Aquinas on Virtue

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260 pp., 6 x 9
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ISBN: 9781626164727 (162616472X)

260 pp., 6 x 9
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ISBN: 9781626164734 (1626164738)

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September 2017
LC: 2016044707

Moral Traditions series

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Aquinas on Virtue
A Causal Reading
Nicholas Austin
Aquinas on Virtue: A Causal Reading is an original interpretation of one of the most compelling accounts of virtue in the Western tradition, that of the great theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274). Taking as its starting point Aquinas's neglected definition of virtue in terms of its "causes," this book offers a systematic analysis of Aquinas on the nature, genesis, and role of virtue in human life.

Drawing on connections and contrasts between Aquinas and contemporary treatments of virtue, Austin argues that Aquinas's causal virtue theory retains its normative power today. As well as providing a synoptic account of Aquinas on virtue, the book includes an extended treatment of the cardinal virtue of temperance, an argument for the superiority of Aquinas's concept of "habit" over modern psychological accounts, and a rethinking of the relation between grace and virtue. With an approach that is distinctively theological yet strongly conversant with philosophy, this study will offer specialists a bold new interpretation of Aquinas's virtue theory while giving students a systematic introduction with suggested readings from his Summa Theologiae and On the Virtues.
Nicholas Austin, SJ, teaches theological ethics at Heythrop College, University of London. He is the author of several book chapters, essays, and articles.
David Cloutier, Kristin Heyer, and Andrea Vicini, SJ, Series Editors
Reviews
"Austin skillfully reconstructs Aquinas's multidimensional account of causation and uses it to reframe Aquinas's definition of virtue. In the process, he develops a method for reaching a more complete understanding of any particular virtue. A highly innovative and fruitful analysis."—Diana Fritz Cates, professor of religious ethics, University of Iowa



"Nicholas Austin's Aquinas on Virtue: A Causal Reading is a highly welcome and stimulating addition to Thomistic studies as well as to the modern literature on virtue ethics. His illumination of Aquinas's thinking on the virtues through the lens of the four classical causes which cooperate to produce them delivers an original and insightful treatment which is both temperate and persuasive, and deeply satisfying to follow."—Jack Mahoney, emeritus professor of moral and social theology in the University of London, and Honorary Fellow of Campion Hall, University of Oxford



"Nicholas Austin's sweeping study represents an impressive achievement in the field of Christian ethics. Its approach is more fundamental and thus more potentially illuminating than other introductions to Thomistic virtue available today. It provides a full account not only of what Aquinas understands virtue to be, but also the significance of the method by which he comes to and communicates that understanding. As enjoyable to read as it is challenging in its claims, this book is clearly the work of a master teacher and will no doubt be an invaluable resource for student and specialist alike."—Patrick Clark, University of Scranton



"Twelve years ago Nicholas Austin began a study into Thomas Aquinas's writings on temperance.  Along the way, he discovered that Thomas explored his own understanding of the virtue by engaging temperance's specific causes: material, formal, exemplary, efficient, and final causes.  That discovery led Austin to expand greatly his investigation: could the causes themselves provide the hermeneutical lens for understanding most of Thomas' writings on the virtues?  Here in your hands is Austin's long-awaited, ground-breaking answer."—James Keenan, Founders Chair, Boston College

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Note on Sources
Introduction

Part I. Defining Virtue
1. Defining Temperance Causally
2. Virtue as a Habit
3. Virtue as a Good Habit
4. Virtue's Definition

Part II. Causal Ethics
5. Exemplar and Object
6. End and Agent

Part III. The Causal Analysis of Virtue
7. Rational Virtue
8. Passionate Virtue
9. Telic Virtue
10. Graced Virtue
11. Rethinking Infusion

Appendix: Virtue Defined
Selected Bibliography
Index