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Summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on

Articles and Chapters 1. According to Aquinas, everything in the terrestrial world is created by God and endowed with a certain nature that defines what each sort of being is in its essence. A thing's nature is detectable not only in its external appearance, but also and more importantly through the natural inclinations which guide it to behave in conformity with the particular nature it has.

After defining law as "an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by someone who has care of the community, and promulgated. Even though the world governed by God's providence is temporal and limited, Aquinas calls the law that governs it the "eternal law.

As Aquinas explains, "the very idea of the government of things in God the Ruler of the universe, has the nature of a law. And since Divine Reason's conception of things is not subject to time but is eternal, according to Prov.

In the vast majority of cases, God governs his subjects through the eternal law without any possibility that that law might be disobeyed. This, summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on course, is because most beings in the universe or at least in the natural world do not possess the rational ability to act consciously in a way that is contrary to the eternal law implanted in them.

Completely unique among natural things, however, are humans who, although completely subject to divine providence and the eternal law, possess the power of summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on choice and therefore have a radically different relation to that summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on.

As Aquinas explains, "among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine Providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself, and for others. Wherefore, it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end.

Because the rational creature's relation to the eternal law is so different summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on that of any other created thing, Aquinas prefers to call the law that governs it by a different name. As the "rule and measure" of human behavior, the natural law provides the only possible basis for morality and politics. Simply stated, the natural law guides human beings through their fundamental inclinations toward the natural perfection that God, the author of the natural law, intends for them.

As we have seen, however, the human subjugation to the eternal law called the natural law is always concomitant with a certain awareness the human subject has of the law binding him. This awareness is crucial in Aquinas' view. Since one of the essential components of law is to be promulgated, the natural law would lose its legal character if human beings did not have the principles of that law instilled in their minds ST, I-II, 90.

Synderisis denotes a natural knowledge held by all people instructing them as to the fundamental moral requirements of their human nature.

Thomas Aquinas: Political Philosophy

As Aquinas explains, just as speculative knowledge requires there to be certain principles from which one can draw further conclusions, so also practical and moral knowledge presupposes an understanding of fundamental practical precepts from which more concrete moral directives may be derived. By an act of conscience he would reason that intercourse with this particular woman that is not his wife is an act of adultery and should therefore be avoided.

Thus understood, the natural law includes principles that are universally accessible regardless of time, place, or culture. It is in light of this teaching that Aquinas interprets St. Paul's argument that the "Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts. How are the precepts of the natural law derived? According to Aquinas, the very first precept is that "good is to be done and pursued and evil is to be avoided.

As he explains, this principle serves the practical reason just as the principle of non-contradiction serves the speculative reason. Just as the speculative intellect naturally apprehends the fact summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on "the same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time," the practical intellect apprehends that good is to be pursued and evil is to be avoided.

By definition, neither the first principle of speculative nor practical reason can be demonstrated. Summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on, they are principles without which human reasoning cannot coherently draw any conclusions whatsoever.

Otherwise stated, they are first principles inasmuch as they are not derived from any prior practical or speculative knowledge. Still, they are just as surely known as any other knowledge obtained through demonstrative reasoning.

In fact, they are naturally known and self-evident for the very same reason that they are not subject to demonstration. This is important from Aquinas' perspective because all practical knowledge including the moral and political sciences must rest upon certain principles before any valid conclusions are drawn. No one can prove this general principle to him. Aquinas would be the first to recognize, of course, that the simple requirements of doing good and avoiding evil fail to provide human beings with much content for pursuing the moral life.

In response to this Aquinas summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on that human beings must consult their natural inclinations. Beyond the mere knowledge that good is to be pursued and evil summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on our natural inclinations are the most fundamental guide to understanding where the natural law is directing us.

In other words, our natural inclinations reveal to us what the most fundamental summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on goods are. As Aquinas explains, man first has natural inclinations "in accordance with the nature he has in common with all substances. It may seem strange that Aquinas would list the pursuit of "sexual intercourse" as one of the natural inclinations supporting and defining the natural law. To be sure, Aquinas recognizes that all the aforementioned inclinations are subject to the corruption of our sinful nature.

It is not morally good, therefore, simply to act on an inclination. One must first recognize the natural purpose of a given inclination and only act upon it insofar as that purpose is respected. This is why Aquinas is quick to add that all inclinations belong to the natural law only insofar as they are "ruled by reason. As someone is inclined to sexual intercourse, for instance, he must also recognize that this natural good must be pursued only within a certain context that is, within marriage, open to the possibility of procreation, etc.

If this natural order of reason is ignored, any natural good even knowledge [ST, II-II, 167] can be pursued in an inappropriate way that is actually contrary to the natural law. The Political Nature of Man As we have seen, Aquinas mentions that one of the natural goods to which human beings are inclined is "to live in society.

Following "the Philosopher" Aquinas believes that political society civitas emerges from the needs and aspirations of human nature itself. Thus understood, it is not an invention of human ingenuity as in the political teachings of modern social contract theorists nor an artificial construction designed to make up for human nature's shortcomings. It is, rather, a prompting of nature itself that sets humans apart from all other natural creatures.

