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Politics Aquinas - Essay Example

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Politics Aquinas

However, despite influences on Aquinas from the political climate of that time, we can perhaps find out the essence of his view on the mentioned problem that still would be relevant for our todays situation.
Thomas Aquinas lived at a pivotal period for the Western philosophy when the return of the Aristotelianism combined with scholasticism to reignite debates about the correlation between reason and faith. Aquinas became fully acquainted with this school of philosophy after he joined the Dominican Order and for several years studied with Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), a scholastic philosopher who worked on restating of the Aristotelian heritage. This acquaintance of Aquinas is considered to be the most significant influence on his world view, which turned him into an erudite scholar devoted to the Aristotelian method (McInerny, 1992, p. 16). In general, Scholastics of that time promoted empiricism and voiced support for policies and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. They stood in opposition to Christian mysticism as well as to concepts of dualism of mind and of the evil nature of the world promoted earlier by Plato and St. Augustine (McGrade, 2003, pp. 33-34).
What interests us in relation to the problem that we have raised is Aquinas' theory of natural law. To better understand this theory, it must be pointed out that Aquinas views philosophy as a general term which relates to a set of sciences. To diverse philosophical fields Aquinas ascribes the following due order for their study: logic, mathematics, natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysics, which is the apex of philosophical study. Aquinas' theory of natural law concerns moral philosophy, for which the notion of the human good is central. Aquinas sees a difference between acts of a man and human acts, as the former acts can be also seen in non-human agents, while human acts stem from knowledge and will and always aim at a known good. But Aquinas points out that as a certain good is not the same as the goodness itself, then what holds together all the human actions is what he terms as the overarching goodness which is the ultimate end. Therefore, any human action is directed towards the ultimate end (Lisska, 1998, pp. 132-133).
Now that we have uncovered the basic ground of the morality for Aquinas, we can better understand his views towards what he called the natural law. In fact, what forms the essence of the natural law moral theory is the view that morality stems from the nature of the world and of the human beings. For Aquinas, main morality-generating principle of human nature is its rationality, for instance manifested in human pursuit of a certain good, which underlies any moral law. Therefore, as humans are born rational, it is morally right to behave in correspondence with our rational nature. In this way Aquinas connects moral laws with the human nature and this connection forms the basis of the "natural law", that ...Show more

Summary

Many elements of the world view that underlies todays political institutions and democratic practices are a result of a long chain of developments in history of thought within the field of the political philosophy. In this regard, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), one of the prominent Italian thinkers of the Middle Ages during which the ground was laid for the upcoming early modern period with its upsurge in political philosophy, presents a very indicative example when an issue that constitutes one of the most hotly debated political problems nowadays was equally important for this medieval philosopher…
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