Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Natural Law and Culture: The 'Explosive Problematic' in Gaudium et spes

THE WEAKNESS OF THE SECOND Vatican Council's treatment of modern culture in Gaudium et spes is perhaps attributable to its generally Maritanian trajectory. If Cardinal Garrone is to be believed, it was Maritain's thinking, of which rapproachement with the Liberal-humanist (modern) tradition (as contained, say, in his work Integral Humanism) is central, that the guided the Conciliar fathers.*  This is unfortunate in Tracey Rowland's view, in that the deeper, more critical analyses of culture found in the works of Erich Przywara, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Romano Guardini, and (even earlier) in John Henry Newman, seem to have been overlooked.

In her book Culture and the Thomist Tradition, Professor Rowland gives a number of examples of the "explosive problematic" contained in Gaudium et spes.  She points to Gaudium et spes, No. 56, where the following question is asked:
What is to be done to prevent the increased exchanges between cultures, which should lead to a true and fruitful dialogue between groups and nations, from disturbing the life of communities, from destroying the wisdom received from ancestors, or from placing in danger the character proper to each people?
This appears to be a reference to Kultur.**  Taken at face value,*** what does this say to Christian missionaries who confront non-Christian cultures, some of which have anti-Christian or even anti-human elements?  Is it disturbing the life of communities and destroying the wisdom of ancestors or placing in danger the character of African tribal communities by insisting in monogamy and in battling polygamy?  Are all parts of all cultures to be preserved so as to avoid insult to "each people"?  This suggests putting manacles on the Gospel, something entirely impossible to comprehend in a Church document.

As another example, Professor Rowland turns to Gaudium et spes, No. 57:
Furthermore, when man gives himself to the various disciplines of philosophy, history and of mathematical and natural science, and when he cultivates the arts, he can do very much to elevate the human family to a more sublime understanding of truth, goodness, and beauty, and to the formation of considered opinions which have universal value. Thus mankind may be more clearly enlightened by that marvelous Wisdom which was with God from all eternity, composing all things with him, rejoicing in the earth, delighting in the sons of men.
This is a reference to culture as Bildung.**  This language, if understood within the "implied Trinitarian framework that draws attention to the relationship between spiritual formation and intellectual formation, and gives a specific Christian content to the concept of truth, beauty, and goodness," it can be construed in a manner perfectly compatible with Church Tradition.  If understood in the sense that this section is promoting Maritain's "theocentric humanism," and not in the sense of "anthropocentric humanism," it can find a home in the Church.

Yet, if it is wrested from this implied context, "the section is more immediately evocative of the works of Wilhelm on Humboldt and Friederich Schiller on the self-development and the 'aesthetic education of man.'"  Rowland, 24.  In other words, this section can appear to advocate an "Arisocratic Liberal" conception of self-development, one that looks as "education" as the means for inculcating "virtue," and thus can appear to be plugging itself into the "subterranean link between the Encyclopaedist and Genealogical traditions."  Surely the Church had no intent to listen to the voices of Voltaire or of Nietzsche?  Did the Church really intend to promote the Kierkegaardian "aesthete"?

To put it bluntly: where is grace?  Is the grace of Christianity irrelevant to culture in the sense of Bildung?

In this criticism, Professor Rowland is not alone.  In what can only be categorized as blunt and strong criticism of this section, Rowland points to Joseph Ratzinger's early (1969) commentary on Gaudium et spes, where he described sections of it as containing "eine geradezu pelagianische Terminlogie," "a downright Pelagian terminology."  As particular examples of this tendency, Ratzinger pointed to Gaudium et spes, Nos. 17, 41, where there seems to be an overemphasis on freedom and autonomy understood in a modern liberal manner, and not in a manner as freedom as "living in the presence of God."  There appears to be a de-emphasis of grace and an over-emphasis of self-development, self-will, self-perfection.

As Rowland summarizes these various sections of Gaudium et spes dealing with Bildung: "The need for the personality to have a Christian form of development might therefore be implied [in Gaudium et spes], but the whole tone of the discourse remains suggestive of the Liberal-humanist tradition with its idea of self-perfection through education and exercise of will-power."  Rowland, 25.

Another defect in Gaudium et spes seems to be in its rather uncritical handling of the problem of "mass culture" (see Gaudium et spes, No. 54).  How does the Kultur in modernity's "mass-culture" affect the ability for authentic Christian Bildung?  This fundamental question is largely overlooked.

As one final example, this time more in the area of Geist or ethos,** Professor Rowland points to Gaudium et spes No. 57, and the invocation of the "expert." The text speaks of the need to obtain "a clearer awareness of the responsibility of experts to aid and even to protect men . . . especially for those who are poor in culture or who are deprived of the opportunity to exercise responsibility."  As Professor Rowland puts it, this section of Gadium et spes

immediately raises the question: What is the basis for the authority of these benevolent 'experts'? . . . . [T]he whole notion of 'government by experts' stands in tension with the tradition of Catholic social thought which emphasises the importance of the principle of subsidiarity, and the tradition of governance in Catholic institutions, which has favoured what in Weberian terms would be classified as 'charismatic authority' over 'bureaucratic authority.'

Rowland, p. 26-27.  Did the Church really intend to baptize the modern bureaucrat?  Did it bless a modern peritocracy?  That is rather dubious, but the text would give support to such a view.

Finally, one might point out that the suggestion that "experts" can solve the problems of the "cultural poor" or the "poor in culture" is rather shallow.  Is the expert really the one that can provide, like a magician pulling a white rabbit out of the hat, technical solutions that will ipso facto aid the "culturally poor"?  There is a little bit of elitism in the air here.

*Although unmentioned by Prof. Rowland, one might mention Maritain's less ebullient and more sober later work, A Peasant of the Garrone, where he appears to re-think some of his earlier optimism.  One might also point out the accommodationism in Fr. John Courtney Murray, which, although focused more on the religious freedom issue, also seemed quite open to the Liberal-humanist tradition.  It should be noted, in any event, that both Maritain and Fr. Murray were and would have been appalled at the "hermeneutic of discontinuity" that followed VII.
**For Rowland's categorization of Kultur, Bildung, and Geist, see the posting "Natural Law and Culture: Towards a Better Definition of Culture."
***The language can be interpreted in a Herderian sense (i.e., in the manner of the German Romantic Johann Gottfried Herder).   It can also be interpreted in other senses.  Hence, in Rowland's view, the language "requires further clarification."  Rowland, 23.  There has to be some to distinguish between "a Christian conception of inculturation," which is entirely legitimate, and a "Herderian promotion of the preservation of all cultures that exhibit the Romantic qualities of individuality and originality," which seems relativistic and suffers from a cultural indifferentism.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Natural Law and Culture: Towards a Better Definition of Culture

PERHAPS THE MOST important Vatican II document as it relates to the Church's' relationship with the world at large, the Church's relationship ad extra, is Gaudium et spes. Unfortunately, there are some intrinsic weaknesses with the document arising from the fact that it was a compromise document (thereby often suffering from ambiguity or a lack of clarity), that the Conciliar fathers lacked a full understanding of modernity (particularly in its cultural manifestations), that the form of the document was innovative, indeed unprecedented (a "pastoral Constitution" as distinguished from a "dogmatic Constitution," and yet a "Constitution" without legal form, but instead a rather loose, hortatory and pastoral, form), its lack of definition of some essential  and frequently used terms (e.g., "modern man" and "modern world").  Moreover, these problems, which are already present in the Latin text, seem to have been exacerbated in the vernacular translations.  As Tracey Rowland summarizes it in her book Culture and the Thomist Tradition:

When taken together, the fact of compromise, the multiple contrasts, the unprecedented form, the absence of a clearly defined theological framework for its interpretation, the alternation between dogma and pastoral appeals and the terminological looseness all contributed to the complexity of the 'explosive problematic'.

Rowland, 19.

Then, as if to add insult to injury, the problems associated with the text were compounded by "the most commonly applied hermeneutical key to the interpretation of this document," a concept as banal and amorphous as aggiornamento.*  It seems like "openness" became "accommodation" became "capitulation."  It is no wonder the Church's message to the modern world--whatever it was in Gaudium et spes--was further muddled.  Instead of fresh air out, it was foul air in.

The problems with Gaudium et spes generally also find themselves exhibited in its definition of "culture."  The definition of culture in the Conciliar document is found in Paragraph 53.   Culture, it states, "in the general sense refers to all those things which to to the refining and developing of man's diverse mental and physical endowments."  As Rowland critiques it, "this definition is extremely broad in coverage, but shallow in analysis, and not explicitly related to the grace-nature problematic as one would expect in a theological document."  Rowland, 20.

