Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas on magnanimity

In István Pieter Bejczy (ed.), Virtue Ethics in the Middle Ages: Commentaries on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, 1200 -1500. Brill (2008)
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Certain traits of the magnanimous man of the Nicomachean Ethics seem incompatible with gratitude and humility. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas are the first commentators of the Latin West who had access to the integral portrayal of magnanimity in the Nicomachean Ethics. Surprisingly, they welcomed the Aristotelian ideal of magnanimity without reservations. The paper summarizes Aristotle’s account of magnanimity, discusses briefly the transformation of this notion in Stoicism and early scholasticism, and analyzes Albert’s and Thomas’s interpretation of Aristotle. Thomas is found to be a more faithful and ingenious interpreter than Albert. He addresses and solves a number of philosophical problems of Aristotle’s account that still puzzle contemporary interpreters.



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Tobias Hoffmann
Sorbonne Université

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