I. HE SPEAKS OF WHAT HE PROPOSES.
A. He states that we must discuss right reason. — 1109
But since we previously said that we ought to choose a mean, rejecting excess and defect, and that the mean is determined according to right reason, we may now make a division of right reason.
B. He shows what we must discuss about it.
A’ He shows what can be understood from the things that were said before. — 1110
In all habits previously considered and in other matters, there is some mark on which the man who possesses right reason keeps his eye, straining and relaxing; and this is the limit of the middle courses that we say are a mean between excess and defect in accord with right reason.
B’ He discloses that this is not sufficient. — 1111
It is true indeed to say this, but nothing is made clear by it. In all occupations in which science is at work, it is true to say that neither too much nor too little ought to be done or passed over but what is moderate and as reason determines. But a man possessing only this knowledge will not know how to proceed further, for instance, what remedies must be given for the body, if someone suggests that it should be whatever medical art, as possessed by the doctor, prescribes.
C’ He infers what should be added. — 1112
For this reason, not only must this true statement be made about the habits of the soul but also the nature of right reason and its limits must be determined.
C. He continues with what precedes. — 1113
We have, however, already divided the virtues of the soul, stating that some are moral and others intellectual. The moral virtues we have discussed, and the others we will now treat, after first speaking of the soul.
II. HE EXPLAINS HIS PROPOSITION.
A. He explains what is to be discussed about the soul.
A’ He resumes the division of the parts of the soul. — 1114
We said before that there are two parts of the soul: rational and irrational.
B’ He subdivides one member.
1. HE PROPOSES THE DIVISION. — 1115
Now we will speak of the rational part in the same way. Let us suppose two parts of the rational soul: one by which we consider the kind of things whose principles cannot be otherwise; the other by which we consider contingent things.
2. HE EXPLAINS THE MEMBERS OF THE DIVISION.
a. He explains the aforementioned division by this reasoning. — 1116
To the objects, which differ in kind, correspond different kinds of parts of the soul,
b. He explains the major proposition. — 1117
since indeed the knowledge of the objects exists (in the parts) according to a certain species and reality.
3. HE NAMES THE MEMBERS OF THE DIVISION. — 1118-1123
Let one of these be called scientific but the other estimative, for deliberating and estimating are the same. No one deliberates about things that do not take place any other way. Therefore the estimative element is one part of the rational soul.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1109. After the Philosopher has completed the explanation of the moral virtues, he begins in the sixth book to explain the intellectual virtues. First [I] by way of introduction, he speaks of what he proposes. Then [II], at “We said before etc.,” he explains his proposition. On the first point he does three things. Initially [I, A], he states that we must discuss right reason. Next [I, B], at “In all habits previously considered etc.,” he shows what we must discuss about it. Last [I, C], at “We have, however, already divided etc.,” he continues with what precedes. He says first that it was stated before (317) we must choose a mean, and reject excess and defect in the moral virtues that we have just discussed (245-1108); that the mean is determined according to right reason, as was decided in the second book (322). Consequently, we should divide right reason, an intellectual virtue that is rectitude of the reason, into its species, as in a similar fashion we have already divided the moral virtues.
1110. Then [I, B ], at “In all habits previously considered” he shows what has to be discussed about right reason. On this point he does three things. First [I, B, A’] he shows what can be understood from the things that were said before. Next [I, B, B’] at “It is true indeed etc.,” he discloses that this is not sufficient. Last [I, B, C’], at “For this reason etc.,” he infers what should be added. He says first that in all habits previously considered, i.e., the moral virtues—as in other things, for example, the artistic—there is an object, as it were a mark, on which the man with right reason keeps his eye; and according to this he strives and makes modifications (i.e., he adds or subtracts) or considers by this mark what the limit of the middle course is, how it ought to be ascertained in each virtue. Such a middle course we say is a certain mean between excess and defect, and in accord with right reason. This mark, holding for the virtuous man the place of a rule for the craftsman, is what is becoming and fitting, that which we must not fall short of, nor add to; this is the mean of virtue. These matters have been clarified in the second book (327).
1111. Next [ 1, B, B’] at “It is true,’ he shows that it is not enough to know this about right reason. He states that what was said (1110) is certainly true but does not make sufficiently clear what is required for the use of right reason; it is something common verified in all human occupations in which men operate according to a practical science, for instance, in strategy, medicine, and the various professions. In all these it is true to say that neither too much nor too little ought to be done or passed over but that which holds the middle and is in accord with what right reason determines. But the man, who considers the common feature alone, will not know how to proceed to action by reason of this generality. If a person were to ask what ought to be given to restore bodily health, and someone advised him to give what is prescribed by medical art and by one who has this art, i.e., a doctor, the interrogator would not know from such information what medicine the sick man needs. But as the right plan of prudence is the guide in moral matters so the right plan of art is the guide in art. Hence it is evident that the principle discussed is insufficient.