What Rowland suggests would have behooved the Conciliar Fathers is to have adopted a little more rigorous  understanding of culture.  She draws from T.S. Eliot (and the subtleties of the German language as exploited by the German Kulturgeschichte scholars) and the Greek concepts of nomos, ethos, and logos, to expand the notion of "culture" into three separate senses:
  1. Culture of the individual (a specific form of Bildung, or self-development; nomos is "the element that gives each conception of self-formation or Bildung its guiding principles or laws");
  2. Culture of the group (the Geist or ethos of a specific civilization or institution = ethos)
  3. Culture of society as a whole (the Kultur or civilization of a society; logos = "that which give a given civilisation or Kultur its overarching and particular form.")
Rowland, 20-21.**

Taking these concepts and knitting them together within the context of her "Augustinian Thomist conception of culture," Rowland comes up with this definition of culture, which seems superior at once to the rather one dimensional definition found in Gaudium et spes, 53.

[A]n Augustinian Thomist conception of culture can be defined as one in which any given ethos is governed by the Christian virtues, the process of self-formation or Bildung is guided by the precepts of the Decalogue and revealed moral laws of the New Testament, and the logos or form is provided by the 'identities-in-relation' logic of the Trinitarian processions.

Rowland, 21.
*Even the term aggiornamento, the main "hermeneutical key," was ambiguous.  As Rowland notes, instead of mere uncritical accommodation  it probably was originally intended to "mean an updating or development of theological resources to provide a coherent critique of the culture of modernity, rather than a simple accommodation to it."  Rowland, 19.  Against the accomodators, it is this notion of aggiornamento that may be said to have been behind John Paul II and Benedict XVI's efforts to rectify this problem.
**Rowland cites to the classic study of T.S Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture and to R. Geuss, Morality, Culture, and History.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Natural Law and Culture: Recognizing Modernity

RECOGNIZING THE ROLE THAT CULTURE, especially modern culture, plays in the formation of persons is important.  There has been a tendency to view modernity as a separate superstructure with its own philosophical assumptions which, often, are in opposition to the natural moral law and the Faith.  Charles Taylor, one scholar of modernity, its history, and its development, has defined culture as a "specific understanding of 'personhood, social relations, states of mind, and virtues and vices' or 'constellation of understandings of person, nature, society and the good.'"  It includes, within this "constellation of understandings," the "relationship of the human person to 'God, the cosmos and other humans."  (Rowland, 12)  In short, it is a sort of an enfleshed or socially-institutionalized Weltanschaung.

Unfortunately, modern culture is not like a monastic habit.  One cannot look at a society and call it "modern" or "Christian" or "Muslim" like one could call a friar a Dominican if he wears a white habit with black scapula and a Franciscan if he wears a brown one.  Cultures blend, and, more often than not, especially in times of transition, one will have to struggle to determine what is what.  For this reason, the concept of "modernity" as a culture is not simply contemporaneous culture.  Contemporaneous culture in the West is the culture of modernity mixed in with the past culture of Christendom.

Modernity did not come upon us as a culture in one fell swoop.  Rather, the dismantling of Christianity culture came through a process of change, addition, subtraction, reconstruction during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries.  While the Popes of this time attacked individual phenomena, one cannot say that they ever constructed an exhaustive or plenary critique of modernity.  Rather, their attacks on the modernity as it evolved was more or less on an ad hoc basis.

Even during the Second Vatican Council, a council supposedly dedicated to the issue of the Church in modernity, seems to have failed to engage in a "theological examination of this culture phenomenon called 'modernity' or the 'modern world.'"  (Rowland, 13)  Its almost as if the Church fathers looked at the phenomenon of modernity as a social accident--sort of like a hurricane that causes damage--and not as a social substantive--like a plague that gets progressively worse without some sort of sustained effort at diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.  As Rowland in her book Culture and the Thomist Tradition puts it:

There was no consideration, at least not at a philosophical and/or theological level, of the question of what is, in essence, the culture of modernity, and how such a culture affects the spiritual and intellectual formation of persons and thier opportunites for evangelisation.
Rowland, 13.  There seems to be a time when the Gospel is preached without purse, shoes, or bag, but also a time when it needs a purse, and indeed, a sword.  (Luke 22:35-36).  In confronting modernity in the Second Vatican Council, the Church seems to have gone the former route, and so Catholics were rather vaguely enjoined to be "authentic," and "relevant," and "open" to "modernity" with joy and hope.

In the view of John O'Malley in Tradition and Transition: Historical Perspectives on Vatican II, this sort of je ne sais quoi attitude with respect to modernity contained an "explosive problematic" attached to it.  It was like sending lambs to wolves, mice to serpents.

The Church was ill-prepared to address the issue of modernity, especially in its cultural aspects.  As Rowland observes:
[T]he notion of "modernity" as a "cultural formation" had not yet arrived within the theological frameworks of the Conciliar fathers in 1962. In this context Hervé Carrier has observed that "prior to the Council, the capacity for cultural analysis was almost whooly ignored in the theological formation provided at the time"--the word "culture" did not even appear as an entry in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique.

Rowland, 14.  It was sort of like believing one had to take care of a simple wart, when one was in reality confronting something as complex, as serious, as dangerous, and as alive as a cancerous tumor.

Not informed by a clear sense of modern culture, the Church--then guided by Pope John XXIII--seemed (certainly in retrospect) altogether naïve about what it confronted.  In his opening address to the council fathers, Pope John XXIII spoke of modernity as something provided by God's Providence, something even that fulfilled "God's superior and inscrutable designs," something that was bound to lead "to the good of the Church."  In short, there was a "belief in the latently Christian orientation of the social trends."  (Rowland, 14).

This attitude was already seen in John XXIII's encyclical Pacem in Terris.  In that encyclical, John XXIII naïvely assumed, without any analysis, that the "mutual acknowledgement of rights and duties in society" presented the Church with a "kind of preparatio evangelii" because it made humans open to values such as "truth, justice, charity, and freedom."

However, as Rowland sees it, this supposed link between modern "rights and duties" and an openness to the Gospel was simply presumed.  Hobbesian rights, Beccarian justice, Rawlsian duties may not be the same as rights, justice, and duties from the perspective of the Gospel.  There may be an entire closure to transcendent values.

"[W]hat is missing from Pacem in Terris and John XXIII's optimistic judgements about the directions of social values in the 1950s is precisely what Taylor calls a cultural analysis--an understanding of the clusters of values fit together into constellations that become embodied in the practices and beliefs of individuals and the institutions in which they work."  (Rowland, 15).  This incorrigible optimism, founded largely upon a failure to undertake a cultural analysis adequate to the task, was continued by John XXIII's successor Paul VI.

If culture has a role in thought, in other words, if culture has a role in influencing conceptions of justice, of rationality, and of virtue (as is argued by Alasdair MacIntyre and those of the Geneological tradition) then to ignore its role is a huge error. What are "universal values" to a Liberal may not be "universal values" to one of the children of Abraham.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Culture and Natural Law: Introduction

WE ARE GENERALLY FAMILIAR with the maxim that grace builds upon nature. We might also extend that maxim out a bit and observe that grace may also build upon those aspects of human nature that extend beyond man's mere substance (a rational soul), but into that substance's external constructs: politics, family, history, in short, culture. We might say that grace builds upon nature, and nature builds upon culture, and so ultimately grace also builds upon culture.

When culture was in the main Christian--as in the high Middle ages when St. Thomas Aquinas, in what may have been the height of Christendom, wrote his Summa Theologiae--the importance of culture seemed to have been overlooked somewhat.  As Professor Tracey Rowland put it in her introduction to her book Culture and the Thomist Tradition After Vatican II,* the "given" nature of Christendom all about him resulted in the fact that the "rôle of culture in moral formation was not a problematic requiring his attention."  (p. 2)  Modernly, when our culture is so adverse to Christian morals and the Christian narrative (i.e., the Gospel), the importance of a right culture (like right reason) is increasingly recognized.  In the West, of course, we live in a culture where moral liberalism and moral nihilism reign supreme, where that amorphous and highly malleable "rights talk" entirely unanchored from nature or objective value is the language of the day.

The modern culture is highly anti-Catholic and anti-Christian, and the few remaining remnants of Christendom--which already appear as the ruins of the monasteries, friaries, convents, and priories after the their dissolution by the tyrant King Henry VIII--are still being dismantled.  Like the French Huguenots and Revolutionaries, modern barbarians are unhappy with the little of the Abbey of Cluny that remains in our culture: they want to continue taking the ashlar stones in place and haul them away for their own pet projects, their own homes and mills and stables and barns.  In such hostile cultural environment, neither the natural moral law nor grace flourishes.

To state a truism: since the high middle ages to modernity, the cultural narrative as changed.

The role of culture, both its hindrance to and its support of, a life of human flourishing, is painfully apparent to anyone sensitive to Christendom's demise, "when Christendom is but a historical memory for a significant proportion of the population, and the Christian soul is forged within a complex matrix of institutions founded upon a mixture of theistic, quasi-theistic and anti-theistic traditions."  (Rowland, p. 2)  This is the culture of modernity.  This is the culture we confront.

Additionally, culture has an effect even on reasoning.  Someone steeped in the Thomist tradition reasons differently from someone steeped in Enlightenment-derived Liberal or Romantic Genealogical philosophies, say, Locke, or Hume, or Rousseau,   or Nietzsche, or Marx.  These divided ways of thinking is a reality we also confront.

