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The Thomist 63 (1999): 613-28 AQUINAS'S USE OF ULPIAN AND THE QUESTION OF PHYSICALISM REEXAMINED BENEDICT M. GUEVIN, 0.S.B. Saint Anselm College Manchester, New Hampshire SOMEMORALTHEOLOGIANS contend that there is a dichotomy between nature and reason, the physical and the personal, in the Church's teaching on sexual and social matters.1 On the one hand, it is claimed that the Church's teaching on sexuality stems from a classical view of the world and is rooted in a teleology of "nature," "biology," and the "physical," from which static realities the Church lamentably "deduces" its ethical teachings on sexuality. Her social teaching, on the other hand, takes cognizance ofthe contemporary sense ofhistorical consciousness, is based on inductive reasoning, and laudably attends to "the human person in term's ofone's multiple relationships with God, neighbor, world, and self and the call to live responsibly in the midst of these relationships."2 The conclusion is that this dichotomy between nature and biology on the one hand, and reason and the person on the other hand, has led to an unjustifiable methodological split between official Catholic sexual and social teaching-and this split is traceable, in part, to Thomas Aquinas's "slightly puzzling"3 adoption of Ulpian's "order of nature" along 1 For a good overview of this contention and a bibliography, see Richard Gula, Reason Informed l7y Faith: Foundations of Catholic Morality (New York: Paulist Press, 1989), 220-49. 2 Charles Curran, "Official Social and Sexual Teaching," in Tensions in Moral Theology (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 96. 3 Cf. Michael Crowe, "St. Thomas and Ulpian's Natural Law," in St. Thomas Aquinas 1274-1974: Commemorative Studies, ed. Armand A. Maurer, 2 vols. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1974), 282. 613 614 BENEDICT M. GUEVIN, O.S.B. with Gaius's "order of reason" in the development and formulation of his own natural-law theory. The purpose of this present study is not to overcome this dichotomy. I subscribe to Grabowski and Naughton's conclusion that the Church's teachings regarding sexual and social matters "are held together organically rather than juxtaposed inconsistently ."4 Rather, I wish to argue that those who find a "physicalism " in the Church's sexual ethics are, in fact, correct, but for reasons other than thosegenerallygiven-reasons, moreover, that restore the physical to its proper place in the Church's sexual ethics. To this end, I will examine the fact of Aquinas's adoption of Ulpian's "order of nature" in his natural-law theory (part 1) and then demonstrate how the natural order operates in his treatment of sexuality (part 2). I will conclude that, while "nature" and "biology" are fundamental to Aquinas's view of the human person, especially in the area of sexuality, neither nature nor biology in and of itself provides a physical "blueprint"5 as such for ethical behavior. For between the facts of nature and ethical behavior lie both theoretical and practical reason (part 3). I. AQUINAS AND ULPIAN It is certain that Aquinas integrates the Roman jurist Ulpian's definition of the natural law ("that which nature teaches all animals"),6 however awkwardly at times, into his own discussions of the natural law.7 What is remarkable is that in doing so he departed from most of his predecessors and would have few followers.8 To explain why he did so is, in part, the purpose of this essay. •See John S. Grabowski and Michael J. Naughton, "Catholic Social and Sexual Ethics: Inconsistent or Organic?" The Thomist 57 (1993): 555-78, esp. 556. 5 Cf. Gula, Reason, 227. 6 "jus naturale est quod natura omnia animalia docuit" (Dig. 7 For an excellent discussions of this see Crowe, "St. Thomas and Ulpian's Natural Law," and Odo Lottin, Le droit nature/ chez saint Thomas d'Aquin et ses predecesseurs (Bruges, 1931). 8 Cf. Crowe, "St. Thomas and Ulpian's Natural Law," 261. I will be following Crowe in the first section of part 1. AQUINAS'S PHYSICALISM 615 It is unlikely that Aquinas read Ulpian directly. Rather, the immediate sources for Aquinas's adoption of Ulpian's...


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