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 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.

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