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St. Thomas Aquinas
Life and Times
St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) Aquinas came from a noble family from Naples. He joined the Dominican order against his family’s wishes Aquinas studied with Albert the Great in Paris and participated in the Aristotelian revival of the Middle Ages. He was canonized and became a saint in 1323.
Resisting the temptation of a prostitute and the discovery of Herring at night were the miracles used to justify his sainthood.
Aquinas’s extensive corpus of scholarship is perhaps a greater miracle than those mentioned above.
Aquinas was primarily a Christian theologian. He viewed human wisdom as structured like a pyramid with the sciences of ethics and politics at its base with philosophy above and theology at its apex. Natural philosophy are not contradictory but complementary. Faith and reason are valid in their own realms. Aquinas’ scholastic method integrates Aristotle’s teleological view of nature into the biblical theology of creation and Christian salvation.
Human beings are partners with God and politics is necessary even if there was no fall from the Garden of Eden. .Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government The political condition is a natural condition of human beings as part of creation. Aquinas states: Thus the goodness which in God is simple and unique is found in countless and differentiated creatures. Consequently it is the entire universe which shares perfectly the goodness of God and represents it more than one creature by itself.
Human co-creation requires human cooperation and cannot be done by single individuals with their limited talents.Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government . The power of speech show that solitary existence is inappropriate (“nature does nothing in vain”). speech and language provide the mans for interpersonal projects.Continued Aquinas’ reflections on human mutual dependence: Nonhuman animals have specific natural defenses (such as claws). whereas humans must rely on reason for their survival. .
For not human group can long endure if each person sought only his individual ends. One of them would have to provide for the common interest.Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government . then it follows that there must be regulation of society. .Continued Aquinas argues humans must achieve the humanization of the world and eternal salvation and this entails a principle of government within society. just as an organism would break apart unless it had some controlling power in it which worked for the good of all bodily parts…. If it is natural for human beings to live in society.
Humans should be put under the rule of those providing for the common interest or common good. fallible. culture. The king or government exists to prevent chaos. Original sin leaves humans wounded.Continued Humans require political rule for social survival. which is the enjoyment of God. . and virtue and permit humans to pursue their ultimate end. and frail though not vitiated or corrupted. Political institutions foster knowledge.Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government .
Questions for Reflection Do you agree that there is a moving principle or internal compulsion that generally inclines human society to a political unity and consequently forms and organizes the individual parts into a social whole? .
Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government . and the freedom to practice the Catholic faith are secured. Those who are superior by intellect are by nature rulers.Continued Ordering of the social whole implies a directing authority. but can only be realized if the secular goods of peace. order. . Spiritual goods are preeminent. protection of the family. This division of talents makes an ordering function necessary but the ultimate end is beyond the political ruler’s natural capacities. Others can carry out task under a supervisor and others can only follow. justice. Aquinas views the church as caring for souls but believes the church and state are ultimately complementary.
The best rulers follow both natural reason but also the divine law of love and mercy. A magnanimous (pr great-souled individual) must be willing to do great things on behalf of mutually dependent people as well as the glorification of God.Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government . .Continued Political authority is derived from God.
. A person can neglect God in his quest for honor.Continued The ruler should be aware of three ways he or she can become irrational: A person can desire more than his or her fair share of honor.Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government . A person can seek honor without concern for others. A magnanimous person must harmonize faith and reason so that such a person would merit honor and glory.
Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government . Thomas Gilby characterizes moral prudence as: … a good habit or settled quality.Continued Rulers should not be despotic or arrogant but should be prudent. and is completed in that being an effective command. . it ranges from our pondering over what should be done through our judgment of what we should choose to do. of the practical reason giving an active bent toward right doing as an individual act. Aquinas distinguishes between cleverness (astutia) and moral prudence (prudentia).
Continued The prudent ruler must: Assiduously investigate alternative courses of conduct together with the means for accomplishing a moral end. Know how to make practical judgments about possible courses of action. .Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government . Possess a good memory to draw from the storehouse of past experience. Possess foresight to reasonably project into the future the consequences of a given line of action. which involves close attention to the attendant circumstances of a political decision. Consult those with a strong reputation for practical wisdom and service in the public interest. Possess circumspection.
A ruler must temper his bodily or sexual powers with his or her rational faculties. . The good ruler rarely overpowers his subjects but channels their activities for the common good.Human Nature and the Common Good and the Necessity of Government .Continued Tyranny should be avoided by the appropriate selection of kings and construction of institutions.