To some extent, there has been a certain diffidence in approaching the issue of culture and its effect on moral formation and moral flourishing.  The fear is that too much emphasis on culture in moral formation and moral flourishing seems to concede to much to the Genealogical school that, at root, all values are conventional, cultural.  The desire to emphasize that there are objective moral values, that there is a universally applicable natural moral law that is not conventional or culturally grounded, to avoid yielding ground to historicism or relativism, has seemed to contribute to trepidation in engaging the issue.  Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.  Thomists appear to avoid being fools; and their courage has been less than that of angels.  But according to Professor Rowland, this fear is unwarranted, and, in light of current circumstances, indefensible and irresponsible.  She urges the "need for an account of the rôle of culture in moral formation which does not undermine other elements of the tradition."  (Rowland, p. 7)

Professor Tracey Rowland

How does a Christian, in particular a Catholic Christian, approach this world of dismantled Christendom, where there is this admixture of "theistic, quasi-theistic, and anti-theistic traditions," and where, moreover, the reigning spirit seems to be concerned with yet the further minimization of the "theistic" and "quasi-theistic" remnants, and maximization of the "anti-theistic" traditions?

There seems to be somewhat of a division among Catholic thinkers regarding how we should best approach the problem with modernity.  Some believe that the "culture of modernity is neutral in relation to the flourishing of Christian practices, or even a second praeparatio envangelii in the manner of classical culture."  (Rowland, p. 2) We might call these the naive optimists.  This attitude appears to have been institutionalized in a manner in Vatican II's optimistic and perhaps somewhat naive (or perhaps now even dated) pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes.

Other scholars or authorities have the opinion that regards "the culture of modernity as the very solvent of Christian practices."  The scholars that we might put in this group include Catherine Pickstock (who speaks of a "polity of death"), David Schindler (who regards modern culture akin to a grace-resistant machine), and Alasdair MacIntyre (who sees modern culture as "toxic to the flourishing of virtue and the precepts of the natural law," Rowland, p. 2).  Even within the Church, the tocsin has been sounded.  Blessed Pope John Paul II's "culture of death," and Pope Benedict XVI's "tyranny of relativism" appear somewhat less embracing of modernity than Gaudium et spes.  We might call this view the realist view.

It seems that there is a disconnect between Gaudium et spes and reality, and so, to a certain extent, Catholics confront a sort of crisis.  Is it the accommodation of aggiornamento or the challenge of the New Evangelization?

It seems that Catholic leadership has begun to ask the question, "Foundations once destroyed, what can the just man do?" as did the Psalmist.  (Ps. 11:3 [10:4])  Ultimately,  Professor Rowland, whom we categorize with the realists, addresses this question in her book Culture and the Thomist Tradition After Vatican II.    Rowland's treatment is engaging and seems to bring forth out of the subtraditions of classical and analytical Thomism (in particular relying on Alasdair MacIntyre's work, but also on the work of David Schindler and Kenneth Schmitz, a sort of patchwork which she categorizes with the somewhat cumbersome term "postmodern Augustinian Thomism"), the Nouvelle Théologie, and Radical Orthodoxy We will spend our next series of postings on this highly-recommended work.

*Hereinafter in this in subsequent blog postings, identified as "Rowland."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Love is Virtue's Glue

IN HIS TREATMENT OF THE VIRTUES in his Summa de bono, Philip the Chancellor asks the question whether one must have all the virtues or none at all. With respect to the infused virtues, Philip raises a possible objection to their unity. He notes that charity is often called the form of all the virtues, and this might be understood as being that "just as charity is one specific kind of virtue, so are the others." In other words, charity is one virtue just like justice, for example, is another. If virtue is defined as "a good quality of mind which God produces in us without our help," which is how Peter Lombard in his Sentences defined it (Sent. 2 d. 27.1.1,2:480), then there is no requirement that the virtues be united or connected.

Moreover, since charity, unlike justice of the other cardinal virtues, is strictly an infused virtue (there being no such thing as a natural or "political" charity), it does not seem that charity could be the glue that binds the virtues into one. "[C]harity as charity is not the cause why the virtues are connected, since it is not found in political virtue."

The Cardinal Virtues by Antonio Pollaiuolo 
at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.

In addressing these objections to the unity of the virtues, Philip the Chancellor starts by distinguishing charity. He observes that charity may be taken to mean at least two things. First, it may be understood as a "specific virtue." It also may be taken not as a determinate virtue, but in the general sense of love, and so "the reason for and cause of every virtue."

If charity is understood as a specific virtue, then it divides the genus of virtue, and is one specific virtue among other specif virtues.  "Since one species of virtue is not the reason for or cause for another, in this respect charity is not the cause  the reason for the other virtues, nor is it the immediate cause of the connection among the virtues."

But charity should not be so narrowly construed.  Rather, charity should be viewed not only as a specific virtue, but as "general love."  It is understood broadly that charity is the "reason for and cause of every virtue."  This is how St. Augustine understands it in his treatise on the morals of the Catholic Church, De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae.  In that work, St. Augustine defines every other species of virtue by means of love.  (This part of St. Augustine's work merits quotation in full:

As to virtue leading us to a happy life, I hold virtue to be nothing else than perfect love of God. For the fourfold division of virtue I regard as taken from four forms of love. For these four virtues (would that all felt their influence in their minds as they have their names in their mouths !), I should have no hesitation in defining them: that temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it. The object of this love is not anything, but only God, the chief good, the highest wisdom, the perfect harmony. So we may express the definition thus: that temperance is love keeping itself entire and incorrupt for God; fortitude is love bearing everything readily for the sake of God; justice is love serving God only, and therefore ruling well all else, as subject to man; prudence is love making a right distinction between what helps it towards God and what might hinder it.

De mor., 15.25.)

The specific virtue of charity should be distinguished from general charity.  Specific charity or love "has the same thing for its matter and its end, since it loves the highest good for its own sake."  On the other hand, general charity, "has one thing for its matter and another for its end."  General charity "has some good which is a way to God for its matter," but it has "God himself, who is the highest good, for its end."

Philip the Chancellor then outlines the scheme of grace, charity, and the virtues.  The first thing we must keep in mind is grace.  Grace is the first thing to keep in mind since it is grace which prompts charity and makes it grow.  Grace is then the cause of both specific charity and general love.  All the virtues are referable to charity:

[W]ithouth this love [of God engendered by grace] prudence would not be a virtue, nor would justice, nor anything else. Therefore [general love] is called the reason for and immediate cause of every [infused] virtue. For the same thing can be said of faith and hope. Charity, however, as love, agrees with general love, but it differs, however, as was said, because it has a different matter from general love, that is, God. They also agree in having the same end, namely, God, and because there would be no general love if there were no specific love, this union in their end comes from specific different matters for these virtues, and different acts, nevertheless they are immediately united in general love, and from this union it follows immediately that whoever has one virtue has all.
For Philip the Chancellor, it is general love engendered by grace that is the glue which cements all infused virtues, not only the cardinal virtues, but also the theological virtues.  These virtues are all connected by general love which has one end, the highest good, which is God.  As additional support for his teaching that general love or charity binds all the virtues together, Philip cites to St. Paul's letter to the Colossians, where he admonishes Christians to "above all these put on love, which is the bond of perfection."  That is also why the Gloss on this states that "Charity connects all the others [of the virtues], so they are not missing."

This is why whoever has one virtue, since he does not have it without charity, and love of every good follows on charity, as a consequence he has love of every good and so has every virtue. For the same reason, it follows that no vice, since if it has love of rendering to each what is his own, lacks it its opposite vice; and in the same way, however has love of moderation lacks the opposing vice. But whoever has one love, since he has it together with charity, has every love. Therefore, he must necessarily lack every opposed vice.

If general love is sufficient to assure that one has all the infused theological virtues and cardinal virtues, the question naturally raises itself: is general charity alone enough to assure us salvation?  Do all the infused theological virtues and cardinal virtues follow in the general love of God?

In answering that question, we will round up and complete Philip the Chancellor's treatment of virtues in his work Summa de bono.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Unity of the Infused Cardinal Virtues

PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR explores those authorities and arguments which suggest the possibility that one can have one  virtue without having all virtues.  He begins with a saying attributed to St. Augustine (but whose source he has been unable to find).  "As one can possess one virtue more than another, so one can possess one virtue but not another."  To counter this authority, Philip suggests that  the foundation of the argument is wrong in because it confuses possessing more of a virtue with making more use of a virtue.  Therefore, the fact that one might make more use of a virtue (and therefore give the appearance of possessing more of that virtue) does not mean that one can possess one virtue, but not another.

