The Ethics in the Scriptum on the Sentences

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In the version generally received, each of the four books of Thomas's Scriptum on the Sentences draws on the whole of Nicomachean Ethics.68 They do not do so equally or uniformly. The subject-matter of the first book overlaps least with the Ethics, so it is not surprising that it contains the fewest citations. The second book of the Scriptum contains four times as many, the

67 See Gauthier in the Leonine Opera omnia, 47/1:254*-256*.

68 I must leave aside the complicated questions about subsequent redactions of the text of the Scriptum. Hence, I take the Mandonnet and Moos text, less the passages omitted by the Parma edition, as substantially reproducing the text of the Scriptum at the time of its first public circulation.

third book eight times. What may be surprising is that the fourth book, in which the densely theological subject matter would seem not to require any lessons from pagan ethics, contains many more citations than the second book and almost as many as the third. The explanation for this is connected to the explanation for the lack of uniformity in citation. Thomas's uses of the Ethics are clustered around certain specific topics. In each of Books 3 and 4, for example, more than half of the citations are contained in ten percent of the distinctions. A single distinction of the third book contains 125 citations or 13 percent of the total for the whole of the Scriptum.69

The clustering of citations will appear more striking when citations are sorted by their specific importance to the construction of the argument. A citation to Aristotle in an objection (argumentum) is often less telling than a citation in a sed contra or the corpus of an article, but a citation in the corpus will often lie to one side of the point at issue. The citation may support a general maxim, explain a peripheral matter, or provide the other term for an analogy. A statistical summary of citations may raise questions about Thomas's deployment of Aristotle, but by itself it will not settle them because it cannot sort the citations by function. Let me sample instead some types of uses, with a few examples for each taken only from Scriptum 1. I can then turn to the types most important for understanding Thomas's reading of Aristotle and to more substantive texts in later books. I stress these are neither "ideal types" nor elements in a scheme of classification meant to cover all of Thomas's works. They are illustrations of the range of functions that citations to Aristotle are called to perform while Thomas writes.

(1) A first type of citation is a learned allusion - an overflowing of erudition. Thomas's writing is mostly free of such gestures, but there are exceptions. For example, in glossing the Lombard's prologue, Thomas cites both the Poetics and the Metaphysics to argue that a fable fabula) is made up of wonders - this in reference to 2 Timothy 4.70 The single such use of the Ethics in Scriptum 1 might be a reference to Aristotle's remark that small things cannot be beautiful.71 The citation is incorporated into a Dionysian and Augustinian justification of Hilary's appropriation of qualities to the Persons of the Trinity. It looks to be more excessive association than argument.72

69 Scriptum Sent. 3.33.

70 Scriptum Sent. 1. prol. divisio textus.

71 Scriptum Sent. 1.31.2.1 solutio.

72 Valkenberg warns rightly about treating any citation as merely "ornamental." He shows as well the limits of any rigid classification of auctoritates. See Wilhelmus G. B. M. Valkenberg, Words of the Living God: Place and Function of Holy Scripture in the Theology of St Thomas Aquinas (Leuven: Peeters, 2000), pp. 44-48. My own typology is, I hope, sufficiently tentative and ad hoc to escape his justified criticisms.

(2) A second kind of citation is specious so far as it depends on a superficial misreading of some fragment from Aristotle. This type of citation occurs most often in objections or "doubts" (dubia) about the Lombard's letter. The first example comes in the first distinction of Scriptum 1. An argument there is buttressed by what Thomas takes to be a misconstrual of Aristotle's remarks on prudence in Ethics 6.73 The Aristotelian remarks are being used to construct an analogy with the Augustinian notion of "use" (uti). Thomas does not reject the analogy, but he does correct a misunderstanding of the relation of prudence to the will according to Aristotle.74 A similarly disputative example, not involving analogy, misuses Aristotle's definition of counsel (consilium).75

(3) A third sort of citation to the Ethics establishes a general point in no way specific to ethical matter or to Aristotle. An early example in the Scriptum comes when Ethics 1 is invoked, after Boethius, to establish that each kind of science should proceed according to the consideration of its matter.76 Other examples would be citations in support of assertions that God delights and that God cannot undo the past.77 In such citations, Aristotle serves as a convenient but not indispensable authority. He offers a clear or memorable formulation of what could be supported from many other authors.

(4) Citations of a fourth type are more specifically Aristotelian, but they support a peripheral point. There is a good example in the first article of Scriptum 1, within the dispute over whether human minds need instruction beyond "physical bodies of learning."78 While arguing that such a teaching is necessary, Thomas mentions that the incomplete contemplation of God attainable through creatures is said by Aristotle to be the source of contemplative happiness — that is, Thomas explains, the happiness of the wayfarer.79 The doctrine is specifically (though not exclusively) Aristotelian, but it is not integral to the argument here.