1112. At “For this reason” [I, B, C] he concludes by like reasoning that a general statement on the soul’s habits is insufficient; a precise definition ‘of the limits of right reason and its norm must be determined.
1113. Then [I, C], at “We have, however, already divided etc.,” he continues, with a previous discussion. He says that in making the division at the end of the first book (234), we spoke of the virtues of the soul as being either intellectual or moral. Since we have completed the investigation of the moral virtues (245-1108), it remains for us to examine the intellectual virtues in accord with which reason itself is regulated, prefacing this with a discussion of certain things about the soul (for without this knowledge the virtues of the soul cannot be known), as was noted previously at the end of the first book (228).
1114. Next [II], at “We said before,” he begins to follow up his proposition. First [II, A] he explains what is to be discussed about the soul. Then [Lect. 2, (II), B] at “We must, then etc.,” he pursues the intellectual virtues (B. 1139 a 16). On the initial point he does three things. First [II, A, A’] he resumes the division of the parts of the soul given previously at the end of the first book. Second [II, A, B’], at “Now we will etc.,” he subdivides one member. He says first it was previously stated that there are two parts of the soul: one is rational, the other irrational. It has been explained before (243) that the part which is essentially rational is perfected by the intellectual virtues. But the irrational part, which, however, participates in rationality, is perfected by the moral virtues.
1115. At “Now we will” [II, A, B’] he subdivides one member of this division. On this point he does three things. First [ B’ 1] he proposes the division. Next [B’, 2], at “To the objects, which differ etc.’ “ he explains the members of the division. Last [ B’, 3 1, at “Let one of these be called etc.,” he names the members of the division. He says first that, since we have in mind the intellectual virtues that perfect the rational part of the soul, in order to distinguish the intellectual virtues we must divide the rational part in the same way as we have previously divided the parts of the soul (229)—not as it were by reason of its principal aspect but in a way sufficient for our purpose. Let us suppose, then, that the organ of reason is divided into two parts: one by which we consider those necessary things whose principles cannot be otherwise; the other, by which we consider contingent things.
1116. Then [B’, 2], at “To the objects, which differ,” he explains the afore-mentioned division by this reasoning [2, a]. It is necessary that different kinds of parts of the soul should correspond to objects differing in kind. But obviously the contingent and the necessary differ in kind, as is noted concerning the corruptible and incorruptible in the tenth book of the Metaphysics (Ch. 15, 1058 b 26 sq.; St. Th. Lect. 12, 2136-2145). Therefore we conclude that by a differentiation of parts the rational soul knows necessary and contingent things.
1117. Next [2, b], at “since indeed?” he explains the major proposition in this way. Knowledge exists in parts of the soul according as they have a certain likeness to the things known. By this we do not mean that the thing actually known is in the substance of the knowing faculty (as Empedocles held: that we know earth by earth, fire by fire, and so on) but inasmuch as each power of the soul according to its peculiar nature is proportioned to know objects of this kind, as sight to see color and hearing to perceive sound. But in things that are similar and proportioned to one another the same reason for distinction exists. Therefore, as the things known by reason differ in kind, so also the parts of the rational soul differ.
1118. At “Let one of these be called” [B’, 3], he names the afore-mentioned parts. He says that, of these parts of the rational soul, the one that considers necessary things may be called the scientific kind of soul because its knowledge is of the necessary. But another part may be called the estimative kind (ratiocinativa) according as estimating and deliberating are taken for the same thing. He calls deliberation a certain inquiry not yet concluded, like argumentation. This indetermination of mind happens especially in regard to contingent things that are the only subjects of deliberation, for no one deliberates about things that take place in one fixed mode. So, then, it follows that the estimative element is one part of the rational soul.
1119. What the Philosopher here determines seems to be doubtful. In the third book De Anima (Ch. 4, 429 a 10 sq.; St. Th. Lect. 7, 671 sq.) he divides the intellect into two parts, viz., the active and the potential. He says that the active intellect is the power of operating on all things; and the potential, the power of becoming all things. So, then, both the active intellect and the potential by their very nature are in touch with all things. Therefore, it would be contrary to the nature of each intellect, if there was one part of the soul that understood necessary things, and another contingent things.