In one of his letters to St. Jerome (Ep. 167:3.10), St. Augustine states that the opinion that "whoever has one has all" is only an opinion held by some men, albeit great men.  This suggests that St. Augustine may have been implying that the argument was false.  Philip rejects this implied negative.  He interprets St. Augustine's reference to the opinions of men as an effort to distinguish between reason (which he describes as the "footprint of God") and faith (those things about which it is written "unless you believe you shall not understand").  By referring to men, St. Augustine was referring to reason, and not to revelation or faith.  And so the upshot of his statement is that the unity of the virtues is something that is not only understood as being part of the faith, but is also something that is understood as true by the use of reason.

The Cardinal Virtues

The third seemingly contrary argument is again from authority attributed to St. Augustine (in a text, the source of which Philip was unable to locate).  "As our body climbing out of a pit is not illuminated all at once," says St. Augustine, "so our soul climbing out of sin is not illuminated all at once."  Since St. Augustine appears to be adopting a law of gradualism with respect to sin, one can infer that he would adopt a law of gradualism with respect to virtue.  Philip observes that the implication is not necessary.  First, one can interpret the image of gradually coming to light as not applying to different faculties, so that reason is illuminated first, and then only the affections, so that the gradual enlightening is not of a priority of nature (which is perfected by grace and therefore has all the infused virtues, if in a state of grace, and none if it is outside a state of grace), but not a priority in time.  In other words, grace (and the infused virtues) take time to work in the nature of man; but that does not mean that the virtues are not there working to synthesize reason and affection.  The other interpretation is that St. Augustine is referring not to the existence of virtues (which cannot be piecemeal), but to their use (which may be piecemeal).

Philip next draws from scriptural interpretations as found in the marginal glosses.  For example, the gloss on Mark 8:24 (regarding the blind man who does not see all at once, but sees men at first as trees walking) is that the cure out of spiritual blindness does not occur all at once, but with "difficulty, as though step by step." If this is applied to virtues, then it suggests that one progressively acquires the infused virtues and therefore they are not "one in all and all in one."  Here, there is a sort of a law of gradualism in the virtues, but not a gradualism of the law in virtues.  "[W]hoever leaves darkness does not immediately see distinctly and fully, but with confusion.  His spiritual cure is understood to be perfect, through infusion of the virtues, yet certain remnants of sin remain, for example, in our memory and such powers, and even certain impediments [to virtue] remain, for which reason he [the blind man in the Gospel story] is said not to see fully."

Another gloss, this one on Job 38:24 ("through what way is the light dispensed?") construes that scriptural verse as follows: "Say by the way, that is, by what order do I infuse justice, with now this and now that virtue I complete [it]."  This suggests that virtues are not given all at once in the infused soul.  But this is mistaken in Philip's view, because the gloss should be interpreted to refer to the use of virtue, and not to the infused virtues being present in the soul.

The next argument is based upon reason.  It focuses on the cause of the infused virtues and their interconnectivity and comparison to vice and the interconnectivity of vice.  But to this, Philip the Chancellor states as follows:

In reality it is true, as is said in the argument that whoever has one virtues has no vice, so likewise, whoever has one vice has no virtue, not because of a connection among the vices but because of a connection among the virtues. The connection among the virtues, as the objection says, is not owing to their efficient cause [i.e., God], nor is it owing to some common effect, like making us worthy of eternal life. Rather, it comes from an intrinsic cause existing in the virtues themselves, as will be shown.
The final argument* is based upon reason.  It argues that since each act performed under the influence of infused virtue merits eternal life, then, if one were to subtract out the other virtues unnecessary to that act which merits eternal life, one would still merit eternal life.  This suggests that the infused virtues are not a "one in all and all in one" type of thing.  To this argument, Philip observes that though one act of one virtue can merit eternal life, "yet based on one virtue along one cannot be worthy of eternal life [by God's grace], which one can achieve, even without any meritorious act, as in the case of [baptized] children."  Likewise, "even though one actually can gain merit by one virtue without the rest, one cannot be worthy [by God's grace] of eternal life without being worthy [again by God's grace] of he other virtue."  For this reason, "the connection of the virtues is not based on merit, but rather on worthiness [which is dependent upon God's grace]."

*Philip the Chancellor discusses the seventh objection at great length, and we shall treat it in our next blog posting separately.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: On the Unity of the Infused Virtues

PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR explores the issue of the unity of the cardinal virtues from he perspective of the infused virtues. While he seems to hold the traditional doctrine that the person who has one natural or acquired virtue must have them all, and the one who must be truly virtuous must have all the natural or acquired virtues, it does not follow that this is true for the infused virtues, even for those infused or supernatural virtues are those parallel to the natural or acquired cardinal virtues.

There are a number of proof texts which Philip the Chancellor invokes as authority that the "one-in-all" theory.  Drawing on St. Jerome's gloss on Ezekiel 1:11 ("And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined, and two covered their bodies"), Philip noted that St. Jerome stated as to Ezekiel: "He [Ezekiel] said the four virtues are joined to each other so that whoever lacks one lacks all."  (Glossa marg., 4: 1076C).

Similarly, St. Jerome advocates this view in his commentary on Isaiah 16:11 ("Wherefore my bowels shall sound like a harp for Moab, and my inward parts for the brick wall.").  "As a lyre does not emit its complex sound if one of its strings is broken, so if one string of the virtues is absent, it will not resonate sweetly."  Later in the commentary, St. Jerome analogizes the infused virtues to acquired virtues by noting that the "philosophers" held that the acquired virtues "stick together."  He also compares the infused virtues to the moral law and cites St. James' statement (James 2:10) in his epistle ("And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all."), suggesting that the infused virtues are, like the law, something that must be "one-in-all."  (Glossa marg., 4:181B)

Philip also turns to Pope St. Gregory the Great's Moralia in Job. Therein, St. Gregory notes: "None is truly a virtue if not mixed with the other virtues," and observes, further, that "to the extent that one virtue is joined to another are good deeds more enkindled."*  St. Gregory, like St. Jerome, also interprets James 2:10 as providing evidence that failing "in one point destroys many good deeds," and puts one "outside charity and any other virtue."

In addition to these arguments from authority, St. Philip also brings forth some arguments from reason applied to the faith (in a sort of analogia fidei) that suggest that the infused virtues have an "all in one, one in all" character.  One argument draws from Christ's redemption and its effect on the human soul: "[T]he Lord is a physician who heals no one in part, but wholly."  Since healing comes from the infused virtues, it follows that "all the virtues are infused together."

In another of his arguments based upon analogia fidei (and implicitly drawing from St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians), Philip the Chancellor looks at the notion of glory and of merit before God: "If grace makes a human worthy of glory," it is because the "human becomes grace before God through virtue given by grace."  "But God is good to the highest degree," Philip notes, and this has implications: "Therefore, there will be no commerce with Belial in one and the same soul."  The conclusion is that "a human will not be graced before God unless possessing the habits of all the virtues; otherwise, there would be commerce between Christ and Belial in one and the same soul."***

The Four Cardinal Virtues in the Paseo del Ayuntamiento, Xalapa, Veracruz, 
by Armando Zavaleta León and Enrrique Guerra

Yet again, Philip argues that if grace makes us worthy of the light glory, and the light of glory (in heaven) "is remuneration and complete happiness," then it seems that "free will is infused with the virtues," and this suggests that one must be infused with all the virtues or none at all.  "For how could desire by worthy of eternity if it did not have meritorious habit, and emotion, and reason as well."  "From this it is clear," Philip concludes, "that whoever has one virtue has all."

In a similar argument, Philip notes that the only part of man that can be reformed by grace is that part within us that is made in the image of God.  The "uncreated Trinity" reforms the "created trinity," and so the soul is measured by the Trinity when it is reformed.  It is obviously unbecoming for the work of the Trinity in the human soul to be incomplete.  "Therefore, in the trinity of powers [in the soul], nothing is left behind lacking reformation, something which happens only by receiving the fullness of all the virtues."

Finally, Philip argues from sin: a virtue without grace and a mortal sin exist together in the rational soul.  "Nonetheless, a virtue of this sort and a mortal sin of this sort are not immediately present together."  The reason for this is that "because if one does not possess the continence [an infused virtue] which comes from grace, it does not following that he possesses the opposing incontinence."  Why this is so is that one can lose the infused virtue of continence "due to another vice, such as avarice."  But if one vice tarnishes the whole, does that mean that there is a "connection among the vices"?  No, there is no such connection among the vices because it is not true that "whoever has one vice has all the vices."  The only explanation for why one vice vitiates all virtue, then, "must come from the connection of the virtues."  This suggests that virtues are an "all in one, one in all" proposition.

Philip obviously is of the opinion that the infused virtues are an "all in one, one in all" proposition.  But before concluding this, he also looks at various opposing authorities that suggest that perhaps the infused virtues are not "all in one, and one in all," but rather something different.  He then disposes of these arguments   We will address this pro-and-con part of Philip the Chancellor's Summa de bono next.  Then our last posting on Philip the Chancellor will be on the issue of charity, and whether this one theological virtue, without any of the others, is sufficient to avail us eternal life.