(5) A fifth group of citations supplies a general maxim or rule that can be used in a wide variety of ethical contexts. These are among the most frequent and most interesting of the substantive uses of Aristotle, since they contribute to the vocabularies and schemata within which Thomas

75 Scriptum Sent. 1.5 expositio textus.

76 Scriptum Sent. 1. prol. 1.5 solutio.

77 Respectively, Scriptum Sent. 1.8 expositio secundae textus and 1.39.1.1 arg. 1.

78 Scriptum Sent. 1. prol. 1.1 titulus.

79 Scriptum Sent. 1. prol. 1.1 solutio.

articulates his teaching on almost any point. A good example from Scriptum 1 is the use of the Ethics to support the distinction between operation (opera-tio) and motion (motus).80

(6) The sixth and final kind of citation, by far the most important, is both specifically Aristotelian and essential to Thomas's ethical purposes. Examples are the Scriptum's second and third citations of the Ethics. Here Aristotle's Book 6 is used to establish the number of speculative habits and the character of wisdom. Both assertions are integral to the determination of the article, which concerns theology as speculative and practical.81 Both invoke typically Aristotelian arguments. Thomas will also use Aristotle in this way when arguing that delight follows upon habit and that a good act requires three things: will or choice, a proper end, and firmness in performance.82

The list of six types of citations is not complete, but it should establish the main point. Thomas's citations of Aristotle's Ethics range from ornamental and specious to pertinent and important. The impression that "Aristotle is everywhere" whenever Thomas turns to ethics has to be corrected by noticing that Aristotle is not everywhere the same. Only the fifth and sixth types of citation, the generally or specifically constructive uses, are immediately pertinent to assessing Thomas's reading of the Ethics. They show his incorporation of Aristotelian terminology and argument into the analysis of inherited theological materials. They also mark an interesting departure from the immediately preceding Sentences-commentaries of Albert and Bonaventure, in both the boldness and explicitness of their reliance on the Aristotelian Ethics.

Important constructive uses of the Ethics are found in those sections of Scriptum 2, 3, and 4 that treat the Lombard's scattered remarks on moral matters - though not only of them. Thomas relies on Aristotle's notions of justice while discussing the adoration of the humanity of Christ.83 Aristotle's teaching on friendship appears in every discussion of charity, as his definitions of fortitude figure in articles on the Holy Spirit's gifts.84 Many more citations fall where one would expect them, in discussions of sin, grace, free choice and will, the virtues, repentance, contemplation, and happiness.85

80 Scriptum Sent. 1.4.1.1 solutio, 1.7.1.1 ad 3, 1.37.4.1. Notice that the three passages cite two different texts in the Ethics, 5.4-6 and 10.3, in support of the same maxim.

81 Scriptum Sent. 1. prol. 1.3.3 solutio. Compare the equally integral citations in 1.1.1 solutio and ad 1.

82 Respectively, Scriptum Sent. 1.17.1.4 solutio and 1.46 expositio textus.

83 Scriptum Sent. 3.9.1.

84 Respectively, Scriptum Sent. 2.27-29 for the main treatment, but see also 1.17 and 3.34.

85 Scriptum Sent. 2.22, 2.39, 2.42, 2.44 (sin); 2.24, 2.27 (grace); 2.25, 2.38-39, 2.44 (will); 3.23, 3.33, 3.36, 4.14 (virtues); 4.14-17 (repentance); 3.35 (contemplation); and 4.49 (happiness).

From this range, I would like to take only a single example, out of Scriptum 3.33. This is the distinction that contains, just by itself, some 125 explicit citations to the Ethics. The reason for this is that Thomas here interjects within the Lombard's sequence of topics an examination of moral virtue.86

The Lombard enumerates the cardinal virtues and provides a few definitions for them, but his main concern is with their survival into the afterlife. Thomas uses the enumeration as an occasion for offering a fuller doctrine of the moral virtues, including the cardinal virtues and their parts. In doing so, he goes considerably further than either Albert or Bonaventure do when explicating this passage. Albert's commentary on the Sentences, which would have been finished before the circulation of Grosseteste's anthology, offers four articles on the number, name, differences, and survival of the cardinal virtues.87 The Nicomachean Ethics is cited only six times in two of these articles.88 Only one of these citations could be regarded as programmatic; it concerns the order of treatment of virtues in the Ethics.89 Bonaventure undertakes a more extended discussion of the Lombard's passage, including questions on the unity, locus, sufficiency, origin, and permanence of the cardinal virtues.90 He also alludes to the Ethics somewhat more frequently, though many of the allusions are implicit or anonymous.91 Bonaventure's manner of citation is also noteworthy. Though his commentary would have been finished at Paris well after the material from Grosseteste became available, he continues to cite the Ethics in the old manner.92 By contrast to his immediate predecessors, Thomas introduces three Questions with 13 Articles on the moral virtues in common, then the cardinal virtues, then the parts of the cardinal virtues.93 It is by far the longest distinction in Scriptum 3.94

Even in this lengthy discussion, which refers to Aristotle's Ethics on most pages, it is not easy to distinguish the functions of the citations. Many of

86 This is not the first discussion of virtue as such in the Sentences-commentary. That has already come at Scriptum Sent. 2.27.1—6.