It is rather something to which human beings naturally aspire and which is necessary for the full perfection of their existence. The capacity for political society is not natural to man, therefore, in the same way as the five senses are natural. The naturalness of politics is more appropriately compared to the naturalness of moral virtue Commentary on the Politics, Book 1, Lesson 1 [40].

Even though human beings are inclined to moral virtue, acquiring the virtues nonetheless requires both education and habituation. In the same way, even though human beings are inclined to live in political societies, such societies must still be established, built, and maintained by human industry. To be fully human is to live in political society, and Aquinas makes a great deal of Aristotle's claim that one who is separated from society so as to be completely a-political must be either sub-human or super-human, either a "beast or a god.

Aquinas'Commentary, Book 1, Lesson 1 [39]. Aquinas admits, of course, that political society is not the only natural community. The family is natural in perhaps an even stronger sense and is prior to political society. The priority of the family, however, is not a priority of importance, since politics aims at a higher and nobler good than the family. It is rather a priority of development.

In other words, politics surpasses all other communities in dignity while at the same time depending upon and presupposing the family. On this point Aquinas follows Aristotle's explanation summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on how political society develops from other lower societies including both the family and the village. The human family comes into existence from the nearly universal tendency summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on males and females joining together for purposes summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on procreation.

Humans share with other animals and even plants a "natural appetite to leave after them another being like themselves," Commentary on the Politics, Book 1, Lesson 1 [18] and immediately see the utility if not the necessity of both parents remaining available to provide for the needs of the children and one another. As families grow in size and number there also seems to be a tendency for them to gravitate summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on one another and form villages. The reasons for this are primarily utilitarian.

Whereas the household suffices for providing the daily necessities of life, the village is necessary for providing non-daily commodities Commentary on the Politics, Book 1, Lesson 1 [27]. What Aquinas and Aristotle seem to have in mind in describing the emergence of the village is the division of labor. Whereas humans can reproduce and survive quite easily in families, life becomes much more productive and affluent when families come together in villages, since one man can now specialize in a certain task while fulfilling his family's remaining material needs through barter and trade.

Despite the village's usefulness to man, it nevertheless leaves him incomplete. This is partly because the village is still relatively small and so the effectiveness of the division of labor remains limited. Much more useful is the summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on of several villages, which provides a wider variety of commodities and specializations to be shared by means of exchange Commentary on the Politics Book 1, Lesson 1 [31].

This is one reason why the village is eclipsed by political society, which proves much more useful to human beings because of its greater size and much more elaborate governmental structure. There is, however, a far more important reason why political society comes into existence.

In addition to yielding greater protection and economic benefits, it also enhances the moral and intellectual lives of human beings.

St. Thomas Aquinas

By identifying with a political community, human beings begin to see the world in broader terms than the mere satisfaction of their bodily desires and physical needs. Whereas the residents of the village better serve their individual interests, the goal of the political community becomes the good of the whole, or the common good, which Aquinas claims following Aristotle is "better and more divine than the good of the individual.

The political community is thus understood as the first community larger than the family for which the individual makes great sacrifices, summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on it is not merely a larger cooperative venture for mutual economic benefit.

It is, rather, the social setting in which man truly finds his highest natural fulfillment. In this sense, the political community, even though not directed to the individual good, better serves the individual by promoting a life of virtue in which human existence can be greatly ennobled.

It is in this context that Aquinas argues again following Aristotle that although political society originally comes into being for the sake of living, it exists for the sake of "living well. Aquinas takes Aristotle's argument that political society transcends the village and completes human summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on existence to prove that the city is natural.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church

Similar, but not identical, to this claim is Aquinas' further assertion that man is by nature a "civic and social animal. To support this, Aquinas refers us to Aristotle's observation that human beings are the only animals possessing the ability to exercise speech. Summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on to be confused with mere voice voxspeech loquutio involves the communication of thoughts and concepts between persons ST, I-II, 72.

Whereas voice is found in many different animals that communicate their immediate desires and aversions to one another seen in the dog's bark and the lion's roar speech includes a conscious conception of what one is saying Commentary on the Politics, Book 1, Lecture 1 [36].

By means of speech, therefore, human beings may collectively deliberate on core civic matters regarding "what is useful and what is harmful," as well as "the just and the unjust. Whereas other animals exhibit a certain social tendency as bees instinctively work to preserve their hiveonly humans are social in the sense that they cooperate through speech to pursue a common understanding of justice, virtue, and the good.

Since speech is the outward expression of his inner rationality, man is political by nature for the same reason he is naturally rational. summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on

The fact that man is a naturally political animal has far-reaching implications. In addition to being a father, a mother, a farmer, or a teacher, a human being is more summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on identified as a citizen.

Achieving genuine human excellence, therefore, most always means achieving excellence as a citizen of some political society Aquinas does mention the possibility that someone's supernatural calling may necessitate that they live outside of political society.

As examples of such people, he mentions "John the Baptist and Blessed Anthony the hermit. To be sure, the requirements of good citizenship vary from regime to regime, but more generally conceived the good citizen is the one that places the common good above his own private good and acts accordingly.

In doing so, such a person exhibits the virtue of legal justice whereby all of his actions are referred in one way or another to the common good of his particular society ST, II-II, 58. Following the progression of Aristotle's discussion of citizenship, however, Aquinas recognizes a certain difficulty in assigning an unqualifiedly high value to summary of st thomas aquinas treastie on.