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Thomas Aquinas Essay

1924 words - 8 pages

After reading St. Thomas Aquinas’s book named “Treatise on Law”, it’s not hard to see that Aquinas believes there is a distinct bridge between the way of virtue and the command of the law. Specifically, I believe Aquinas shows this relationship in the 100th question in the ninth article. What I read was that people generally want to be virtuous and when they do not have this general “desire”, the law mandates it. This can spark quite the debate because I can find it hard to conclude that almost all human beings are born with this general want of virtue. Aquinas relates the two by naming the 3 ways of virtue. Also he lists a set of objections and answers to his objections and that is ...view middle of the document...

Not to mention some laws seem to only exist to create revenue for the state, I understand that may not have been the case when Aquinas wrote this book but it definitely begs the question on what the true intention is, but I believe it is evident that virtue is not the intent. For example, it is illegal to feed seagulls in some places. If you fed a seagull, does this take you away from being virtuous? To me it would appear a virtuous act but the law does not allow it. This could also be related to creating revenue for the state.
Aquinas’s third objection is this; the ways of virtue seems to consist of acting willingly and with pleasure, he acknowledges that this does not exactly follow that command of law, rather the divine law. However, he still says that the way of virtue falls under the command of law. This is really absurd to me because when I think of the divine law it somewhat strikes me as like a rule from god, which then instantly brings me to the list of commandments. Then the separation of virtue and common law is apparent. For example, a commandment is laid out in the bible as “rules” you should follow to lead a virtuous life and to experience heaven in the afterlife and not hell. Command laws to me, as I stated earlier are meant to protect the public so to me here, divine laws are completely separate than command laws. But if one were to take the stance that laws are created to inspire virtue then the divine law would fit into common law perfectly as Aquinas presents her in his 3rd objection.
After viewing his 3 objections I am somewhat cut in the middle, because it is clear that in some of his objections he does present a clear representation where virtue is presented in the law, but then it always seems that he goes one step to far that takes a more religious turn and to me, virtue can exist without being related to Christianity or any religion. So I am trying to keep a separation between the religion and state laws here. Our next section in question 100 in the ninth question, Aquinas addresses this idea of how laws are enforced and how virtue plays into that.
If one can act in a virtuous way, then that one has to possess a virtuous habit. Then Aquinas turns this into saying that anyone who transgresses the command of law will deserve punishment. So if one virtue falls under the law and the person did not possess this virtuous habit then no matter what they would deserve punishment. Then this leads into his saying that the commands of law have the power to compel compliance because the fear they can pose with punishment. But divine law can present the same thing but it is not visible because the actions do not have to be committed. In other words, in order for punishment to occur, it must be witnessed, but with divine law God can just hear your thought and then you will suffer the punishment that he see fit. This does seem to make sense, and it is hard to pose an argument against something that may or not...

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