Whatever pertains to defect is man’s: but whatever pertains to man’s welfare and perfection is God’s, according to the saying of Osee 13:9, “Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only in Me.” Now humility, as stated above (A[1], ad 5; A[2], ad 3), properly regards the reverence whereby man is subject to God. Wherefore every man, in respect of that which is his own, ought to subject himself to every neighbor, in respect of that which the latter has of God’s: but humility does not require a man to subject what he has of God’s to that which may seem to be God’s in another. For those who have a share of God’s gifts know that they have them, according to 1 Corinthians 2:12: “That we may know the things that are given us from God.” Wherefore without prejudice to humility they may set the gifts they have received from God above those that others appear to have received from Him; thus the Apostle says (Ephesians 3:5): “(The mystery of Christ) was not known to the sons of men as it is now revealed to His holy apostles.” In like manner. humility does not require a man to subject that which he has of his own to that which his neighbor has of man’s: otherwise each one would have to esteem himself a greater sinner than anyone else: whereas the Apostle says without prejudice to humility (Galatians 2:15): “We by nature are Jews, and not of the Gentiles, sinners.” Nevertheless a man may esteem his neighbor to have some good which he lacks himself, or himself to have some evil which another has not: by reason of which, he may subject himself to him with humility.

Reply to Objection 1: We must not only revere God in Himself, but also that which is His in each one, although not with the same measure of reverence as we revere God. Wherefore we should subject ourselves with humility to all our neighbors for God’s sake, according to 1 Peter 2:13, “Be ye subject … to every human creature for God’s sake”; but to God alone do we owe the worship of latria.

Reply to Objection 2: If we set what our neighbor has of God’s above that which we have of our own, we cannot incur falsehood. Wherefore a gloss [St. Augustine, QQ. lxxxiii, qu. 71] on Philippians 2:3, “Esteem others better than themselves,” says: “We must not esteem by pretending to esteem; but we should in truth think it possible for another person to have something that is hidden to us and whereby he is better than we are, although our own good whereby we are apparently better than he, be not hidden.”

Reply to Objection 3: Humility, like other virtues, resides chiefly inwardly in the soul. Consequently a man, by an inward act of the soul, may subject himself to another, without giving the other man an occasion of detriment to his spiritual welfare. This is what Augustine means in his Rule (Ep. ccxi): “With fear, the superior should prostrate himself at your feet in the sight of God.” On the other hand, due moderation must be observed in the outward acts of humility even as of other virtues, lest they conduce to the detriment of others. If, however, a man does as he ought, and others take therefrom an occasion of sin, this is not imputed to the man who acts with humility; since he does not give scandal, although others take it.
Article 4: Whether humility is a part of modesty or temperance?

Objection 1: It would seem that humility is not a part of modesty or temperance. For humility regards chiefly the reverence whereby one is subject to God, as stated above (A[3]). Now it belongs to a theological virtue to have God for its object. Therefore humility should be reckoned a theological virtue rather than a part of temperance or modesty.

Objection 2: Further, temperance is in the concupiscible, whereas humility would seem to be in the irascible, just as pride which is opposed to it, and whose object is something difficult. Therefore apparently humility is not a part of temperance or modesty.

Objection 3: Further, humility and magnanimity are about the same object, as stated above (A[1], ad 3). But magnanimity is reckoned a part, not of temperance but of fortitude, as stated above (Q[129], A[5]). Therefore it would seem that humility is not a part of temperance or modesty.

On the contrary, Origen says (Hom. viii super Luc.): “If thou wilt hear the name of this virtue, and what it was called by the philosophers, know that humility which God regards is the same as what they called metriotes, i.e. measure or moderation.” Now this evidently pertains to modesty or temperance. Therefore humility is a part of modesty or temperance.

I answer that As stated above (Q[137], A[2], ad 1; Q[157], A[3], ad 2), in assigning parts to a virtue we consider chiefly the likeness that results from the mode of the virtue. Now the mode of temperance, whence it chiefly derives its praise, is the restraint or suppression of the impetuosity of a passion. Hence whatever virtues restrain or suppress, and the actions which moderate the impetuosity of the emotions, are reckoned parts of temperance. Now just as meekness suppresses the movement of anger, so does humility suppress the movement of hope, which is the movement of a spirit aiming at great things. Wherefore, like meekness, humility is accounted a part of temperance. For this reason the Philosopher (Ethics iv, 3) says that a man who aims at small things in proportion to his mode is not magnanimous but “temperate,” and such a man we may call humble. Moreover, for the reason given above (Q[160], A[2]), among the various parts of temperance, the one under which humility is comprised is modesty as understood by Tully (De Invent. Rhetoric ii, 54), inasmuch as humility is nothing else than a moderation of spirit: wherefore it is written (1 Peter 3:4): “In the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit.”

