Aquinas's Replication of the Acquired Moral Virtues: Rethinking the Standard Philosophical Interpretation of Moral Virtue in Aquinas

Journal of Religious Ethics 27 (1):3 - 27 (1999)
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Aquinas is often presented as following Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics" when treating moral virtue. Less often do philosophers consider that Aquinas's conception of the highest good and its relation to the functional character of human activity led him to break with Aristotle by replicating each of the acquired moral virtues on an infused level. The author suggests that we can discern reasons for this move by examining Aquinas's commentary on the "Sententiae" of Peter the Lombard and the "Summa theologiae" within their historical context. The author's thesis is that Dominican pastoral and intellectual concerns led Aquinas to argue that moral virtue must necessarily be ordered toward the highest good. Understanding this purpose helps to explain his presentation of moral virtue and its implications for standard philosophical interpretations of his work



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John Inglis
University of Dayton

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