Joshua PHochschild Introduction

Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas each refer to a Neoplatonic theory of ethics according to which, above the two familiar levels of human virtue—the political and contemplative—there are two further levels of virtue for immaterial substances. Furthermore, according to this theory, the four cardinal virtues which are usually considered as political (or moral) are in fact manifested in each of these four levels. Both Bonaventure and Aquinas cite Macrobius as the authority for this theory. Though Macrobius's "Commentary on the Dream of Scipio" claims that Plotinus is the source of the theory, Macrobius appears to rely instead on some writings by Porphyry.1 These writings, which we have come to call the Sententiae ad intelligibility ducentes (APHORMAI PROS TA NOETA),2 are a collection of philosophical reflections which may have been intended as supplemental to Plotinus's Enneads. It is in the 34th of Porphyry's "Sentences" that we see the theory of a four-fold hierarchy of the cardinal virtues explained in greatest detail. In this chapter, I will first consider this theory as articulated by Porphyry, and then turn to examine the appropriations of this theory by Bonaventure and Aquinas respectively. Finally, I will consider the implications that these two appropriations of the Neoplatonic theory have for Bonaventure and Aquinas's understanding of the relationship between ethics, philosophy, and theology.

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