Reply to Objection 1: The theological virtues, whose object is our last end, which is the first principle in matters of appetite, are the causes of all the other virtues. Hence the fact that humility is caused by reverence for God does not prevent it from being a part of modesty or temperance.

Reply to Objection 2: Parts are assigned to a principal virtue by reason of a sameness, not of subject or matter, but of formal mode, as stated above (Q[137], A[2], ad 1; Q[157], A[3], ad 2). Consequently, although humility is in the irascible as its subject, it is assigned as a part of modesty or temperance by reason of its mode.

Reply to Objection 3: Although humility and magnanimity agree as to matter, they differ as to mode, by reason of which magnanimity is reckoned a part of fortitude, and humility a part of temperance.

Article 4: Whether human law binds a man in conscience?

Objection 1: It would seem that human law does not bind man in conscience. For an inferior power has no jurisdiction in a court of higher power. But the power of man, which frames human law, is beneath the Divine power. Therefore human law cannot impose its precept in a Divine court, such as is the court of conscience.

Objection 2: Further, the judgment of conscience depends chiefly on the commandments of God. But sometimes God’s commandments are made void by human laws, according to Matthew 15:6: “You have made void the commandment of God for your tradition.” Therefore human law does not bind a man in conscience.

Objection 3: Further, human laws often bring loss of character and injury on man, according to Isaiah 10:1 et seqq.: “Woe to them that make wicked laws, and when they write, write injustice; to oppress the poor in judgment, and do violence to the cause of the humble of My people.” But it is lawful for anyone to avoid oppression and violence. Therefore human laws do not bind man in conscience.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Peter 2:19): “This is thankworthy, if the conscience … a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully.”

I answer that Laws framed by man are either just or unjust. If they be just, they have the power of binding in conscience, from the eternal law whence they are derived, according to Proverbs 8:15: “By Me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things.” Now laws are said to be just, both from the end, when, to wit, they are ordained to the common good — and from their author, that is to say, when the law that is made does not exceed the power of the lawgiver — and from their form, when, to wit, burdens are laid on the subjects, according to an equality of proportion and with a view to the common good. For, since one man is a part of the community, each man in all that he is and has, belongs to the community; just as a part, in all that it is, belongs to the whole; wherefore nature inflicts a loss on the part, in order to save the whole: so that on this account, such laws as these, which impose proportionate burdens, are just and binding in conscience, and are legal laws.
On the other hand laws may be unjust in two ways: first, by being contrary to human good, through being opposed to the things mentioned above — either in respect of the end, as when an authority imposes on his subjects burdensome laws, conducive, not to the common good, but rather to his own cupidity or vainglory — or in respect of the author, as when a man makes a law that goes beyond the power committed to him — or in respect of the form, as when burdens are imposed unequally on the community, although with a view to the common good. The like are acts of violence rather than laws; because, as Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5), “a law that is not just, seems to be no law at all.” Wherefore such laws do not bind in conscience, except perhaps in order to avoid scandal or disturbance, for which cause a man should even yield his right, according to Matthew 5:40,41: “If a man … take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him; and whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two.”
Secondly, laws may be unjust through being opposed to the Divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry, or to anything else contrary to the Divine law: and laws of this kind must nowise be observed, because, as stated in Acts 5:29, “we ought to obey God rather than man.”

Reply to Objection 1: As the Apostle says (Romans 13:1,2), all human power is from God … “therefore he that resisteth the power,” in matters that are within its scope, “resisteth the ordinance of God”; so that he becomes guilty according to his conscience.

Reply to Objection 2: This argument is true of laws that are contrary to the commandments of God, which is beyond the scope of (human) power. Wherefore in such matters human law should not be obeyed.

Reply to Objection 3: This argument is true of a law that inflicts unjust hurt on its subjects. The power that man holds from God does not extend to this: wherefore neither in such matters is man bound to obey the law, provided he avoid giving scandal or inflicting a more grievous hurt.