87 Albert, Super libros Sententiarum 3.33.1—4 (Borgnet Opera omnia 28:606—615); on the dating, Tugwell, Albert and Thomas, p. 11.

88 Albert, Super libros Sententiarum 3.33.1 arg. 7—8 and ad 7—9 (Borgnet Opera omnia 28:606, 608), 3.33.3 arg. 5 and ad 5 (28:610-611).

89 Albert, Super libros Sententiarum 3.33.3 ad 5 (Borgnet Opera omnia 28:611).

90 Bonaventure, Super libros Sententiarum 3.33.1.1-6 (Quaracchi 3:712-731).

91 For example, Bonaventure, Super libros Sententiarum 3.33.1.2 objs. 3-5 and ad 5 (Quaracchi 3:713-714), 3.33.1.3 sed contra 3 (3:716), 3.33.1.5 sed contra 4 (3:722), 3.33.1.5 dubium 3 (3:729).

92 For example, Bonaventure, Super libros Sententiarum 3.33.1.3 sed contra 1: "according to what the Philosopher says at the end of the New Ethics" (Quaracchi 3:716).

93 Scriptum Sent. 3.33.1-3.

94 The next longest are dd.3 and 34, which are each about two-thirds the length of d.33.

them are convenient tags in the construction of the dialectic. Almost half figure in objections, and some of them pass back and forth between objections, determinations, and answers to objections.95 In a few places, an authoritative text from Aristotle is deemed sufficient, by itself, to constitute a sed contra, but Aristotle's texts are hardly given unique authority.96 The last question of this distinction lines up divisions of the cardinal virtues from Aristotle, Cicero, Macrobius, and anonymous Greek philosophers, whom Thomas knows through Grosseteste - that is, through Albert.97 Aristotelian terminology receives no privilege within the series. In other passages, indeed, Thomas remarks on the limited scope of Aristotle's inquiry. The Philosopher speaks, he says, of the acquired virtues that complete human life in the earthly city.98 Just above, Thomas has invoked Macrobius's three-step transposition of the virtues of the active life onto the contemplative.99 Aristotle's ethical texts are something like a local account bounded not just by the Gospel, but by neo-Platonic moral hierarchies. Aristotle helps much, but in comparison even with other philosophy he can help just so far.

Thomas's complex appropriation of Aristotle appears not only when he is juxtaposing sources. Aristotle figures importantly in the construction of certain doctrines, but not of others. He is the main authority for arguing that the virtues are found in the mean, as he is when describing the matters of the various cardinal virtues.100 Aristotle is not an important authority for establishing the number and names of the cardinal virtues, their locus, or their relation to prudence.101 Moreover, and decisively, Thomas qualifies Aristotelian doctrine about virtues at every turn with theological teaching. Experience establishes the Aristotelian tenet that virtues are acquired by practice, but we also need infused moral virtues to be ordered to our highest end, and these differ in species from the acquired.102 All the kinds of virtues lie in the mean, except for the theological - that is, the most impor-tant.103 Acquired moral virtues, being the virtues of the earthly city, do not remain in heaven; infused virtues do.104 Reason appropriately rules over the

95 For example, Ethics 2.2 (1004b4) is used in Scriptum Sent. 3.33.1.2.2 solutio and 3.33.2.2.2 arg. 3. Ethics 5.7 (1123b30) is used in 3.33.2.1.4 arg. 2 and 3.33.3.3.4 solutio. Ethics 6.14 (1138al) is used in 3.33.3.1.1 ad 2 and 3.33.2.4 solutio, and 3.33.2.5 arg. 6.

96 Scriptum Sent. 3.33.1.3.1 sed contra 1, 3.33.2.2.2 sed contra 1, 3.33.2.2.3 sed contra 1.

100 Respectively, Scriptum Sent. 3.33.1.3.1-3 and 3.33.2.2.1-3.

101 Respectively, Scriptum Sent. 3.33.2.1.1-4, 3.33.2.4.1-4, 3.33.2.5.

103 Scriptum Sent. 3.33.1.3.4 solutio.

104 Scriptum Sent. 3.33.1.4 solutio.

acquired moral virtues, but the highest infused virtue, namely charity, resides in the will and commands reason.105 At all these points, the Aristotelian doctrine is subordinated to other teaching in order to be corrected by it.

Three conclusions can be gathered from the citations to Aristotle's Ethics in Thomas's Scriptum. First, there is irreducible variety in Thomas's manner of using citations. Second, the Aristotelian citations are juxtaposed with other authorities of all kinds. Third, Thomas subsumes the variously deployed and unevenly distributed Aristotelian authorities within a framework that is not theirs.

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