*The first is a quote to Moralia 1.32.45.  The second appears to be a paraphrase of Moralia 1.32.48.
**This is a paraphrase of Moralia 6:1277B.
***Compare: "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" (2 Cor. 6:15)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Looking at Virtue Analogically

TO THE ARGUMENTS THAT THE CARDINAL VIRTUES enjoy a unity, so that they must be all for one and one for all, Philip the Chancellor throws out his sed contras.  He throws out two challenges to the traditional view.*  The first is that each particular virtue may be said to be a species of of the genus virtue, and each particular vice a species of the genus vice, and so it can be envisioned how one may have a particular species of virtue along with a particular species of vice, and therefore it is not inconsistent to say that one may be specific virtues and specific vices in the same person.  "Therefore," Philip the Chancellor concludes, "whoever has on virtue need not to have them all."

The next sed contra argument against the unity of virtues begins with the definition of virtue.  If virtue is defined as "a habit making its deed good," and vice is defined as "a habit making its deed bad," then it would seem that good habits and bad habits can exist in the same person.  This suggests that the cardinal virtues are not all unified, so that one need not have all the virtues or none.

The Four Cardinal Virtues

In order to respond to these counter-arguments, Philip identifies something he calls political virtue.  Political virtues are those that govern particular deeds, and so, just like one human can do one good deed and another evil deed (the deeds being discrete), so also political virtue is discrete so that one can have both virtue and vice.  Similarly, one can have one good sense (sight, for example) and yet have one sense fail (hearing, for example).

The cardinal virtues can be understood in two ways according to Philip.  A cardinal virtue--whether it be justice, fortitude, temperance, or prudence--can be understood "according to the act of its proper power" and according to "the proper matter of that power."  This is how Aristotle, for example, defines it in his Nicomachean Ethics, for he "descends to the special acts of the virtues."  If viewed from this perspective, there can be situations where one can have one virtue, and not another.  The reason for this is "because the act of a power . . . does not extend beyond its proper power or beyond its matter."  Since each virtue has its proper power and matter, one virtue does not extend beyond that, and so one can have, say, justice, without, say chastity or temperance.

But the cardinal virtues can be viewed from another perspective.  "It is also possible," Philip observes, "that the acts of these powers be taken analogically an be taken about their matter analogically."  In this way, one does not descend to the special acts, but one ascends, so to speak, to a more abstract level.  This allows us to expand the concept of virtue so that justice (looked at as something to be desired) can be the subject of temperance.  Likewise, justice (looked at as something difficult) can be the subject of fortitude.  Viewed analogically, therefore, there is a certain analogical relationship between the cardinal virtues, even though they may at with their own proper power and matter of that power.  The borders between the virtues therefore begin to disappear.

Viewed analogically, the cardinal virtues are such that "it is true that whoever has one virtue has them all."  And when one understands the virtues in such an analogical matter, one can see how it is possible for Seneca to say that "[a]ll that happens well happens justly and bravely and prudently and temperately."  One can also see, how Cicero did, that the virtues are not like collecting Corinthian vases, but the loss of one virtue results in the loss of virtue.  This analogical relationship between the virtues is also what St. Bernard of Clairvaux had in mind in his book dedicated to Pope Eugenius.**

In summary, if one views virtue from the perspective of its particular act or matter, then one is not wed to the idea that one must have all virtues or none at all.  However, if one views virtues more broadly, that is analogically, it would appear that the loss of one virtue (viewed analogically) would mean one has lost the rest of them (viewed analogically).

*From the context, it is clear that Philip had two additional arguments, both based upon an analogy between the virtues and the senses.  This is known because he responds to them further in the text.  For some reason, the arguments themselves are not found in extant texts.
**For these texts, see our last posting on this subject, Philip the Chancellor: On the Unity of the Virtues.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: On the Unity of the Virtues

AS WE OBSERVED IN OUR LAST POST, Philip the Chancellor advances the view that the cardinal virtues are acquired, which is to say they are the product of human effort and are natural in character.  Thus they are of a different order than the theological virtues, which have been infused in the Christian upon baptism and so are supernatural in both origin and end.  There is therefore in Philip's view virtues that com from grace and moral virtues that spring from nature.

Philip also addresses the question of the unity of the cardinal virtues.  The cardinal virtues seem, at least at first blush, to be separate, and not really one.  The position against the unity of the virtues is first seen through the eyes of Stoic authority.  Seneca, in his Epistle 66, says: "All that happens well happens justly and bravely and prudently and temperately."  This suggests separateness.  Similarly, Cicero in his Tusculan Disputations (2.14.32) contrasts the virtues to Corinthian vases, so that they appear not to be distinct.  "If you lose one of your Corinthians [vases], you can say that the rest of the vases are safe."  But, in Cicero's view, this cannot be said of the virtues, for "if you lose one of your virtues, you must necessarily confess that you no longer have any virtue."

The Cardinal Virtues by Michele Schiavoni (1760) 
in the Major Sacristy of the Church of Saint Geremia and Lucia

The same view regarding the unity of virtues seems to be supported by Christian authority.  So St. Bernard  of Clairvaux advocates the unity of virtues in his book to Pope Eugenius, De Consideratione.  Through a series of rhetorical questions, St. Bernard clearly takes the view that the cardinal virtues are one, so that they must be all had or none had:

What is temperance but holding to the mean in our actions by removing excess and deficiency? And what is courage but confronting the arduous and persevering amid difficulties? And what is justice but rendering to each what is his due? And what is prudence but in our choices distinguishing good from bad? . . . . The mean is where there is the whole internal power and the very core of all the virtues, and where all are so united that all seem one virtue. This is especially true since they do not communicate by somehow participating in the mean, but each of them wholly and integrally possesses it.*

This all, then, would suggest that the natural, acquired virtues are one, so that "whoever has one virtue has all," and the demands of one virtue requires that the others all be present.  Philip the Chancellor makes the argument from justice, showing how justice requires also prudence, fortitude, and temperance to operate, and "the same argument," he stats, "can be made for the other virtues."

Drawing from Aristotle, Philip the Chancellor also proposes the following argument in support of the unity of the virtues.  In his Nicomachean Ethics (1105a9), Aristotle observes that "virtue is the ultimate end of a potency for something."  This suggests that "a virtue of the rational soul can be defined in terms of its ultimate end."  If, ultimately, the end defines virtue, then it would seem that they all become unified by the common end.

Again turning to Aristotle, this time his De caelo, Philip starts from an alternative Aristotelian definition of virtue.  Using Aristotle's alternative definition, "virtue is the disposition of a perfected [subject] in relation to its optimum state."  (281a14-15)  As an example, Aristotle compares imperfect circles with the "greatest circle" which is the standard or optimum circle.  Just like a defect in the drawing of any circle ruins the entire circle, so does the failure of goodness in any manner ruin the goodness of the entire act.  "The consequence is that goodness in h rational soul will b a virtue only when there is goodness in every act."

One final argument for the unity of the virtues is advanced by Philip the Chancellor.  The soul, he observes, is a simple essence.  In a simple essence, contraries cannot exist.  Good or bad, "absent any further determination," that is in their most general sense, "are contraries."  If that is so, then it is apparent that thy cannot exist in the soul at the same time.  This suggests that the soul is either virtuous entirely, or not virtuous entirely, and therefore that there is a unity in the virtues.

*De cons., 1.8.9-11; 3:404-6.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Cardinal Virtues as Acquired

IN THE FOURTH QUESTION DEALING WITH virtues in Philip the Chancellor's Summa de bono, we confront the question of whether the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance are infused or not infused but instead acquired (or "political").  If infused, then Philip asks whether they might be called divine virtues.

In answering this question, Philip the Chancellor distinguishes between justice and the other three virtues.  With respect to those virtues other than justice, Philip the Chancellor does not see these three of the four cardinal virtues as "divine."  The reason for this position is that the description "divine" does not make reference to "the principle 'from which' something comes," but rather "to the term 'to which' something leads."  In other words, "divine" as used in reference to virtue, speaks of the terminus ad quem, and not the terminus a quo.

"Since these cardinal virtues [of prudence, temperance, and fortitude] concern what leads up to our end (ad finem), but not into our end (in finem), namely God, they should not be called divine."  In short, Philip the Chancellor appears to take the position that these three cardinal virtues are acquired, or human, virtues, and not infused.*  (Houser, 50).

Justice surrounded by the other virtues, by Domenico Beccafumi

Justice, however, is different.  "Justice . . . which  orders things to our end holds a middle place [between the three other cardinal virtues and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity] and therefore can be called both human and divine, since it orders things to our end."

Another question that Philip addresses is this: if the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity--which are directly and intrinsically related to our end, the finis ultimus, God, then why aren't these three virtues called "cardinal," since it would appear that these three theological or divine virtues are the hinges upon which    our destiny depends.

However, Philip responds to this last issue by observing that the virtues that are called cardinal are called cardinal not in relation to the theological virtues, but rather in relation to virtues other than the theological.

