Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Is Virtue?

1. Today in Philosophy of Human Nature we reviewed the first part of Plato's Meno in Great Dialogues of Plato, and discussed Socratic attempt to reach an understanding of a good definition of virtue, as opposed to mere examples of virtues. As a staunch Thomist I am satisfied with the definition and explanation of the definition of virtue in Summa Theologica II-I, q. 55, art. 4:
Bishop St. Augustine the Great of Hippo (Doctor Gratiae), De Libero Arbitrio 2:19: "Virtue is a good quality of the mind, by which we live righteously, of which no one can make bad use, which God works in us, without us."

2. We must know all the causes of virtue in order to discover "the perfect essential notion of virtue":
Formal cause: quality (genus) and good (difference)
Material cause: mind (subject)
Final cause (end): "by which we live righteously" (operative habit) "of which no one can make bad use" (which happens to always refer to good)
Efficient cause of infused virtue: God

Thus is manifest the accuracy of the Augustinian definition of virtue.

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