Posted in Aquinas morality, Bible, Catholic, Morality, Quotes, ST THOMAS AND THE SUMMA, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

1,007 And Counting

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 16, 2009

My simple list of links to ONLINE WORKS BY AND ABOUT AQUINAS has topped 1,ooo views on Scribd.  My follow up to this, MORE ONLINE WORKS ABOUT AQUINAS has now been viewed 649 times.  My list of links to the PAPAL COMMENTARY ON THE MORNING AND EVENING PSALMS has been viewed 987 times.  My personal COMMENTARY ON THE PROPHET AMOS has been viewed 883.

Posted in Aquinas morality, BENEDICT XVI CATECHESIS, Bible, Logic, NOTES ON AMOS, PAPAL COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, Philosophy, ST THOMAS AND THE SUMMA, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More Links To Online Works About Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 18, 2009

My previous document WORKS BY AND ABOUT ST THOMAS AQUINAS has done fairly well on Scribd.  Below is another document on Aquinas I just uploaded to that site.

Posted in Aquinas morality, Aristotle, Audio/Video Lectures, Logic, Morality, Philosophy, ST THOMAS AND THE SUMMA, St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Videos: Ralph McIrnerry On Aquinas, Metaphysics, and Morality

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 16, 2009

These are all excerpts from a course offered online by the International Catholic University.  They offer self-study courses via DVD and audio CD, but these will cost you money.  The introduction to the philosophy of Aquinas consists of six lecture of about one hour each.  Texts of these lectures (at least part of the texts) is available free on the site.  The first video is the opening part of McIrnerry’s course INTRODUCTION TO AQUINAS.  You can view texts of the lectures and lessons HERE.  The second video is an excerpt from his course on metaphysics, you can view his rough notes on the lectures HERE.   The lessons can be found HERE.  The remaining five videos are from his course INTRODUCTION TO MORAL PHILOSOPHY.  The fact that the ICU has posted the entire first lecture on moral philosophy online probably gives an indication of their assessment for the need of a sound morality in our world.  McIrnerry’s rough notes on the lectures can be found HERE (click on links).  The lessons can be found HERE (scroll to bottom of page).

Posted in Aquinas morality, Audio/Video Lectures, Morality, Philosophy, ST THOMAS AND THE SUMMA, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ethics and Natural Law, Part 1, Chapter 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2008

What follows is an excerpt from MORAL PHILOSOPHY, by Joseph Rickaby.  Links and text in red represent my additions.  The sole purpose of the first chapter is to summarize certain introductory points.

Of The Object-Matter And Partition Of Moral Philosophy.

1. Moral Philosophy is the science that considers human acts inasmuch as they befit man’s rational nature and make towards man’s last end. Philosophy means the love (philia) of wisdom (sophia). Wisdom orders things to an end: “Accordingly it is proper to moral philosophy, to which our attention is at present directed, to consider human operations insofar as they are ordered one to another and to an end” (Aristotle) The last end of man is happiness: “Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence” (Aquinas). For more on wisdom and the science of Philosophy in general read chapter 1 of the Summa Contra Gentiles. For more on happiness (Beatific Vision) see SCG, Bk. 3, Ch. 37.

2. Those acts alone are properly called human, which a man is master of to do or not to do. A human act, then, is an act voluntary and free. A man is what his human acts make him. Concerning this, read this excerpt from Walter Farrell’s Companion To The Summa, Bk. 2, Ch. 2. Also, read the Summa Theologica Ia-IIae, Q. 1, Art. 1.

3. A voluntary act is an act that proceeds from the will with a knowledge of the end to which the act tends. See ST. Ia-IIae, Q. 6, Art. 1.

4. A free act is an act which proceeds from the will that under the same antecedent conditions it might not have proceeded. See ST. Ia-IIae, Q. 13, Art. 6.

5. Human acts, as defined above, are the subject-matter of moral philosophy. The special light in which it considers them is their agreement with, or opposition to, man’s rational nature. That agreement or opposition is their moral good or evil, and is called morality. See ST. Ia-IIae, Q. 18, Arts. 1-11.

6. Moral Philosophy is divided into Ethics and Natural Law. The principal business of Ethics is to determine what moral obligation is, or to fix what logicians call the comprehension of the idea I ought. It belongs to Natural Law to consider what things are morally obligatory, or to determine the extension of the idea I ought.