*This takes Philip out of what would become the majority or at least the Thomistic view, and that is that these virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance are of two kinds: acquired (or human or political) and, in the Christian, also infused.  There are then acquired cardinal virtues which are available to all men, and, in the baptized, infused cardinal virtues.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Cardinal Virtues--Why Four?

IN HIS THIRD QUESTION dealing with the virtues in his Summa de bono, Philip the Chancellor asks the question why the four virtues identified as prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice--and not "other virtues" with "their own proper acts different from the acts of these virtues"--are called cardinal.

Philip offers three reasons why the four virtues are called cardinal virtues.  The first reason is "taken from their conditions, the second from the meaning of the term, and the third from their acts."

The four virtues of prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice are called cardinal from their conditions.  Drawing on St. Bernard's book On Consideration to Pope Eugenius (De Consideratione ad Eugenium Papam Libri V), Philip states the following:

For the existence (esse) of virtue four things are required: to now, to will, to persevere amid difficulties, and to attain the mean between excess and deficiency. But to now comes from prudence, to will from justice, to persevere from courage, and to attain the mean between excess and deficiency from temperance. Therefore, since some universal condition is touched upon there in each of these [virtues], they are rightly called cardinal, that is principal.

But, Philip notes, this argument of St. Bernard seems to prove too much since these conditions are present in all virtues (and not only the cardinal virtues), and this supported by Aristotle in his Ethics (2.4 [1105a31 ff]).  In response, however, Philip notes that this characteristic in the other virtues is shared with the cardinal virtues because the other virtues are in fact "reduced" to the cardinal virtues, "either as their parts or as their species or as their dispositions," and so these characteristics will be shared with the cardinal virtues of which these other virtues stem from.  All other virtues are subsidiary to the cardinal virtues, as the cardinal virtues are the "principal or initiating virtues."  Drawing from On Rest for the Mind by a certain unidentified Harold, the cardinal virtues (which are required for the health of the soul) are compared to the needs of the body, and that author concludes: "As there are four element for the health of the body, so are found four bases for the virtues of the soul."

The second reason why the identified virtues are called cardinal stems from the meaning of the term cardinal. As Philip summarizes this reason:

For cardinal comes from cardo, the hinge on which a door turns. Now there are two things by means of which we enter into life: actions and passions. What is said in Matt. 19:17 concerns actions: "If you would enter life, keep the commandments," that is, act according to the commandments; and Acts 14:22 concerns passions: "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Two virtues are taken based on actions: prudence with regard to actions as they concern us, justice with regard to actions as they concern our neighbor. Tow other virtues are taken based on passions, concerning passions in us and natural to us is temperance, concerning passions introduced by others is courage.
The reason why there are four cardinal virtues "comes from their acts," Philip says.  Again, we might simply quote Philip's treatment of this entire:

The acts of these virtues are principal because they are acts of the three primary motive powers in relation to those things which lead to our end (ad finem). For the act of reasoning is to distinguish between the good which leads to that end and the bad which leads away from that end, or between two goods, to distinguish which of them leads more to the end, or two bad things, which of them leads more away from that end. Also, the principal act of the power of desire in relation to those things which lead to our end is to will the changeable good to exist under the highest good, which pertains to temperance. Also the principal act of the power of emotion in relation to those things which lead to our end is to confront the arduous, which is frightening to confront and difficult to withstand, and this pertains to courage. But the act of justice is to order all these to our proximate end and this is an act in relation to all the powers, not just one. Therefore, for this reason they are called cardinal or principal, because they are the primary acts of the powers acting in those things which lead to our end, namely, God.

Philip the Chancellor interposes an objection to naming the four virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice the cardinal virtues.  Since pride is the primary vice (as Ecclesiastes 10:15 states, "Pride is the beginning of all sin") it would seem that humility is the primary virtue, and therefore there is but one cardinal virtue, and that is humility.

In answering this objection, Philip distinguishes between pride as a love of one's own excellence and pride as one's own good.  The former is a power of the emotions and is not the beginning of sin; consequently, the humility opposed to it will not be a principal virtue.  The latter, however, is the beginning of all sin since it is equivalent to contempt for the commandments.  Therefore the love of one's self as one's own good is the source of all sin.  Similarly, the love of the highest good (the summum bonum, God) is the beginning of every cardinal virtue.  It seems, then, that Philip suggests that the cardinal virtues are all clothed with humility since both humility and the cardinal virtues have love of God in view.  Humility and the cardinal virtues therefore have God as their final cause.

That humility and the four cardinal virtues have God as their final cause would seem to lead to another problem since that would make the cardinal virtues enter into the bailiwick of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, which also have God as their end.  But as Philip will later distinguish, the cardinal virtues "concern what leads up to our end, but not into our end, namely God."  It is the theological virtues which take us all the way "into" God and heaven, whereas the cardinal virtues only "carry us along the road (via) toward God," though "they do have God in sight."  Houser, 49.

Having God as the cardinal virtues' end, then raises another question: that being whether the cardinal virtues are acquired or infused.  If acquired, it seems that perhaps God is something attained through human effort, which seems to suggest a Pelagianism.  If infused, the cardinal virtues then seem to be synonymous with the divine or theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.  Accordingly, Philip the Chancellor focuses on the distinctions between the cardinal virtues and he theological virtues and their quality of being infused rather than acquired.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Ordering the Virtues

WHAT IS THE ORDER BETWEEN the various virtues? Is there any virtue that is preeminent? Is there any hierarchy that orders them? How do they interrelate? These are the subjects of the second question on the virtues in the Summa de bono of Philip the Chancellor.

Once again, before giving his answer, Philip the Chancellor reviews some authorities regarding this for possible answers.  He notes that scriptural glosses on the second chapter of Genesis and on 15:38 of the Gospel of Matthew [Gloss. margin. 5:271B] provide that prudence is first, then temperance, then courage, and finally justice.  Drawing on a cryptic numerology, for example, the gloss on the Gospel of Matthew (which addresses the miracle of Jesus and states that "those who ate were 4,000 men," meant by that number "the four virtues [each presumably being given the figure of 1,000] by which one lives correctly, prudence, temperance, courage, justice."  That same mysterious reference is found in the four rivers of Genesis.*

A different ordering of the virtues is given by St. Augustine in his book on the On the Customs of the Catholic Church.**  This order is followed by Isaac of Stella in his book On the Spirit and Soul.  Therein, temperance is first, then courage, followed by justice and prudence.

Looking for guidance to the book of Wisdom (8:7), we find temperance listed first, then followed by prudence, justice, and courage.

In his Ethics, Philip the Chancellor notes, Aristotle appears to list courage first, then chastity (temperance), then prudence, then justice.***  Cicero in his De Officiis lists prudence first, then justice, then temperance, and finally courage.†

With all this controverting authority, Philip the Chancellor offers his own answer.  To order the virtues, he finds that there is an underlying order "based on worth," a worth that is determined by reference to the powers of the rational soul.  Those powers that relate to the rational soul have more dignity than those that relate to the powers of desire and emotion which we share with the brute animals.  Viewed in this way, "prudence and justice, since they exist in the rational power, are prior by reason and the worth of their subject."  Between prudence and justice, prudence may be said to precede.  The reason for this, Philip states, is that prudence looks at the the good of the subject, whereas justice looks at the good of others. Yet there is a competing principle that also orders the virtues.  Those virtues that deal with the subject (the actor) have more dignity than those that relate to others.  From this perspective, prudence and temperance are more importance than courage and justice because they involve acts that relate to the subject while courage and justice relate to others.  Between courage and justice, justice might be said to follow courage because "the other powers and their acts are like materials in relations to it."  It appears, then, that Philip the Chancellor's opinion is that prudence is first, followed by temperance, followed by courage or fortitude, and finally, justice.

So we may summarize the various orders as follows:

Glossesprudence, temperance, courage, justice
St. Augustinetemperance, courage, justice, prudence
Wisdom 8:7temperance, prudence, justice, courage
Aristotlecourage, temperance, prudence, justice
Ciceroprudence, justice, temperance, courage
Philip the Chancellorprudence, temperance, courage, justice

Philip the Chancellor, then, seems to deviate from St. Augustine, Wisdom, Aristotle, and Cicero, and align himself with the Glosses, in adopting the prudence, temperance, courage, and justice ordering.

Philip the Chancellor justifies his deviation from St. Augustine by observing that St. Augustine views the virtues from the perspective of the pursuit of happiness, "the highest good," namely God.  The ordering he gives the virtues is based upon "their motive cause," "their end," or what is the same thing, "their motive cause."  Ultimately, love is what orders his virtues between themselves.  Since desire or love is St. Augustine's perspective, that virtue that orders desire--temperance--is first.  Courage must follow because the affective emotions relate to desire, which is the principle of love.  Love is only said to be in the power of reason in a "secondary way," and for that reason, the rational virtues of prudence and justice follow those relating to desire.  Since prudence is the most cognitive virtue, and that last tied to the "motive part of the soul," it follows that it should be ordered last when viewed from the order of love or desire, which is what St. Augustine does.

