Nature of Virtue Essay
Essay Topic: Aristotle
Paper type: Essay
Words: 1293, Paragraphs: 14, Pages: 6
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? Saint Thomas Aquinas studied at the University of Paris in 1252 to work towards earning his theology degree. 1 Thomas obtained his license to teach theology at the university in 1256. 2 He started on his masterpiece in 1265 called Summa Theologica. 3 He didn’t complete it because he died on March 7, 1274 but in its two million words; the Summa Theologica contains more than five hundred questions, twenty-six hundred articles, and ten thousand objections and replies. 4 In this work, he carefully reasoned both sides of every issue seen in the Christian doctrine.
5 Part one’s subject is God regarding the presence and nature of God, angels, creation, the nature of man, and government. Part two’s subject is man and covers the reason for man, laws, immoralities and virtues, habits and many more. Part three subject is Christ regarding the incarnation, services, and the rebirth. One question he focuses on in Summa Theologica is what is the cause of virtue? Virtue is defined as a unity of words and deeds.
In Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas poses four points in which virtue is in us by nature, habituation, infusion, or habituation and infusion are the same species.
Is virtue in us by nature according to Thomas Aquinas? Nature is defined as what is natural to us at birth. Reason is a factor in human nature so therefore we reason by nature. 6 Reason is natural to man and man is defined as a human. So what is natural to man is natural by reason and virtue is in us by nature presented in Summa Theologica. 7 There are scriptures in the Bible that reason virtue is in us by nature. In Matthew 4:23 says “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
” 8 Jesus showed them the the natural virtues that man maintains naturally is in us. In Job 31:18, “That were an ill return for the loving care that has borne me company as I grew up from childhood, ever since I left my mother’s womb. ”9 This means that virtues are in us from birth so it is in us by nature. Intellectual virtues are can be anything with reason or thought behind it. Is virtue caused in us by habituation? According to Thomas, habituation is defined as to be used to something by repeating. In other words, it eventually becomes a habit.
Thomas concludes by saying “nothing other than a certain habitual conformity of either of these powers to reason. ” 10 However, in Romans 14:23 is says “He who hesitates, and eats none the less, is self-condemned; he acts in bad conscience, and wherever there is bad conscience, there is sin. ”11 So there is no virtue that can be in us by habituation because people cannot escape sin but by the grace of God says Aquinas. 12 There is no good without the Sovereign Good which is God. Neither can any virtues be caused in us by habituation, but only by the gift of God.
13 We do something out of habit not because God wants us to but it is like second nature to us. Lastly, actions lack the perfection of virtue. 14 An act is something we do or have done and can’t be considered a virtue if not done virtuously. Are virtues in us by infusion? Infusion could be defined as intellectual and moral actions. He says but it is not reasonable that virtues should be caused in us by nature. 15Intellectual virtues can be anything with reason and thought behind it. Moral virtues could be a moral act of forgiveness for example.
Moral virtues are acquired by repeatedly performing appropriate virtuous actions. 16It is an act of how you were brought up so to speak. Theological virtues are defined by theory or what you believe in. Consequently man needs in addition to be perfected by other principles in relation to his supernatural end. 17 Virtue is not the same concept as infused virtue because one must do it willingly and be conscious about doing it. Thomas Aquinas talks about whether virtue by habitation belongs to the same species as infused virtue.
Human habits and acts are specified, not by their last, but by their proximate end. 18 Habits are identified by their acts so there are good habits and bad habits. Habits are acquired virtuous acts and so are infused virtues. However, acquired and infused virtue differs in that wrought by God immediately, from that which is wrought by a creature. 19 Every action requires human reason. Aquinas says “But the man whom God made, is of the same species as a man begotten naturally; and the eye which He gave to the man born blind, as one produced by the power of generation.
Therefore it seems that acquired and infused virtue belong to the same species. ” 20 So Thomas Aquinas is saying that God made you who you are and it doesn’t matter if you are blind or not. God uses the power of generation but we are all humans whether we are blind or not. Now the object of every virtue is a good considered as in that virtue’s proper matter: thus the object of temperance is a good in respect of the pleasures connected with the concupiscence of touch.
21 Now it is evident that the mean that is appointed in such like concupiscence’s according to the rule of human reason, is seen under a different aspect from the mean which is fixed according to Divine rule. 22According to Aquinas, acquired and infused virtue is belonging to the same species. Thomas Aquinas questioned four points that tell us if virtue is in us by nature, habituation, infusion, or habituation and infusion are the same species. He used some of the scriptures out of the Bible to come to his conclusions.
He concludes that nature causes virtue because he says we are born into virtuous humans. He backs that up by giving us scriptures out of the Bible. Another thing he focuses on is if virtue is in us by habituation. We all have good and bad habits that are second nature to us. He says no because human virtue which is defined by human reason can be caused by human acts so habits that are in us is subject to our will. He asks whether any moral virtues are in us by infusion. He says theological virtues are infused in us by God. He also says moral virtues are the cause of our acts.
The fourth and final question he asked about virtue is whether virtue by habituation belongs to the same species as infused virtue? He says no they are not the same species because habits are known for their act and infused are known for their naturally occurrence. In conclusion of the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas believes that only nature is a factor in virtue that is in us because he says we are born with being virtuous. It is in our nature for us to be virtuous because it just comes naturally to man. Bibliography Aquinas, Thomas.
Summa Theologiae. Part two. Pages 1144-1148 Barnett, Dan. “Saint Thomas Aquinas. ” World Philosophers & Their Works (2000): 1-4. Literary Reference Center. Web. 2 Oct. 2013. Gallagher, David M. “Thomas Aquinas. ” Ethics (Ready Reference Series) (1994): 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web. 3 Oct. 2013. Miner, R. C. (2009). Thomas Aquinas on the Passions : A Study of Summa Theologiae, 1a2ae 22-48. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press. Pages 287-95 “Summa Theologica. ” Masterplots, Fourth Edition (2010): 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.