Aquinas on Emotion's Participation in Reason

Aquinas on Emotion's Participation in Reason

by Nicholas Kahm


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Aquinas on Emotion's Participation in Reason aims to present Aquinas's answer to the perennial and now popular question: In what way can the emotions be rational? For Aquinas, the starting point of this inquiry is Aristotle's claim (EN. I. 13) that there are three parts to the soul: 1) the rational part, 2) the non-rational part which can participate in reason, and 3) the non-rational part that does not participate in reason. It is the extent to which the second part (the sense appetites, the seat of the emotions) participates in reason that the emotions can become rational. However, immediately after Aristotle introduces his tripartite division of the soul, he warns that one need not delve into the details of the division or the participation. Aquinas, however, ignores Aristotle, and uses his precise metaphysics of participation within in his sophisticated anthropology to great effect in his ethics. Unlike Aristotle, to fully understand Aquinas's thinking on how the emotions can become rational, we simply must delve into the kinds of precisions that Aristotle thinks are misplaced. When Aquinas's views emerge from these precisions, he has a surprisingly level-headed and commonsense view of how the emotions can become rational. On this point, he is more pessimistic than Aristotle and more optimistic than Kant; he is certainly not, as is he is often thought to be, the faithful follower of Aristotle and the polar opposite of Kant. Nicholas Kahm argue that Aquinas has a realistic and plausible view of how far reason can go in shaping our emotions. Furthermore, his plausible views can accommodate the serious current challenge raised against virtue ethics from social psychology. The method has mainly been a careful reading of primary texts, but unlike the rest of the scholarship on Aquinas's ethics, Kahm is particularly sensitive to Aquinas's historical and philosophical development.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813231570
Publisher: The Catholic University of America Press
Publication date: 01/09/2019
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Nicholas Kahm is Henry G. Fairbanks Visiting Scholar in Residence at St. Michael's College, VT.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

List Of Abbreviations xi

Introduction 1

Part I The Soul As A Potential Whole

1 Fragmentation of the Soul into Parts 19

2 The Unification of the Soul's Pares 44

3 Disorder in the Potential Whole 66

4 Order in the Potential Whole 87

Part 2 Participating In Reason

5 Participation 119

6 Powers and Passions in Aquinas's Sentences Commentary 129

7 Participation and Virtue in Aquinas's Sentences Commentary 151

8 Participation in Reason in the De veritate 166

9 Participating Parts in Late Texts 181

10 Participation and Virtue in Late Texts 202

11 Conclusion of Part 2 220

Part 3 The Plausibility Of Aquinas's Position

12 What Moral Virtue Does and Does Not Do 237

13 Kant, Aristotle, and Social Psychology 267

Selected Bibliography 297

Index 315

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