The ordering found in Wisdom is based upon the view that a sober soul (i.e., sobriety) is required for there to be a prudence soul (i.e., prudence).  The Scriptural view, according to Philip is reflected in Daniel 1:16-17, where the abstinence of youth is a precursor to the wisdom or prudence of the elderly.  Temperance, then, must precede prudence.  The reason why justice follows prudence in the Scriptural ordering is that "since it is the function of justice to render to each what is his, one first has to know what is his."  Courage is last because "justice concerns action in relation to neighbor, while courage concerns passions, and action is prior to passion."

Philip justifies his departure from Aristotle's ordering because Aristotle's ordering is based upon a precedence to be given to communal virtues before personal virtues.  Aristotle views courage as a civil or common virtue, and therefore puts it before chastity or temperance which is an individual virtue.  Prudence is placed before justice because it is a prerequisite to the communal virtue of justice.  Aristotle viewed that it was the "function of prudence to now what belongs to each, and the function of justice to render it so"  "The act of discerning what belongs to each," which is a task of prudence, "is prior to rendering to each his own."

Finally, Philip explains his departure from Cicero by observing that the Ciceronian order places prudence before justice (and those two before the other virtues) "because each is in the reasoning power."  Between justice and prudence, prudence takes precedence in Cicero's view "because [prudence] concerns us, while justice concerns the other.  Prudence is the reasoning power principally, and prudence knows what belongs to whom, which is the function of justice."  Temperance is placed before courage by Cicero "because temperance concerns good we should make use of, while courage concerns evils we should withstand."

*See Philip the Chancellor: Virtues, How are They Four?
**As discussed in prior postings, this work was erroneously attributed to St. Augustine.
***Nic. Eth. 3.9, 13, 5.1, 6.5.
De off., 1.6-42, nn. 18-151.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Different Perspectives of Virtue

PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR is not content with the description of virtues as a sort of reasoned love or loving reason, an insight obtained by synthesizing Isaac of Stella and St. Augustine's observations on virtues. He also looks at the virtues from other perspectives in distinguishing the cardinal virtues from each other.

A distinction among the virtues can also be made by invoking the "three-fold law," the law of reason which leads to free choice, the law of "indigent" or unaided nature, and the "natural law of reason."  The distinctions Philip the Chancellor makes in his "three-fold law" is between utilitarian, experiential, and relational.

"The law of reason is found in choosing what is useful," says Philip the Chancellor.  It there is concerned with prudence.  "The law of indigent nature is found in making use of good and evil."  The use of temporal goods to sustain natural life brings in the virtue of temperance.  Our confrontation with bad temporal goods, whether "for experience or to cure ourselves," will require the virtue of courage.  Finally, the "natural law of reason," which concerns itself with distributing goods between ourselves and "our neighbor who is our confederate by nature," a law which invokes the Golden rule,* involves the virtue of justice.  Again, we find confirmation in the writings of St. Augustine (De spiritu et anima, c. 20): "Prudence is found in choice, temperance in use, courage in endurance, and justice in distribution."**

The Cardinal Virtues, Fresco by Cherubino Alberti

An alternative way of distinguishing among the cardinal virtues is based on "principle and end," and this can be done because "every human virtue perfects the soul, either in its actions or passions."  With respect to actions which have an end in vie, these can be viewed the perspective of self (in which case prudence is involved) or from the perspective of others (in which case justice is involved).  When we look at passions, as distinguished from actions, then we confront those passions which come from us (and the control of these is handled by the virtue of temperance) or that which covers from others (which involves the virtue of courage).   It is the control of the passions which is based upon the principle of action.

Yet another basis for distinguishing among the four cardinal virtues is to look at their opposite: vice.  "The soul has four virtues," Philip says, "by which it is armed against vice and instructed bout its operations."

In its operations, [the soul] is instructed either in relation to us, and then we have prudence, or in relation to neighbor, and then we have justice. And it is armed against vice, either in regard to prosperity, and then we have temperance, or in regard to adversity, and then we have courage.

Summa de bono, 2: 744-56 (Q. 1, resp.)  Philip elaborates: virtue is perfection of the soul based upon reason, and that perfection arises "either in relation to neighbor or for some other reason."  If the perfection arises for some other reason, "it will concern the rational motive power or the motive power of desire or the motive power of emotion."  Prudence is concerned with the rational motive power, temperance with the motive power of desire, and courage with the motive power of emotion.  If perfection is looked at from the perspective of relations with one's neighbor, then one needs the virtue of justice.***

The distinctions between the cardinal virtues may also be looked at from the perspective of possibility.***

The function of prudence is to now what is possible, that of courage is to do what is possible, that of temperance is not to presume to do what is not possible, and that of justice is to will has is possible. Now this division is based on what is necessary for virtue, namely, to know, which requires prudence, to will, which requires justice, to do, which requires courage, and the mode of acting which requires temperance.

Summa de bono, 2: 744-56 (Q. 1, resp.).

Finally, again drawing on De spiritu et anima,**/*** Philip the Chancellor gives another way of identifying the distinction between the four cardinal virtues.  This way looks at the function of the virtue and focuses on "interior appetite, exterior deed, order to our end, and not letting stand an impediment on the way to our end."  With this quadripartite division, one can divide the virtues into four.  "The function of prudence," then, "is to desire nothing regretful, that of courage is to fear nothing but what is based, that of temperance is to repress earthly desires and completely to forget them, and that justice is to direct every motion in the soul to God alone."  "Consequently," Philip summarizes, "the function of prudence is to rule the beginning we desire, that of temperance is to rule over the means which is the deed, that of courage is to remove impediments, and that of justice is to order us to our end."  Summa de bono, 2: 744-56 (Q. 1, resp.).

Next in his treatment of the cardinal virtues, Philip the Chancellor asks about the ordering among and between the virtues, a matter he handles in Question 2 of this treatment on the virtues in his Summa de bono.  We shall address his thinking on this matter in our next few postings.

*Philip the Chancellor cites to both negative and affirmative versions of the rule by quoting Tobit 4:16 ("Do to no one what you would not want done to you") and Matt. 7:12 and Luke 6:31 ("And as you wish that  men would do to you, do so to them.")
**This is a text wrongly attributed to St. Augustine.
***As authority for this view, Philip draws from chapter 20 of the pseudo-Augustinian text of De spiritu et anima.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Virtues as Reasoned Love

WHEN PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR asked himself the question in Q. 1 of his treatment of the cardinal virtues in the Summa de bono why the virtues are four in number, he identified the principal explanation: namely that the related to the acts of the soul (which are four: act of desire or concupiscence  act of emotion or irascibility, the act of distinguishing good and bad towards ourselves, and the act of distinguishing good and bad as it relates to others), and not the powers of the soul (which are three: reason, desire, emotion).

Philip also noted that the cardinal virtues are related to temporal affairs, things we use; the theological virtues are related to eternal affairs, namely God, and are therefore things we enjoy.  Thus, Philip distinguishes between the uti and the frui, the use and the enjoyment.  Quoting St. Augustine, Philip observes that "all perverse human order consists in either enjoying what should be used and using what should be enjoyed; correct order, however, consists in enjoying what should be enjoyed and using what should be used."*

Philip also relied upon authority to buttress his conclusion that the cardinal virtues were four in number based upon the four human acts. These also gave him additional reasons to regard the cardinal virtues as four.  We will briefly look at these.

First, Philip noted that, in regard to temporal goods which are used, there is temporal good and temporal evil. He further subdivided temporal good into two and temporal evil into two.  Temporal goods are either apparent goods, "and in this respect deceptive," or they are excessive goods, "and in this way corruptive."  Those apparent temporal goods which deceive are avoided by the virtue of prudence.  The excessive goods which corrupt us are avoided by temperance.

Anonymous, Design for Four Virtues 

Something similar can be done with temporal evils, which are either adverse or perverse.  Perverse evil is called the "evil of guilt."  Adverse evil is called the "evil of pain."  Perverse evil perverts the soul, destroying its beauty, and rendering it ugly.  Its contrary is the virtue of justice, as justice "introduces order in the would, which is beauty in the soul."  Adverse evil, the evil which causes pain, saddens the soul.  To overcome sadness of soul, we need the virtue of courage which allows us to endure it for the sake of love.  He quotes St. Augustine: "Courage is love easily enduring everything for the sake of what is loved."**

Second, Philip relied on Isaac of Stella and his book On Spirit and Soul.  This book, Philip notes, follows St. Augustine.  In his book, Isaac of Stella identifies the three powers of the soul: reason (from which arises sensibility) and the affectations which arise from the power of desire (concupiscence) or the power of emotion (irascibility).   There are four affections in man, depending upon whether (i) we presently enjoy or (ii) hope in the future to enjoy something, or whether (iii) we presently suffer something we hate or (iv) fear that we will suffer something in the future we will hate.  The present enjoyment of something we love is called joy.  The anticipation of a future enjoyment of something we love is what gives rise to hope.  The present suffering of something we do not like is called sorrow.  The future anticipation of having to suffer something we do not like gives rise to fear.

