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Wisdom, Law, and VirtueEssays in Thomistic Ethics$
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Lawrence Dewan

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227969

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823227969.001.0001

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Wisdom and Human Life: the Natural and the Supernatural

Wisdom and Human Life: the Natural and the Supernatural

(p.7) Chapter 1 Wisdom and Human Life: the Natural and the Supernatural
Wisdom, Law, and Virtue

Lawrence Dewan

Fordham University Press

This chapter explores the natural foundation of the moral life. In order to do so, it discusses revealed truth, in particular the doctrine of the effect on human nature of the sin of Adam. The conception we have of human nature affects in the most fundamental way what we ask of the human being. The true human being has at heart, by nature, the interests of God, the author of nature, even more than his own private good. Sound metaphysics indicates this and, indeed, constitutes a sort of indication that man as we know him is fallen. These doctrines of St. Thomas were not recalled to suggest that all one needs to do is remind people of their true nature and all will be well, but rather to stress the need for divine grace if true human nature is to be seen fully exhibited. The aim has been more one of eliminating both a certain optimism and a certain pessimism. The optimism would stem from catching sight of human dignity and thinking that nature suffices for “all to go well.” The pessimism would stem from the experience of “man's inhumanity to man” and would attempt to make do with a contractarian individualism.

Keywords:   morals, Thomas Aquinas, wisdom, goodness, revealed truth, nature

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