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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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Death in the Setting of Divine Wisdom: The Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas

Death in the Setting of Divine Wisdom: The Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas

Chapter:
(p.326) Chapter 19 Death in the Setting of Divine Wisdom: The Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas
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Wisdom, Law, and Virtue
Author(s):

Lawrence Dewan

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fso/9780823227969.003.0020

This chapter clarifies St. Thomas's doctrine that the Decalogue, including the commandment “thou shalt not kill,” has such primacy in the order of law that God himself cannot dispense anyone from obeying any of them—God himself cannot make it just that anyone act contrary to any of the Ten Commandments. This seems evident enough for those commandments having to do with man's order to God, but it is more difficult to admit when the commandment treats of the relations among human beings. To see why Thomas teaches that God cannot make exceptions even concerning the order of man to man, one must grasp the unity of justice, or the unity of eternal law (which is identical with God), the indissociability of the order of man to God, and the order of man to man. To bring out this indissociability, which pertains to the eternal establishment of fundamental human relations, the chapter begins with Thomas's presentation of God as just. It shows that the reason God cannot permit exceptions regarding “thou shalt not kill” is that the commandment belongs essentially to justice itself, and, God being justice, for him to deny this commandment would be for him to deny himself.

Keywords:   Thomas Aquinas, Decalogue, God, justice, wisdom

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