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THE VIRTUES OF MAN THE ANIMAL SOCIALE: AFFABILITAS AND VERITAS IN AQUINAS 1 KEVIN WHITE Catholic University of America Washington, D.C. XSTOTLE'S definition of man as the 'qlov '1ToAmKov 2the city-dwelling animal-undergoes an interesting transformation in the scholastic Latin of St. Thomas Aquinas : while the epithet of the definition occasionally appears in Aquinas's writings as transliterated, in animal politicum, or as thoroughly domesticated, in William of Moerbeke's translation animal civile, his preferred version of the Aristotelian formula is animal sociale, though he sometimes says politicum et sociale, politicum vel sociale and sociale et politicum.8 For these uses of the term sociale, Aquinas is indebted not only to earlier writers of Latin but also to the genius of the language itself, whose words sociale and societas seem to have no equivalent in Aristotle's Greek. Less formal and explicit than the polis or civitas, what is meant by societas is rather the pervasive and mostly unacknowledged element within which cities are founded and continue, and which consists in the specifically human way of being together or, as Heidegger says, Mitsein. It is easy to discern in Aquinas's opposition between politicum and sociale the ancestor of our own commonplace and sharp contrast between " politics " and " so1 This paper was read in Buenos Aires on September 14, 1991, as a contribution to the sixteenth annual Semana Tomista of the Sociedad Tomista Argentina. 2 Politics I, 1, 1153a2-3. a For a survey of texts, see Edgar Scully, "The Place of the State in Society According to St. Thomas Aquinas," The Thomist 45 (1981): 407-429. The present discussion may be regarded as a gloss on the theme of this article that the social is prior to the political. 641 642 KEVIN WHITE ciety," though we should be careful not to identify our way of speaking with his: whereas we view " society " as a historical product, and so distinguish among different societies, societas for him, as for the ancient Romans, primarily connotes the universally human activity of coming together in association or alliance : it names that essential feature of human combination which is prior to institutions and to recognitions of special friendship, but which, just because it is a good of our nature, prevents human togetherness from being reduced to a bare co-presence. An illustration of the way in which Aristotle's reflections on human nature are both complicated and enriched, in Aquinas's appropriation of them, by the Roman notion of societas may be seen by comparing the differing treatments which the latter gives of the " social " virtues of truthfulness and friendliness in his commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics and in the Summa Theologiae . In both texts, to be sure, these virtues pale in significance beside such impressive qualities as courage and moderation; nevertheless, a notable increase in their importance seems to occur between the commentary, where, in keeping with the order of Aristotle's text, they appear as members of a series of virtues related to merely secondary matters, and the Summa, where they are elevated to a status among the " potential parts " of the virtue of justice and are distinguished by their relevance to the needs of man the animal sociale. Let us consider this difference in presentation, bearing in mind that the two texts were composed approximately simultaneously and fairly late in Aquinas's career, that is, during his second Parisian sojourn in 1269-72." I The commentary on the Ethics introduces the fourth book of the work as a sequel to the third : after discussing courage and moderation, which concern those things by which the very life of man is preserved, Aquinas says, here, in Book IV, the Philos4 For the chronology, see James A. Weisheipl, O.P., Friar Thomas d'Aquino: His Life, Thought and -YVorks, with Corrigenda and Addenda (Washington, 198~)' pp. 361, 380. AFFABILITAS AND VERITAS IN AQUINAS 643 opher treats of other "intermedaries," namely seven virtues and the feeling of shame, which are related to " certain secondary goods or evils." 5 Among the seven virtues, the first four have to do with external things, whether the external goods of wealth and honor or the external evils...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 641-653
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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