St. Thomas and Moral Taxonomy

Lawrence Dewan

in Wisdom, Law, and Virtue

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227969
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237210 | DOI:

Series: Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology

St. Thomas and Moral               Taxonomy

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In treating the question, “what is philosophy?” in the Republic, Plato carefully set forth the technique for developing an answer. He had to say what he meant by the “knowledge” that the philosopher is said to love. To do so, he presented the general domain of “powers,” readily exemplified by the senses of hearing and sight. He explained that these must be defined in function of that which they are “toward,” as sight is toward light and color, hearing toward sound. Aristotle later presented this as defining a power and an operation in terms of its “opposite,” as he says in the De anima. This chapter looks at some use made of that technique by Thomas Aquinas in presenting moral science. It begins by discussing the first question of the prima secundae, and then moves to question 18, the general discussion of the good and the bad in human acts. Lastly, it looks at one article that is the climax of question 19, on the general intention that should command the ethical domain.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas; ethical theory; moral science; philosophy; Plato

Chapter.  14132 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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