This paper is an exploration of the Thomistic vice of despair, one of two vices opposed to the theological virtue of hope. Aquinas's conception of despair as a vice, and a theological vice in particular, distances him from contemporary use of the term "despair" to describe an emotional state. His account nonetheless yields a compelling psychological portrait of moral degeneration, which I explain via despair's link to its "root," the capital vice of sloth. Cases in which sloth and its offspring (...) vices progress into full-fledged despair raise intersecting issues about whether and how despair might be remediable. I conclude by considering puzzles regarding despair's disordered effects on the intellect and will and weighing three possible means of remedying it. (shrink)
In this essay, I consider how the theological virtue of hope might be practiced. I will first explain Thomas Aquinas’s account of this virtue, including its structural relation to the passion of hope, its opposing vices, and its relationship to the friendship of charity. Then, using narrative and character analysis from the film The Shawshank Redemption, I examine a range of hopeful and proto-hopeful practices concerning both the goods one hopes for and the power one relies on to attain those (...) goods. In particular, I show how the film’s picture of the role friends and friendship play in catalyzing hope is a compelling metaphor for Christian hope’s reliance on God. (shrink)
The purpose of __Aquinas's Ethics__ is to place Thomas Aquinas's moral theory in its full philosophical and theological context and to do so in a way that makes Aquinas readily accessible to students and interested general readers, including those encountering Aquinas for the first time. Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Colleen McCluskey, and Christina Van Dyke begin by explaining Aquinas's theories of the human person and human action, since these ground his moral theory. In their interpretation, Aquinas's theological commitments crucially shape his (...) account of the human person, human capacities for action, and human flourishing. The authors develop a comprehensive picture of Aquinas's thought, which is designed to help students understand how his concept of happiness and the good life are part of a coherent, theologically-informed worldview. Many studies of Aquinas naturally focus on certain areas of his thought and tend to assume a general knowledge of the whole. __Aquinas's Ethics_ _takes the opposite approach: it intentionally links his metaphysics and anthropology to his action theory and ethics to illuminate how the moral theory is built on foundations laid elsewhere. The authors emphasize the integration of concepts of virtue, natural law, and divine grace within Aquinas's ethics, rather than treating such topics in isolation or opposition. Their approach, presented in clear and deliberately non-specialist language, reveals the coherent nature of Aquinas's account of the moral life and of what fulfills us as human beings. The result is a rich and engaging framework for further investigation of Aquinas's thought and its applications. _"___Aquinas’s Ethics_ _is a perfect introduction to one of the most sophisticated and influential ethical systems in Western thought. DeYoung, McCluskey, and Van Dyke capture the brilliant clarity of Aquinas’s moral vision, offering an illuminating perspective true to both the theoretical depth and practical richness of Aquinas’s writings. Those new to Aquinas’s ideas will find this book eminently readable. Everyone—students and scholars alike—will appreciate its direct, distinctive voice and clear philosophical intelligence." —_Scott MacDonald, Norma K. Regan Professor in Christian Studies, Cornell University_ "__Aquinas's Ethics_ _is an excellent contribution to the literature on Aquinas and ethics, providing an integrated and robust account of the relationship between a metaphysics of human nature, natural law theory, and virtue theory. Showing these inextricable connections, it is very much like the work of St. Thomas himself, and suggests why so many lesser theories of ethics are unsatisfying for their lack of depth and comprehensive reach." —_John Kavanaugh, S.J., Saint Louis University_ “DeYoung, McCluskey, and Van Dyke have written the ideal introduction to Aquinas’s ethics, situating it in the broader context of his thinking about human nature and action. Although Aquinas cared more about—and wrote more about—ethics than about any other philosophical topic, it remains the most unjustly neglected aspect of his thought. I know of no better guide to that territory than this book.” —_Robert Pasnau, University of Colorado at Boulder_. (shrink)
Julia Roberts on the red carpet at the Oscars. Lady Gaga singing “Applause” to worshipful fans at one of her sold-out concerts. And you and me in our Sunday best in the front row at church. What do we have in common? Chances are, says Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, that we all suffer from vainglory -- a keen desire for attention and approval. Although contemporary culture has largely forgotten about vainglory, it was on the original list of seven capital vices and (...) is perhaps more dangerous than ever today. In Vainglory: The Forgotten Vice, DeYoung tells the story of this vice, moving from its ancient origins to its modern expressions. She defines vainglory, gives examples from popular culture, explores motivational sources, and discusses other vices associated with it such as hypocrisy and boasting. After exposing the many ways in which vainglory can rear its ugly head, she explores personal spiritual practices that can help us resist it and community practices that can help us handle glory well. (shrink)
This paper compares Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s accounts of the virtue of magnanimity specifically as a corrective to the vice of pusillanimity. After definingpusillanimity and underscoring key features of Aristotelian magnanimity, I explain how Aquinas’s account of Christian magnanimity, by making humandependence on God fundamental to this virtue, not only clarifies the differences between the vice of pusillanimity and the virtue of humility, but also showswhy only Christian magnanimity can free us from improper and damaging forms of dependence on the opinions (...) and standards of others, enabling us toavoid the moral pitfalls of both pusillanimity and presumption. (shrink)
What would a course on ethics look like if it took into account Alasdair MacIntyre’s concerns about actually teaching students ethical practices? How could professors induct students into practices that prompt both reflection on their cultural formation and self-knowledge of the ways they have been formed by it? According to MacIntyre, such elements are prerequisites for an adequate moral education. His criticism of what he terms “Morality” includes the claim that most courses don’t even try to teach the right things. (...) He charges that academic teaching has little if anything to do with character formation, whereas thick practices can transform lives in ways mere argument can never do. Even those who appreciate his arguments and agree with his criticisms, however, may find implementing more adequate forms of ethical instruction in the university classroom a tall order. My goal in this essay is to provide a sketch of my own experimental course on normative ethics in order to illustrate what teaching according to a more MacIntyrean program might look like. (shrink)
Virtue in Scripture What is a Virtue? The History of Virtue and the Human Good (Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, medieval Christians, Hume, Kant, Foot, MacIntyre) Challenges to Virtue (situationism) Bibliography.
Thomas Osborne's study is doubly successful—first, as a careful account of the historical sources and multiple layers of concerns shaping thirteenth-century debates about whether God can be naturally loved more than oneself. Second, it is also an excellent articulation of the metaphysical and conceptual gaps between ancient and medieval eudaimonistic ethical theories and contemporary morality. Both thirteenth-century..