7. Ethics stand to Natural Law as Pure Mathematics to Mixed.

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Aquinas’ Ethics (On Beatitude; i.e., Happiness)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 5, 2008

What follows is an excerpt from a public domain book entitled ELEMENTS OF MORAL THEOLOGY BASED ON THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA OF ST THOMAS AQUINAS, by J.J. Elmendorf.  Essentially, it is the moral teaching of the Summa in simplified form and language.  The  current passage deals with  the subject of Beatitude (happiness) as treated in the Prima  Secundae  (first part of the second part) of the Summa Theologica, questions 1-5.
1. What is the ultimate end of man?  See the Summa, I-II, Q. 1
Man, as a free and rational agent, directs his actions for the attainment of some end.  Those actions are properly human which are characteristic of man as man. Now he differs from irrational creatures in having lordship of his acts. Such acts are properly human. but man is lord of his acts through reason and free will, whereby he chooses to do what he does. Other acts of his may be called actions of a man, but they are not properly human,, since they do not proceed from that deliberate will which is characteristic of a man as man. And since every power is directed to its appropriate object, and the object of the will is some end, some good, it is evident that human acts are for the attainment of some end. This end may be last in execution, but first it is first in the agent’s intention. It is therefore called the final cause.

The very action itself may be the ultimate end, but still it is voluntary. The human power called the Will may produce something objective to itself, as walking or talking for some remoter end; or it may will the action for its own sake. Then this action is the end which the will aims at.

To act for an end is peculiar to a rational creature directing itself towards that end.  Every agent in the universe in acting is directed towards some end. Otherwise, it would no more produce any one result than any other. In order that it shall produce a determined result it must have a direction (from without or from within) towards that result. But in a rational being, this is done this is done by that rational seeking of an end which is called the Will. An action or motion may tend to its end from either of two causes: either because the agent moves itself towards that end, as our consciousness informs us that man does; or because it is directed by another, as an arrow moves towards the mark. Rational biengs move themselves towards the end, because, through free choice, they have lordship over their own actions.

This then is peculiar to a rational being, for if the brute has not this power, he may apprehend the immediate end of his actions, but he does not, properly speaking, move himself towards it, nor know the ultimate end. Some other and a rational being is needed to direct the brute towards that ultimate end. He may, and doubtless does, seek some particular good for himself; ut the notion of the good in general as the object of his action he has no power to comprehend.

Human acts are moral acts.  As such they differ in kind according to the ultimate end aimed at. For this is prior in intention. Each act, indeed, is directed to some immediate end which determines the species of act. But the same specific act, the killing of a man, for example, may be directed to various remoter ends. And these remoter ends will determine the moral character of the acts as good or bad.

There is an ultimate end in human actions.  The end directly sought may have a remoter end for which it is the means; but it is impossible that there should be regress of this kind ad infinitum. In such a claim if you take away the first link, you annul all that follows. In ends there is a two-fold order: that of intention, and that of execution; and in both there must be a first. That which is first in intention is the mover of the desire for all that follows from it. Take away this, and that desire is moved by nothing. The first execution is that from which operations begins. Take that away, and no one begins to do anything. Bu the ultimate end is that which is first in intention; other things are willed only as means to attaining this. And the first in execution is the first of those means to attaining the end desired. On neither side is it possible to proceed ad infinitum. For if there were no ultimate end nothing would be sought, no action determined to an end, no aim would rest in anything. And, on the other hand, if there were no first in the means used, no one would begin to do anything, no plan would be determined in any direction.

All this is true, however, of a connected order only. Where there is none, there may be an indefinite number of aims or means.

One man can make, at one time, only one thing his ultimate end, because each one seeks that as his ultimate end which is for him the perfect good that rounds up and completes his nature.  This is for him his good.  It fills up his desire and leaves nothing more to be sought for.  Therefore there cannot be two such objects of desire.  Men may seek at once pleasure, rest, goods of nature, virtue; but all these as going to make up that one perfect good which is the ultimate end.

All things which man seeks for, he seeks on account of the ultimate end, because whatever man seeks for he seeks as good, if not as the perfect good which is his ultimate end, yet as tending towards that.  It is not necessary that that ultimate good should be consciously in the mind at the time, but its power remains in every desire.  So it is not necessary that he who is going anywhere by a road, should at every step think of the end of his journey.

Do all men seek the same ultimate end?  The question admits of two answers.  If we have in mind the (subjective) idea of that end, since all seek their perfection, all agree in seeking one end.  but if we speak (objectively) of that in which the notion of such perfection is found, by no means do all agree, since some make riches the perfect good, others, pleasure, and so on.  So tastes differ, though all like the agreeable.  Even in sinning, man seeks a seeming good.  Different courses of life result from men’s finding their ultimate good in different objects.