These four elements: joy, hope, sorrow, fear "are like the elements and common materials for all the vices and virtues."  "Since virtue is a habit in a mind which has been correctly instructed," Philip observes, it follows that these four elements "should be instructed and combined and ordered by reason for the sake of that which is right and in the right manner, so that they can produce virtues."  If they are not so rightly ordered, these four elements can "easily sink into vices."  Quoting Isaac of Stella, Philip the Chancellor concludes: "Therefore, when love and hate are instructed prudently, modestly, bravely, and justly, they grow in to the virtues of prudence, temperance, courage, and justice which are said to be like roots or hinges (cardines) for all the virtues."

The reason-based teaching of Isaac of Stella on virtues in his On Spirit and Soul therefore dovetails nicely with St. Augustine's love-based teaching on the virtues in his book On the Customs of the Catholic Church.  There, St. Augustine encapsulates his teaching on the virtues succinctly: "that which is called four-fold virtue is formed from various affections of love . . . so that temperance is love giving itself wholly and incorruptibly to God, courage is love readily enduring all things for God, justice is love serving the beloved alone and for this reason rightly ruling all its subjects, and prudence is love rightly distinguishing what helps us get to God from those things which impeded us from him."***

Wrapping the notions of Isaac of Stella's ordering of reason into virtue with St. Augustine's notion of ordering in love into virtue, Philip the Chancellor synthesizes the insights of both into an understanding of the cardinal virtues that is more complete and merits quotation in full:

There is either good which we desire or evil which we hate (hate is used rather than detest, for hate belongs to the power of desire, as does love, while detesting belongs to the emotions.) If something is good, either it is present, and then we feel joy about it, or it is not present but expected, and then we feel hope about it. Or the thing is bad, and then if present we feel sorrow about it, and if not present we feel fear. Now these sorts of affections, that is, those belonging to desire or emotion, should be ruled by reason, and then they are worthy of praise. Otherwise, if they are disordered, they are contemptible; and this is why the affection puts its name on the deed, whether for good or evil. Now love, when ordered, mounts up to virtue; for when ordered, it loves what should be loved and how it should be loved. Therefore, it loves prudently, so that no appearances of seeming good deceives it. And this is why Augustine says: "Prudence is love wisely preferring what aids, etc." as was said above. It loves sweetly and pleasantly, so that it is not abducted from its delight by anything illicit, and this is what Augustine says: "Temperance is love giving itself wholly to what is loved." It loves resolutely, so that it is not averted from the beloved by any adversity, and this is also what Augustine says: "Courage is love readily enduring everything for what is loved." And love is for the sake of the right end, and this too is what Augustine says: "Justice is love serving the beloved alone, and ruling rightly for the sake of the beloved."

So virtues, then, may be said to be reason-based and love-based, and they are the possession of a man who is governed by reason and governed by love.
*Omnis itaque humana perversio est, quod etiam vitium vocatur, fruendis uti velle atque utendis frui; et rursus omnis ordinatio, quae virtus etiam nominatur, fruendis frui et utendis uti.   De div. quaest. lxxxiii, 30.
**[F]ortitudo amor facile tolerans omnia propter quod amatur. De mor. ecc., 1:15.
***As Houser notes, this is an "extremely free rendering of Augustine's De mor. ecc., 2.15. "Quod si virtus ad beatam vitam nos ducit, nihil omnino esse virtutem affirmaverim nisi summum amorem Dei. Namque illud quod quadripartita dicitur virtus, ex ipsius amoris vario quodam affectu . . . ut temperantia sit amor integrum se praebens ei quod amatur, fortitudo amor facile tolerans omnia propter quod amatur, iustitia amor soli amato serviens et propterea recte dominans, prudentia amor ea quibus adiuvatur ab eis quibus impeditur sagaciter seligens. . . . Quare definire etiam sic licet, ut temperantiam dicamus esse amorem Deo sese integrum incorruptumque servantem, fortitudinem amorem omnia propter Deum facile perferentem, iustitiam amorem Deo tantum servientem et ob hoc bene imperantem ceteris quae homini subiecta sunt, prudentiam amorem bene discernentem ea quibus adiuvetur in Deum ab his quibus impediri potest.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Virtues, How Are There Four?

PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR explores the four cardinal virtues in his Summa de bono. The first questions he asks regarding the virtues regards to their division and their number.  Philip defines virtue as "a perfection of the rational soul based on its powers," and so posits the possibility that the virtues might be identified by the powers in the soul so that for each power there is a corresponding virtue.

From the Mosaics at Qasr Libya

However, for Philip shared the Augustinian opinion that the soul had only three powers: reason, emotion, and desire (rationabilitas, irascibilitas, and concupiscibilitas).  This made the one-on-one correlation between  the powers of the soul and the virtues impossible, at least if the cardinal virtues were to be maintained at four.    While the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity might be neatly fitted to the tripartite powers of the soul, the relationship between the powers of the soul and the four cardinal virtues was not so neat.

Philip explored the possibility that one might assign one cardinal virtue to one particular power, and then reserve the fourth cardinal virtue, justice, which might be applied to "all the powers" of the soul.  Drawing on a gloss derived from Augustine's commentary on Genesis against the Manichees regarding Genesis 2:10-14, Philip suggested that the relationship among the virtues was like the relationship between the four rivers  in Genesis: the Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates:

The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom he had formed.  Out of the ground the LORD God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  A river rises in Eden to water the garden; beyond there it divides and becomes four branches.  The name of the first is the Pishon; it is the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; bdellium and lapis lazuli are also there. The name of the second river is the Gihon; it is the one that winds all through the land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it is the one that flows east of Asshur. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Gen. 2:10-14.  The rivers Pishon, Gihon, and Tigris are all given further descriptions in Genesis, lands about which they circle.  The fourth river, the Euphrates, is not.  The Euphrates is "not assigned a land it circles," and so, the virtues of prudence, courage or fortitude, and temperance had lands about which they circle, yet justice, like the Euphrates, pertains to all the powers of the soul.  Augustine's gloss on this passage suggests this as a plausible solution.

Justice pertains to all the parts of the soul, because it is the order and equity in the soul, through which are united the other virtues: prudence, temperance, and courage. For one is just in so far as his soul is prudent in contemplating truth, temperate in restraining desires, and brave in withstanding adversity.

Q.1, obj. 3.

While the suggestion of St. Augustine that assigned justice an overarching role seemed plausible, it seemed that if an overarching principle was needed in the case of the cardinal virtues, there should be an overarching principle in the case of the theological virtues.

Moreover, if St. Augustine's principle is taken as true, then it would appear to be equally applicable to the theological virtues, so that one is just in so far as one believes in God (by faith), hopes in God (by hope), and loves God (through charity).  Is justice then an overarching theological virtue?  "For just as the fourth virtue, which puts order into the three human virtues, is a human virtue, so likewise what put order into the three theological virtues must be a theological virtues, which makes four theological virtues."  Q.1, obj. 4.

Drawing from various works of Aristotle,* Philip also noted that all motion of the soul may divided into three ways depending upon what it seeks: its own sake, removing an evil, or adding a good.  The first is good simpliciter.  The second is not enjoyable as it is chooses an "expedient evil."  The third is enjoyable as it is  chooses an "expedient good."   There are thee types of objects, the good, what accompanies, and the enjoyable, and three pleasures, and there are three powers--reason, desire, and emotion.  It follows that there are three virtues only: prudence for the reasoning part, which concerns the good; courage in the emotions, which withstands evil; and temperance for the desires, which relates to enjoyment.

However, tradition did not provide for four theological virtues, but only three.

So the solution sought by Philip shifted its focus by applying the Aristotelian distinction between matter and for.  Matter could be considered as power, and the form as act.  If the powers of the soul is the matter upon which virtue acts, then its form should be manifested by a sort of act. By focusing on the acts of the soul, rather than the powers of the soul, a solution presented itself.   His resolution is found in his reply to the first objection:

The number of virtues is not taken from the number of the powers [in the soul] but from their principal acts. Since the virtues are perfections of the powers, their perfections are compared to their acts. Therefore, temperance is based on an act of desires (concupiscibilis) as it is subject to the order of reason, that is, to restrain our cupidities. Courage is based on the act of the emotions (irascibilis) which has been ordered, that is, to confront what produces fear. Both prudence and justice are based upon acts of reason, because prudence is taken from the act of distinguishing good from bad, which is an absolute act concerning ourselves, while justice, which orders us in relation to neighbor through rendering what is sue to him, is based on act of reason, namely ordering, which concerns others.

Q.1, rep. obj. 1.  So to summarize Philip's solution: temperance relates to the ordering of an act of concupiscible desire, courage or fortitude relates to ordering an act of the irascible emotion, prudence relates to ordering an act of reason as it relates to oneself, and justice relates to the ordering of an act of reason as it relates to others.

*Aristotle's On the Soul, Sophistical Refutations, and Topics.