Hence. so that the complaint seems to be fulfilled which the Lord uttered through the Prophet: “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard. the Lord by His prophets promises to His people as a great reward that He will give them one head that “one Prince will be in the midst of the them.” On the other hand.” . provinces and cities which are ruled under one king enjoy peace. For provinces or cities which are not ruled by one person are torn with dissentions and tossed about without peace. and delight in prosperity.On Kingship This is also evident from experience. flourish in justice.
as is evident from what has been stated above. since it belongs to the reason to direct the end.Types of Laws Political rulership must be carried out under law and the ruler should keep the laws he makes for others. . which is the first principle in all matters of action according to the Philosopher (Aristotle). Now the rule and measure of human acts. Aquinas describes the essence of law: Law is a rule and measure of acts whereby man is induced to act or is restrained from acting: for lex (law) is derived from ligare (to bind). because it binds one to act.
universal rules or general principles of action for ethical and political life. Human Law – True law that is derived from natural law. changeless. Natural Law – The practical reflection or sharing in “eternal reason” that provides humans with objective. . Divine Law – The revealed truths such as the ten commandments and the Sermon on the Mounts that supplement and corrects human fallibility and frailty. Eternal Law – Divine reason and wisdom comprise an eternal law – a law governing the whole creation.Types of Laws . a law not made but eternally existing and therefore unknowable to humans entirely.Continued True law is reasonable. yet the source of all true law on earth. A rule of state that is at odds with natural law is no law at all.
Rulership and the Natural Law Natural law should be discovered by the ruler’s reason and applied. A ruler needs broad experience and understanding of the political. . Synderesis is the natural capability of practical reason to discern the natural law and thereby. do good and avoid evil. economic and social context of his or her society to establish just punishments.
Caring for and protecting children forms the natural law general precept of monogamy. Here the natural law general precept is that humans should seek education. which are general precepts of natural law. so family life must be protected. . Humans are inclined to propagate the species. Humans as rational beings naturally desire or tend to obtain knowledge.Rulership and the Natural Law Continued General precepts based on the the principle of synderesis: Human well-being is such that humans tend toward selfpreservation. We should live in societies based on the division of labor as a general precept of natural law. Humans are naturally inclined to be socially or communally dependent. Our tendencies to protect ourselves require the protections of national security or housing.
private groups. . It must not be oppose to eternal law. and local communities as well as the centralized state. to the local community. up to the centralized state). It must be consistent with the principles of subsidiarity: the lowest unit of society that is capable of accomplishing a needed social function in an adequate manner should be permitted to perform that function (from the family. It must not exceed the authorized power of the lawgiver in a particular society. It must lay only reasonable burdens on subjects according to the equality of proportion (such as a graduated income tax based on the ability to pay).Rulership and the Natural Law Continued Human law is just and reasonable only if it meets these five criteria: It must be promulgated (or ordained) by a legitimate ruler for the common good – lawmaking must be transparent. This preserves the vitality of the family.
Man is bound to obey God and not man in spiritual affairs.Rulership and the Natural Law Continued Rulers are their subjects servants. . or salvation. perfect peace. Politics cannot produce perfect justice. Rulers must protect the spiritual equality of humans. The best regime for Aquinas is monarchy though he is willing to consider other regimes since no particular form of government is ordained by God.
” Now laws are said to be just. that is to say. they have the power of binding in conscience. when the law that is made does not exceed the power of the lawgiver – and from their form. Laws framed by man are either just or unjust. from the eternal law whence they are derived. according to Prov. both from the end.” From the Summa Theologica I answer that. according to an equality of proportion and with a view to the common good.“Natural Law and Justice. . when. 8:15 “By Me kings reign. to wit. to wit. when. If they be just. and lawgivers decree just things. burdens are laid on the subjects. they are ordained to the common good – and from their author.
Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Do you think that all or most human beings are capable of knowing these transcendent moral laws? Is a magnanimous and prudent leader like Dr. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.Questions for Reflection Martin Luther King Jr. To put it in the terms of St. I think that we have moral obligations to disobey unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is just as much moral obligation as cooperation with good. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. stated: How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. King absolutely necessary for principled civil disobedience to take place? . Thomas Aquinas. an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. On the other hand. I think that we all have moral obligations to obey just laws.
and sufficient distribution of material goods. Resistance to the injustice of the tyrant must be proportional to that injustice. moral enhancement. The tyrant is guilty of sedition from Aquinas’ perspective. Public authorities should remove a tyrant but appeal to divine intervention could be an alternative if this option is not available.Tyranny and Tyrannicide A tyrant seeks to impose his or her own private interests by force as opposed the legitimate political leader who seeks peace. .
making every reasonable effort not to substitute a new tyrant for the old one.Tyranny and Tyrannicide A ruler can lose the right to rule if behavior warrants. otherwise using coercion to move against a tyrant may bring about greater dangers if the violent resistance should fail and the tyrant becomes even more vicious. Private judgment must not to determine whether a tyrant who refuses to surrender should be slain. . Aquinas identified extreme preconditions to warrant a revolution against a tyrant: The tyranny must be excessive. thereby emphasizing the principle of a public body representing the national good as a whole. The leadership in removing the tyrant must support the common good and not private interests or passions. Great care must be given that the effort to overthrow the tyrant does not produce greater social factionalism and dissent among the people.