2.  What is beatitude and in what does it consist?  See Summa I-II Q. 2 and I-II Q 3

Is it any created thing?  Our term, “the end,” is equivocal, since it may mean either the thing which we desire to obtain, or the getting, the possession, use, or enjoyment of that thing.

Thus the avarice may desire money simply for itself; the ambitious, the pleasure seeker, for what it gives.  In the first sense, the ultimate end of every man is uncreated good, even God, because He only, by His infinite goodness, can perfectly satisfy our will.  But in the other sense, the ultimate end of man is something created, and existing in himself, sc., the obtaining and the fruition of that ultimate end.  Men obtain beatitude by participation in the perfect beatitude of God.

Beatitude is perfect activity.  For it is the final perfection of man.  But nothing is perfect in which any power remains in purely potential existence.  Beatitude, indeed, is said to be eternal life (Rom 6:22); but life, in this sense of the word, is not mere existence; it is the fulfillment of the operations of life (John 17:3).  Such operations of the inward life are thinking , feeling, willing.  Such can constitute beatitude.

Perfect beatitude is not found in this life; for that activity of the soul in which man may find some imperfect union with his heavenly Father cannot e uninterrupted union.  There may be some participation of beatitude, but its fullness can only be found where there is one, continuous, uninterrupted union with God.

This  beatitude has not its seat in the sensitive nature, sc., in the feelings and sensations y which we now attain to the intellectual truth.  Its seat is in spiritual reason and holy will.  Yet true it is that in the resurrection this perfect beatitude may overflow into the lower parts of the perfected human nature.  It is the vision of God, of which St John spoke (1 Jn 3:2).  This leaves nothing more to be desired and sought for.  And it is reason’s highest flight and final rest to know the first cause, the source of all that is.

What are the conditions of this beatitude?
(1) Joy is cause by the rest of desire in the good obtained; therefore beatitude cannot exist without the concomitant spiritual pleasure.
(2)  Three things must concur in perfect beatitude, viz., perfect vision, which is perfect knowledge of the end of reason; comprehension of the object of vision, which implies its presence in the soul; fruition, which is perfect delight in the object of love known and possessed.
(3)  Rectitude of will is required both antecedently and concomitantly.  The first, because attaining to the end implies a due order of the will with reference to that end, and the means of reaching it; the second, because the will of one who sees God necessarily loves whatever he loves in its relations to God (Heb 12:14).

3.  What is required for obtaining beatitude and how to acquire it.  See Summa I-II Q 4 and I-II Q 5

It is the obtaining of perfect good.  Man is capable of this perfect good, for his spiritual reason can comprehend it, and his will can seek it; not perfectly under present conditions indeed, ut when he has attained to the perfection of the supernatural life for which he was created.

Since beatitude is perfect and sufficient good it must exclude all evil, and satisfy all desire.  In this life all evil cannot be excluded; ignorance, inordinate affections, bodily pains all stand in the way.  Neither can all desire be satisfied.  For man naturally desires permanence of the good which he possess; but the goods of this life are transitory; and so is life itself, while man naturally shuns death.  Therefore perfect beatitude cannot be found in this life.

If we consider, again, that in which beatitude peculiarly consists, sc., the vision of God, of which man is in this life incapable, the conclusion will be the same.  In this life man can only rejoice in hope of it or in some imperfect participation of it.

This beatitude can never be lost.  For, (1) it satisfies all desire, and excludes all evil.  but man naturally desires to keep the good which he has, and he cannot be perfectly happy if he thinks that he may lose it.  Or if, again, he is deluded by false opinion that he will never lose it, that false opinion is itself an evil, while perfect beatitude excludes every evil.

And (2) this vision of God so satisfies the soul, is so perfectly free from every drawback to felicity, that the blessed cannot wish to lose it; God will not withdraw it, which would be penalty for fault; neither has anything the power to withdraw the soul from this vision.  Man is made to participate in the eternity of God, finding his own destiny in this everlasting beatitude (Matt 25:46).

Man, by his natural powers, cannot acquire beatitude.  For its perfection is found in the vision of God; but this is above the nature of every creature.  its natural cognition is after the manner of its being.  But the Divine essence infinitely exceeds every created substance; therefore no creature can y its natural powers obtain this ultimate beatitude.  It is indeed the end of man; ut in this, as in other respects, man, having free will, is to use that in turning to the One who alone can make him perfectly happy.  The greatness of the end makes him exalted above those irrational creatures which can attain their end, so much lower than his, by their own natural powers.

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