The Root of Friendship

The Root of Friendship

Anthony T. Flood
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zsw5j
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  • Book Info
    The Root of Friendship
    Book Description:

    The Root of Friendship addresses the connections between self-love and self-governance in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and defends three related theses. First, Aquinas's account of proper self-love is a description of the nature and importance of a person's subjective self- experience. Second, his notion of self-governance cannot be understood fully unless we grasp its basis in self-love. Finally, his account both satisfies contemporary conditions of relevance for self-governance and offers attractive solutions to issues raised in analytic discussions on such matters.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2606-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xx)

    This book addresses the connections between self-love and self-governance in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and defends three related theses: Aquinas’s account of proper self-love is a description of the nature and importance of a person’s subjective self-experience, his notion of self-governance cannot be understood fully unless we grasp its basis in self-love, and his account both satisfies contemporary conditions of relevance for self-governance and offers attractive solutions to issues raised in analytic discussions on such matters. Moreover, as a corollary, distortions or perversions of proper self-love undermine the possibility of sustainable self-governance. By “self-governance” and its cognates, I...

  5. 1 PROPER SELF-LOVE AND THE INNER LIFE
    (pp. 1-24)

    The most controversial claims in this book are that an account of subjectivity is central to Aquinas’s understanding of man and ethical experience and that we find this account in his characterization of self-love.¹ The following constitutes my core argument for these contentions: for Aquinas, the nature and properties of friendship derive from self-love, with the latter possessing in a structurally prior manner the form and properties of the former. Given that the experience of friendship involves the conscious experience of the beloved, including to the degree possible the fullness of his interior life, self-love must include the conscious experience...

  6. 2 THE EUDAIMONIST SELF-GOVERNANCE TRADITION
    (pp. 25-52)

    The twin theses controlling the first half of my analysis are that Aquinas’s account of proper self-love is a description of the nature and importance of a person’s subjective self-experience and that his notion of self-governance cannot be understood fully unless we grasp its basis in self-love. A corollary thesis claims that distortions or perversions of self-love undermine the possibility of sustainable self-governance. The previous chapter looked at the ways in which self-love, for Aquinas, constitutes the basis of a person’s interior life. This chapter offers an interpretation of key figures in the eudaimonist tradition that is somewhat standard but...

  7. 3 PERSONS, PROVIDENCE, AND THE NATURAL LAW
    (pp. 53-71)

    Aquinas embeds his account of self-governance within the framework of eudaimonism and appropriates many of the notions considered in the previous chapter. Moreover, his account of proper self-love motivates the need for self-governance, since a properly self-loving person seeks what is truly good for him and relating to himself as person mandates acting through himself. I will resume my analysis of Aquinas by picking up where we left off with Augustine—with God’s law. Aquinas identifies the principles that indicate what is truly good for human beings ultimately as a species of God’s eternal law. Thus, a person must submit...

  8. 4 PRUDENCE AND PRIDE
    (pp. 72-92)

    This chapter begins to connect Aquinas’s notions more explicitly with contemporary considerations concerning self-governance. I start by turning to his treatment of prudence(prudentia), as this is his most detailed analysis of the nature and structure of each person’s governance of himself. The second half sets forth what I think is the strongest argument against Aquinas having an account of self-governance that is substantively relevant to contemporary discussion: namely, his views on humility and pride, which involves the goodness of subjection to the will of another and the evil of complete independence of action. This chapter concludes with the first...

  9. 5 AQUINAS AND CONTEMPORARY CRITERIA FOR SELF-GOVERNANCE
    (pp. 93-113)

    Throughout this book, I maintain that for an account of self-governance to be readily applicable to contemporary discussion on the matter, it should contain and address some basic elements. The first set of elements is the psychological conditions requisite for governing oneself: the epistemic and motivational capacities. The epistemic abilities pertain to a person’s possession of sufficient moral knowledge for self-direction. The motivational considerations relate to a person’s ability to bring himself to perform an action largely from internal motivational sources versus coercive threats of punishment or promises of reward. The second element is a person’s right or proper moral...

  10. 6 AQUINAS IN DIALOGUE WITH CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS
    (pp. 114-138)

    Schneewind gives the following synopsis of his motive for writingThe Invention of Autonomy:

    I planned from the beginning to make Kant the focal point of this study because I thought, as I still do, that his conception of morality as autonomy provides a better place to start working out a contemporary philosophical understanding than anything we can get from other past philosophers.¹

    Given Kant’s robust influence on debates concerning the nature of autonomy in the last two centuries, Schneewind is clearly not alone in his admiration of Kant’s thought. However, due to various deficiencies perceived in the Kantian understanding...

  11. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 139-144)

    The goal of the foregoing inquiries, explanations, and arguments has been to establish three interconnected theses: Aquinas’s account of proper self-love is a description of the nature and importance of a person’s subjective self-experience, his notion of self-governance cannot be understood fully unless we grasp its basis in self-love, and his account both satisfies contemporary conditions of relevance for self-governance and offers attractive solutions to issues raised in analytic discussions on such matters. I conclude with a summary both of the threads of the analysis and how they tie together to establish the theses above.

    My primary focus has been...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 145-154)
  13. Index
    (pp. 155-164)