“ and it is said in Job that he “maketh a man that is a hypocrite to reign for the sins of the people.” Sin must therefore be done away with in order that the scourge of tyrants may cease.” From On Kingship But to deserve to secure this benefit from God. for it is by divine permission that wicked men receive power to rule as a punishment for sin. Tyrannicide and a Legitimate Revolution.“Tyrants. . as the Lord says by the Prophet Osee: “I will give thee a king in my wrath. the people must desist from sin.
1944. He concluded that Hitler’s brutal tyranny and the well-developed military resistance organization against Hitler justified a bombing attempt on Hitler’s life in terms of Aquinas’ prudential norms for a legitimate revolution. sought to organize an act of violent resistance against Adolf Hitler on July 20. 1944 resistance movement would you conclude that Colonel von Stauffenberg’s attempted tyrannicide was reasonable in Aquinas’ terms? One could ask this question in reference to the American revolution or to the coalition that sought the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. The resistance failed. Count Klaus von Stauffenberg.Resistance to Tyranny Toward the end of World War II. . After doing some research on the July 20. a devout Roman Catholic German colonel.
Reasonable chance of success – There is a reasonable chance of obtaining one of the justifiable objectives. Right intention – The war must be launched in a spirit of love. protecting people from aggression. and glory is unjustified according Aquinas. Last resort – All peaceable alternatives to war have been exhausted. Proportionality – The destructive impact of the war must be less than the good to be obtained by the war. Just authority – Legitimate authorities must make the decision to go to war. wealth. 2. restoring rights that have been wrongly taken away. .Just War War for power. In order for a war to be just it must meet the following criteria: Just cause – 1. reestablishing a just order. and 3.
Just War.” . so that you may vanquish those whom you war against. Ad Bonif. Clxxxix). 10:34). From the Summa Those who wage war justly aim at peace. and bring them to the prosperity of peace. Be peaceful. therefore. “We do not seek peace in order to be at war. except the evil peace. and so they are not opposed to peace. Hence Augustine says (Ep. but we go to war that we may have peace. which Our Lord “came not to send upon the earth” (Mt. in warring.
Question for Reflection During the past generation. do you think Aquinas’s criteria for a just war would lead you to conclude that either one or both of these wars should be considered just? . After some research and reflection. we have witnessed two Iraqi wars waged by the United States and its allies against Saddam Hussein: the Gulf War (1991) and Iraq’s War of Liberation (2003).
Adler .Mortimer J.
2001) was an American philosopher. As a philosopher he worked within theAristotelian and Thomistic traditions. educator. He worked for Columbia University.Mortimer Jerome Adler (December 28. and Adler's own Institute for Philosophical Research. and popular author. California. San Francisco.Chicago. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1902 – June 28. the University of Chicago. He lived for the longest stretches in New York City. and San Mateo. .
He worked for Columbia University. San Francisco. He lived for the longest stretches in New York City. the University of Chicago. and Adler's own Institute for Philosophical Research. and popular author. Encyclopædia Britannica. California. 1902 – June 28. As a philosopher he worked within theAristotelian and Thomistic traditions. Mortimer Jerome Adler (December 28. 2001) was an American philosopher. and San Mateo. . educator.Chicago.
An Educational Manifesto By Mortimer J. Adler .
Adler’s View of Education “There are no unteachable children. There are only schools and parents who fail to teach them. 8 The Paideia Proposal Democracy and how it relates to education Education is lifelong Schooling does not complete education .” Adler pg.
Exercises and Supervised Practice •Reading Writing Speaking Listening •Calculate Problem Solve Observe Measure Estimate •Exercising Critical Judgment Enlarged understanding of Ideas and Values Socratic Questioning and active Participation Discussion of books and other work of art And Involvement in artistic activities (music drama art) .SAME COURSE OF STUDY FOR ALL Acquisition of Organized Knowledge Didactic Instruction Lectures and Responses •Language Literature Fine Arts •Math and Natural Science •History Geography Social Studies Development of Skills of Learning Coaching.
Concepts that work Life long learners Active learning not passive Standards of quality .
Equality for All Preschool learning (2-3 years) Same educational objectives Same course of study No electives for the 12 years Satisfactory standard of accomplishment .
We must also do it to preserve our free institutions.” Adler page 77 The Paideia Proposal . But there is one more reason for exerting every effort to improve basic schooling.“The thrust of our argument so far has been that basic schooling ought to prepare every child to learn a living and live a good life.
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