The Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance / Edition 1

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Richard J. Regan's new translation of texts from Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica II–II--on the virtues prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance--combines accuracy with an accessibility unmatched by previous presentations of these texts. While remaining true to Aquinas' Latin and preserving a question-and-answer format, the translation judiciously omits references and citations unessential to the primary argument. It thereby clears a path through the original especially suitable for beginning students of Aquinas. Regan's Introduction carefully situates Aquinas' analysis of these virtues within the greater ethical system of the Summa Theologica, and each selection is introduced by a thoughtful headnote. A glossary of key terms and a select bibliography are also included.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Thomas Aquinas is still known in ethics primarily as the quintessential theorist of natural law—this despite the fact that his writings on that subject are quite meager in comparison to his exhaustive and masterly treatments of the virtues. The result of Richard Regan's labors is an introduction to Thomas' moral philosophy that is much more indicative of Thomas' rich reflections on the moral life than is available from the study of his natural law writings alone, making accessible Thomas' insights into the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, courage, and temperance. --Douglas Kries, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Gonzaga University

There are perils here for a clumsy editor. Some of the material inviting excision is comparatively ephemeral but some is so integral to the work that its exclusion would leave us with a seriously distorted patchwork with few clues as to the overall world-view of the author. There is also a good deal of material that is contrary to contemporary culture and which timidity would suggest be excised. But Regan's editorial hand is deft. If mortal and venial sin, salvation, the value of consecrated virginity, the immorality of taking interest on a loan are unpalatable to the modern reader, he does not see that as any reason for excluding them. We find startling the prohibition of lying to the enemy in time of war, and the observation that it is permissible to resist an unjust death sentence 'except perhaps, in order to avoid scandal, when resistance might risk a serious public disturbance' (86). This is just one example of the profoundly counter-cultural weighting of the community over the individual in the Natural Law tradition (This is very briefly but effectively flagged by Regan in his Introduction). The extent of the condensation [in Regan's edition] is considerable. . . . Surely he must have left out something of value? I searched for unfortunate omissions. Did he include the distinction between virtue and skill (in terms of intentional failure)? Yes. Does the thesis of the unity of the virtues survive? Yes again. Is the possibility of prudence in sinners included? Yes it is, and the search for omissions begins to seem a waste of time. . . . I would judge the translation to be a fine effort. --Brian Scarlett, The Medieval Review

Richard J. Regan's translation and introductory explanations are highly readable and very accessible to the average student. There is a wealth of material contained in this small volume. It could serve not only as a useful text in an ethics course, but also as a convenient initiation to Aquinas' thought and method. --Rev. Gerald E. Twaddell, Department of Philosophy, Thomas More College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872207455
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/30/2005
  • Series: Hackett Classics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,172,211
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard J. Regan is a Research Professor of Political Science, Fordham University.

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Table of Contents

1 Prudence 1
2 Justice 30
3 Fortitude 106
4 Temperance 119
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