2015 ISHS Superior Achievement Award
What constitutes Lincoln’s political greatness as a statesman? As a great leader, he saved the Union, presided over the end of slavery, and helped to pave the way for an interracial democracy. His great speeches provide enduring wisdom about human equality, democracy, free labor, and free society. Joseph R. Fornieri contends that Lincoln’s political genius is best understood in terms of a philosophical statesmanship that united greatness of thought and action, one that combined theory and practice. This philosophical statesmanship, Fornieri argues, can best be understood in terms of six dimensions of political leadership: wisdom, prudence, duty, magnanimity, rhetoric, and patriotism. Drawing on insights from history, politics, and philosophy, Fornieri tackles the question of how Lincoln’s statesmanship displayed each of these crucial elements.
Providing an accessible framework for understanding Lincoln’s statesmanship, this thoughtful study examines the sixteenth president’s political leadership in terms of the traditional moral vision of statecraft as understood by epic political philosophers such as Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Fornieri contends that Lincoln’s character is best understood in terms of Aquinas’s understanding of magnanimity or greatness of soul, the crowning virtue of statesmanship. True political greatness, as embodied by Lincoln, involves both humility and sacrificial service for the common good. The enduring wisdom and timeless teachings of these great thinkers, Fornieri shows, can lead to a deeper appreciation of statesmanship and of its embodiment in Abraham Lincoln.
With the great philosophers and books of western civilization as his guide, Fornieri demonstrates the important contribution of normative political philosophy to an understanding of our sixteenth president. Informed by political theory that draws on the classics in revealing the timelessness of Lincoln’s example, his interdisciplinary study offers profound insights for anyone interested in the nature of leadership, statesmanship, political philosophy, political ethics, political history, and constitutional law.
Economists and theologians usually inhabit different intellectual worlds. Economists investigate the workings of markets and tend to set ethical questions aside. Theologians, anxious to take up concerns raised by market outcomes, often dismiss economics and lose insights into the influence of market incentives on individual behavior. Mary L. Hirschfeld, who was a professor of economics for fifteen years before training as a theologian, seeks to bridge these two fields in this innovative work about economics and the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.According to Hirschfeld, an economics rooted in Thomistic thought integrates many of the insights of economists with a larger view of the good life, and gives us critical purchase on the ethical shortcomings of modern capitalism. In a Thomistic approach, she writes, ethics and economics cannot be reconciled if we begin with narrow questions about fair wages or the acceptability of usury. Rather, we must begin with an understanding of how economic life serves human happiness. The key point is that material wealth is an instrumental good, valuable only to the extent that it allows people to flourish. Hirschfeld uses that insight to develop an account of a genuinely humane economy in which pragmatic and material concerns matter but the pursuit of wealth for its own sake is not the ultimate goal.The Thomistic economics that Hirschfeld outlines is thus capable of dealing with our culture as it is, while still offering direction about how we might make the economy better serve the human good.
To dismiss the work of philosophers and theologians of the past because of their limited perceptions of the whole of humankind is tantamount to tossing the tot out with the tub water. Such is the case when feminist scholars of religion and ethics confront Thomas Aquinas, whose views of women can only be described as misogynistic. Rather than dispense with him, Susanne DeCrane seeks to engage Aquinas and reflect his otherwise compelling thought through the prism of feminist theology, hermeneutics, and ethics.
Focusing on one of Aquinas's great intellectual contributions, the fundamental notion of "the common good"—in short, the human will toward peace and justice—DeCrane demonstrates the currency of that notion through a contemporary social issue: women's health care in the United States and, specifically, black women and breast cancer. In her skillful re-engagement with Aquinas, DeCrane shows that certain aspects of religious traditions heretofore understood as oppressive to women and minority groups can actually be parsed, "retrieved," and used to rectify social ills.
Aquinas, Feminism, and the Common Good is a bold and intellectually rigorous feminist retrieval of an important text by a Catholic scholar seeking to remain in the tradition, while demanding that the tradition live up to its emphasis on human equity and justice.
Not much escapes the intellect and imagination of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. Whether it be love, children, education, moral reasoning, happiness or the proper dispositions for human existence, St. Thomas seems an expert in all of it. Crime and criminal conduct are no exceptions to this general tendency with him. Not only does he have much to say about it, what he relates is perpetually fresh and surely the bedrock of what is now taken for granted. In this short treatise, the focus targets St. Thomas’s criminal codification – his law of crimes.
Indeed the magnanimity of his crimes code is a subject matter not yet treated in any detail in the scholarly literature. While parts and pieces are covered in many quarters, the literature has yet to develop a systematic, codified examination of Thomistic criminal law. The essence of the endeavor is threefold: first, how does St. Thomas factor the nature of the human person into the concept of criminal culpability and personal responsibility; second, what types of criminal conduct does St. Thomas specifically delineate and define; and lastly, what is Thomas’s view of mitigation and defense, as well as the corresponding punishment meted out for criminal conduct? This short commentary zeroes in on Thomistic Criminal Law – a project which will illuminate the root, the heritage and the foundation of modern criminal codification.
In contemporary discussions of abortion, both sides argue well-worn positions, particularly concerning the question, When does human life begin? Though often invoked by the Catholic Church for support, Thomas Aquinas in fact held that human life begins after conception, not at the moment of union. But his overall thinking on questions of how humans come into being, and cease to be, is more subtle than either side in this polarized debate imagines. Fabrizio Amerini—an internationally-renowned scholar of medieval philosophy—does justice to Aquinas’ views on these controversial issues.Some pro-life proponents hold that Aquinas’ position is simply due to faulty biological knowledge, and if he knew what we know today about embryology, he would agree that human life begins at conception. Others argue that nothing Aquinas could learn from modern biology would have changed his mind. Amerini follows the twists and turns of Aquinas’ thinking to reach a nuanced and detailed solution in the final chapters that will unsettle familiar assumptions and arguments.Systematically examining all the pertinent texts and placing each in historical context, Amerini provides an accurate reconstruction of Aquinas’ account of the beginning and end of human life and assesses its bioethical implications for today. This major contribution is available to an English-speaking audience through translation by Mark Henninger, himself a noted scholar of medieval philosophy.
All of us want to be happy and live well. Sometimes intense emotions affect our happiness—and, in turn, our moral lives. Our emotions can have a significant impact on our perceptions of reality, the choices we make, and the ways in which we interact with others. Can we, as moral agents, have an effect on our emotions? Do we have any choice when it comes to our emotions?
In Aquinas on the Emotions, Diana Fritz Cates shows how emotions are composed as embodied mental states. She identifies various factors, including religious beliefs, intuitions, images, and questions that can affect the formation and the course of a person's emotions. She attends to the appetitive as well as the cognitive dimension of emotion, both of which Aquinas interprets with flexibility. The result is a powerful study of Aquinas that is also a resource for readers who want to understand and cultivate the emotional dimension of their lives.
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.
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