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.

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.

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