1120. Again, the true in necessary matter and the true in contingent matter resemble perfect and imperfect in the genus of what is true. But by the same power of the soul we know both perfect and imperfect things of the same genus, for example, sight perceives bright and dark objects. Much more, then, the same intellective power knows necessary and contingent things.
1121. Likewise, the intellect touches intelligible objects in a more universal way than the senses touch sensible objects. Now the nobler the power the more united is its activity. But the sense of sight shares in both incorruptible (heavenly) bodies and corruptible (lower) bodies, to which the necessary and contingent proportionately correspond. For a far greater reason, then, the intellective power knows both necessary and contingent.
1122. Moreover, the proof that he presents does not seem to be convincing. Not every difference in the classification of the object requires different powers (otherwise we would not see plants and other animals by the same power of sight) but that difference regarding the formal reason of the object. For instance, if there were a different genus of color or light there would have to be different powers of sight. But the proper object of the intellect is that which exists, something common to all substances and accidents, although not in the same way. Hence we know both substances and accidents by the same intellective power. Therefore, by the same token the difference in the classification of necessary and contingent things does not require different intellective powers.
1123. This doubt is easily solved by considering that contingent things can be understood in two ways: in one way according to their universal concepts (rationes), in the other way as they are in the concrete. Accordingly, the universal concepts of contingent things are immutable. In this way demonstrations are given about contingent things, and the knowledge of them belongs to the demonstrative sciences. Natural science is concerned not only with necessary and incorruptible things but also with corruptible and contingent things. Hence it is evident that contingent things considered in this way belong to the same part of the intellective soul (called scientific by the Philosopher) as necessary things, and the reasons presented proceed with this understanding. In the other way contingent things can be taken as they are in the real order. Thus understood they are variable and do not fall under the intellect except by means of the sensitive powers. So, among the parts of the sensitive soul we place a power called particular reason or the sensory power of judgment, which collates particular impressions. It is in this sense that the Philosopher here understands contingent things, for thus they are objects of counsel and operation. For this reason he says that necessary and contingent things, like speculative universals and individual operable things, belong to different parts of the rational soul.
Function Proper to Each Part of the Soul
B. He considers the particular intellectual virtues.
A’ He investigates the ways of understanding the intellectual virtues.
1. HE PROPOSES THE COMMON NOTION OF VIRTUE. — 1124-1125
We must, then, ascertain what is the most excellent habit of each of these parts, for this is their virtue.
But virtue is directed to the work that is proper.
2. HE INQUIRES WHAT THE GOOD OF THE RATIONAL SOUL IS IN REGARD TO EACH PART.
a. He shows what the principles of human acts are.
i. He proposes three ingredients that are called principles of human acts. — 1126
Three things in the soul seem to have power over action and truth: the senses, intellect, and appetitive faculty.
ii. He excludes one of them. — 1127
But one of these, viz., the senses is not a principle of any action. This is obvious because dumb animals have senses but do not share in action.
iii. He shows how the remaining two can harmonize.
x. HE SHOWS HOW THEIR ACTIONS ARE PROPORTIONABLE. — 1128
Now, affirmation and negation are in the mind, and corresponding to these in the appetitive faculty are pursuit and flight.
y. HE SHOWS HOW THESE ACTIONS... ARE IN AGREEMENT. — 1129
Therefore, since moral virtue is a habit of free choice, and choice is the appetitive faculty deliberating, then reason must be true and the appetitive faculty right if choice is to be good; and the same things that reason affirms, the appetitive faculty pursues. Hence this mind and its truth are practical.
b. He seeks what the proper work of reason is.
i. He shows how each part is related to truth. — 1130-1132
However, it is the function of the speculative mind (but not the practical) as it operates in good or faulty fashion, to express truth and falsity. This belongs to every intellect but the good of the practical intellect is truth conformable to a right appetitive faculty.
ii. He shows how each part is related to action.
x. HE EXPLAINS THAT THE MIND IS A PRINCIPLE OF ACTION. — 1133-1134
Choice, then, is a principle of action, and so of motion but not as a final cause. But, for choice itself the principles are the appetitive faculty and the reason which is terminative. Hence choice does not exist without intellect and mind, nor without moral habit, for good and bad actions cannot exist without the intellect or mind and moral disposition.
y. HE SHOWS OF WHAT MIND HE SPEAKS.
