Thomas Aquinas on Virtue and Human Flourishing
Stephen Theron, Author

Thomas Aquinas offers teleological systematisation of the habits needed for human flourishing. His metaphysical jurisprudence remodels ethics upon this, rather than on a moral precept. “Eternal law” governing the world determines “natural law”, reflected in human legislation (a variety of the “anthropic principle”). Finally, law, unwritten, is infused spirit as self-consciousness, “universal of universals”. Acquired virtues elicit this, become effusion, represented in religion as gifts or graces. But mind's or spirit's omnipresence, necessarily “closer to me than I am to myself”, supersedes the abstractions of heteronomy versus autonomy. The habitual well-being brought by prudence, justice, courage and temperance prompts this picture of gifts and graces. The “theological virtues”, faith (explicit or implicit) and hope fulfilled in love, “crown” our natural rationality, set toward as being the universal. “Become what you are”. Heteronomous law is thus “defused” at root by grounding it entirely upon immovable spiritual (mental) inclination towards universal fulfilment as naturally desired, reflection shows. Virtue, finally, is best assessed as a capacity for the individually beautiful yet habit-based action, Aristotle's to kalon. Aquinas puts this picture as summed up in the beatitudes of the “Sermon on the Mount”.

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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