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.

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.

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