Aquinas and the Natural Habit of Synderesis: A Response to Celano

Lisa Holdsworth

About author

Lisa Holdsworth
Catholic University of America
School of Philosophy
620 Michigan Avenue 
Washington, DC 
20064 USA 

E-mail:  95holdsworth@cardinalmail.cua.edu

Abstract


Anthony Celano argues that after Thomas Aquinas the flexibility of Aristotle’s ethics gives way to the universal codes of Christian morality. His argument posits that the Schoolmen adopted a line of moral reasoning that follows a Platonic tradition of taking universal moral principles as the basis of moral reasoning. While Thomas does work in a tradition that, resemblant of the Platonic tradition, incorporates inerrant principles of moral reasoning in the habit of synderesis, his understanding of those principles is distinctly Aristotelian in character and thus the flexible moral reasoning of Aristotle’s phronimos is retained. For Thomas synderesis is the first principle of practical reason and is the source rather than the inhibitor of personal and spontaneous moral reasoning. This article will first outline Celano’s position, detail the thought of Thomas’ predecessors, and then show how Thomas employs the principle of synderesis in a distinctly Aristotelian framework.

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References


  1. T. Aquinas, Questiones Disputatae de Veritate, Questions 10–20, trans. James V. McGlynn, S.J., Henry Regnery Company, Chicago 1953. Html edition by Joseph Kenny, O.P, URL = http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdeVer.htm (14.03.2016).
  2. T. Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Benzinger Bros. edition, 1947, URL = http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/(14.03.2016).
  3. Vernon J. Bourke, “The Synderesis Rule and Right Reason,” Monist (66) 1983, p. 71–82.
  4. Anthony Celano, “The Foundation of Moral Reasoning,” Diametros (38) 2013, p. 1–61.
  5. Michael B. Crowe, “The Term Synderesis and the Scholastics,” Irish Theological Quarterly (23) 1956, p. 151–164, 228–243.
  6. Douglas Kries, “Origen, Plato, and Conscience (Synderesis) in Jerome’s Ezekiel Commentary,” Traditio (57) 2002, p. 67–83.
  7. Timothy C. Potts, Conscience in Medieval Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1980.
  8. Daniel Westberg, Right Practical Reason, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1994.

DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.47.2016.867

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/867
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/867/en

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