The Curious Case of Ivan Karamazov: A Thomistic Account of Wisdom and Pride

Heythrop Journal 59 (1):34-44 (2018)
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Thomas Aquinas famously argues that it is not necessary to be virtuous in order to be wise. To many contemporary moral philosophers, this claim signals Aquinas’s failure to address the interrelatedness of our moral and intellectual life. I conduct a case study of Ivan Karamazov to demonstrate that this view is mistaken. After sketching Ivan’s character, I present Aquinas’s accounts of wisdom and pride and their nuanced relationship. I argue that Ivan illustrates the Thomistic view that pride, though not an insurmountable obstacle to one’s acquisition of some intellectual virtues, makes it impossible for anyone to achieve wisdom. The vice of pride therefore proves truly devastating to one’s intellectual life, since wisdom, for Aquinas, is the highest and most important of intellectual virtues.



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Alina Beary
Biola University

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