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Aquinas' Theory on The Universe as The First Intellect

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Aquinas emphasizes that the universe is the first universe intellect. It enables man to strive towards faith. Additionally, it comes through God directly and it is complete and self-sufficient. On the other hand, Aquinas believes that we can never achieve complete or final happiness in this life. For him, final happiness consists of beatitude or supernatural union with God. Such an end lies far beyond what we through our natural human capacities can attain. For this reason, we not only need the virtues, but we also need God to transform our nature so that we might be suited to participate in divine beatitude. Thus we need God’s help to restore the good of our nature and bring us into conformity with his will. This paper first considers Aquinas’s metaethical views. Those views provide a good context for understanding his unique synthesis of Christian teaching and Aristotelian philosophy.

Also, his meta-ethical views provide an ideal background for understanding other features of his moral philosophy such as the nature of human action, virtue, natural law, and the ultimate end of human beings. While contemporary moral philosophers tend to address these subjects as discrete topics of study, Aquinas’s treatment of them yields a bracing, comprehensive view of the moral life. This paper presents these subjects in a way that illuminates their interconnected roles. Moreover, Aquinas believes that we inherited a propensity to sin from our first parent, Adam. To this end, God imbues us with his grace which comes in the form of divinely instantiated virtues and gifts.

One, Aquinas argues that everything that exists in the world is good. Everything and every person that exist have some degree of goodness. Existence things in the world include corruptible and incorruptible things. Corruptible things can be defined as items that can easily lose goodness. Incorruptible things can be defined as things cannot be made any worse. However, something can exist without any goodness at all. (Gaine 255-268) The only remedy to this fact is to deny the existence of things that have no goodness. Additionally, goodness and being are the same. Being is almost equivalent to what is actual or existing. By contrast, evil has no actuality in its own right. Evil can be defined as the deprivation of what is actual. Also, evil loses everything even the good of existence. Goodness can be more or less but being cannot be more or less because goodness is a relative property.

On the other hand, members of the same species can enjoy different grades of maturity or completeness. As Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump explain, something may be “a more or less fully developed actualized specimen” For example, a healthy adult dog is more developed that is, more actualized than a puppy, whose fledgling state prevents it from participating in those activities characteristic of more mature, nurturing their young, The actuality referred to here is what Aquinas dogs He says: “by its substantial being, everything is said to have being simply; but by any further actuality it is said to have being relatively” . The idea of “relative being” refers to the quality that accrues when a living thing exercises its species-defining capacities and, in turn, becomes a more perfect. Again, by “more perfect” Aquinas simply means “more actual.” For “anything whatever is perfect to the extent that it is in actuality, since potentiality without actuality is imperfect.

Two, human goodness depends on performing the activities that are in accord with our human nature. It can be grouped into cognitive and appetitive nature. Cognitive helps us understand and know the good and bad. Cognitive nature can be divided into 3 major steps according to Aquinas. Paying attention to our environment norms and values. Perception which includes capturing, finding and assessing situations to determine the bad and good. Reasoning, this is including internalizing and deciding whether to do the good or bad. Appetitive nature apprehends the goodness that something has. It is the will and desire to understand the good. The will to be motivated to do good.

From the abbreviated account of intellect and will provided thus far, it may appear that the intellect necessitates the will’s acts by its own evaluative portrayals of goodness. Yet Aquinas insists that no single account of the good can necessitate the will’s movement. Most goods do not have a necessary connection to happiness. That is, we do not need them in order to be happy; thus the will does not incline to them of necessity. According to Aquinas, the will does not incline necessarily to these goods, either. For in this life we cannot see God in all his goodness, and thus the connection between God, virtue, final happiness will always appear opaque. Aquinas writes: “until through the certitude of the Divine Vision the necessity of such connection be shown, the will does not adhere to God of necessity, nor to those things which are of God.

Three, Virtues. They can be defined as the behaviors showing high levels of morals in a person. They include justice, temperance, prudence, and culture. (Aroney 419-486) Justice can be defined as equality among all people. Also, there exist four types of justice. Commutative, distributive social and legal. Commutative is the principle of equality, distributive can be defined as the common welfare of sharing equally what God has created. Social states that everyone has a right to a fair say in the society and legal justice is the rightful obligations that the Government owes the citizens.

Human virtues form the soul with the habits of mind and will that support moral behavior, control passions, and avoid sin. Virtues guide our conduct according to the dictates of faith and reason, leading us toward freedom based on self-control and toward joy in living a good moral life. Compassion, responsibility, a sense of duty, self-discipline and restraint, honesty, loyalty, friendship, courage, and persistence are examples of desirable virtues for sustaining a moral life. Historically, we group the human virtues around what are called the Cardinal Virtues.

Lastly, Aquinas’s Natural Law Theory contains four different types of law: Eternal Law, Natural Law, Human Law, and Divine Law. The way to understand these four laws and how they relate to one another is via the Eternal Law, so it’s better to start thereby “Eternal Law’” Aquinas means God’s rational purpose and plan for all things. And because the Eternal Law is part of God’s mind then it has always, and will always, exist.

The Eternal Law is not simply something that God decided at some point to write. Aquinas thinks that everything has a purpose and follows a plan. He, like Aristotle, is a teleologist and believes that every object has a telos; the acorn has the telos of growing into an oak; the eye a telos of seeing; a rat of eating and reproducing. If something fulfills its purpose/plan, then it is following the Eternal Law Aquinas thinks that something is good in as far as it fulfills its purpose or plan. This fits with common sense. A good eye is one which sees well, an acorn is good if it grows into a strong oak tree.

All things considered, the universal is first in the intellect. Aquinas argues that one cannot be fully happy in this world. It can only be found if one has a supernatural union with God. Also, everything that exists in the world has its level of goodness. Incorruptible things cannot be made worse whereas corruptible things can lose goodness in them. Also, human goodness depends on performing an act that is in accord with our human nature. It can be grouped into cognitive and appetitive nature. Virtues guide our conduct according to the dictates of faith and reason, leading us toward freedom based on self-control and toward joy in living a good moral life. He, like Aristotle, is a teleologist and believes that every object has a telos; the acorn has the telos of growing into an oak; the eye a telos of seeing; a rat of eating and reproducing. If something fulfills its purpose/plan, then it is following the Eternal Law Aquinas thinks that something is good in as far as it fulfills its purpose or plan. This fits with common sense. A good eye is one which sees well, an acorn is good if it grows into a strong oak tree.

Works cited

  1. Feser, Edward. ‘Aquinas.’ Consciousness and the Great Philosophers. Routledge, 2016. 66-74.
  2. Francis Gaine OP, Simon. ‘Christ’s Acquired Knowledge According to Thomas Aquinas: How Aquinas’s Philosophy Helped and Hindered his Account.’ New Blackfriars 96.1063 (2015): 255-268.
  3. Aroney, Nicholas. ‘Subsidiarity, federalism and the best constitution: Thomas Aquinas on the city, province, and empire.’ Aquinas and Modern Law. Routledge, 2017. 419-486.
  4. Waltz, James. ‘Muhammad and the Muslims in St. Thomas Aquinas.’ Travelers, Intellectuals, and the World Beyond Medieval Europe. Routledge, 2017. 95-109.
  5. Nevitt, Turner C. ‘Survivalism, Corruptions, and Intermittent Existence in Aquinas.’ History of Philosophy Quarterly 31.1 (2014): 1-19.

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