aa. He explains the proposition. — 1135-1136
Still, mind itself does not move any thing, but the mind that has a purpose and is practical does so, for it governs even the operation which fashions some product. Indeed every worker produces for the sake of something he is not induced to act for an end in general but for a particular thing made for some use; he does not act merely for the sake of acting. The good action itself is an end but the appetitive faculty is for some particular end.
bb. He infers a corollary. — 1137
Therefore, choice is either the appetitive intellect or the intellective faculty of appetition, and man is this kind of principle.
z. HE EXPLAINS ABOUT WHAT KIND OF OBJECTS THE MIND IS A PRINCIPLE OF ACTION. — 1138-1139
What has already taken place is not now an object of choice, e.g., no one now chooses to have captured Ilion. Nor does anyone give advice about something past, but about a future and contingent event. It is not possible that what has taken place did not occur. Therefore Agathon was right, for God lacks only this—to undo things already done.
c. He draws the conclusion he sought to establish. — 1140
In any case the work of each of the intellect’s parts is the knowledge of the truth.
3. HE INFERS THE NATURE AND QUALITY OF THE VIRTUES OF EACH PART. — 1141
These habits according to which each part especially manifests the truth are the virtues of both divisions of the intellect.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1124. After the Philosopher has divided the parts of the rational soul as required for his purpose, he now begins to examine the intellectual virtues themselves by which each part of the rational soul is perfected. First [B] he considers the particular intellectual virtues. Then [Lect. 10, I], at “Someone may raise a doubt etc.” (B. 1143 b 17), he expresses a certain doubt about their utility. On the first point he does two things. First [A’] he investigates the ways of understanding the intellectual virtues. Next [Lect. 3], at “Introducing again the subject etc.” (B. 1139 b 14), he sets himself to examine them. On the initial point he does three things. First [A’, 1 ] he proposes the common notion of virtue as stated in the beginning (65, 81): that which renders the work of a thing good is its virtue. Then [A’, 2], at “Three things in the soul etc.,” he inquires what the good of the rational soul is in regard to each part. Last [A’, 3], at “These habits according to which etc.,” he infers the nature and quality of the virtues of each part.
1125. He says first that, because we have assigned two parts of the rational soul (to which the intellectual virtues are ascribed), we must understand which is the most excellent habit of each of these two parts. The reason is that each habit is necessarily a virtue of each part. It has been noted (308, 536) that the virtue of anything is directed to its characteristic operation, for this is perfected by virtue. Such a habit would be best when it insures that an action is performed in the best way.
1126. Then [A’, 2 ], at “Three things in the soul,” he inquires what the proper good of each of these parts is. On this point he does three things. First [2, a] he shows what the principles of human acts are. Next [2, b], at “However, it is the function etc.,” he seeks what the proper work of reason is. Last [2, c], at “In any case the work etc.,” he draws the conclusion he sought to establish. On the initial point he does three things. First [a, i] he proposes three ingredients that are called principles of human acts. Then [a, ii], at “But one of these etc.,” he excludes one of them. Finally [a, iii], at “Now, affirmation and negation etc.,” he shows how the remaining two can harmonize with each other. In regard to the first we must consider that two works are said to be proper to man, namely, knowledge of truth and action, inasmuch as man assumes mastery of his own action (and as moved or led by something). Over these two, then three things in the soul: senses, intellect, and appetitive faculty, seem to have mastery and power. It is by the same three that animals move themselves, as was noted in the third book De Anima (Ch. 10, 433 a 9 sq.; St. Th. Lect. 15, 818-819).
1127. Next [a, ii], at “But one of these,” he excludes one of them, viz., the senses, from further consideration. It is certainly obvious that truth pertains neither to the senses nor to the appetitive faculty. He adds further that one of the three, the senses, is not a principle of any action, in such a way that mastery of the action can be established. This is clear from the fact that dumb animals have senses but do not have social action because they are not masters of their own action; they do not operate from themselves but are moved by natural instinct.
1128. At “Now, affirmation and negation,” [a, iii], he shows how the work of the remaining two, namely, intellect and appetitive faculty, can harmonize one with the other. First [a, iii, x] he shows how their actions are proportionable. In judging, the intellect has two actions, viz., affirmation by which it assents to what is true, and negation by which it dissents from what is false. To these two correspond proportionately two acts in the appetitive faculty, namely, pursuit by which the appetitive faculty tends and adheres to good, and flight by which it withdraws and dissents from evil. In this manner the intellect and the appetitive faculty can be brought into harmony inasmuch as what the intellect declares good the appetitive faculty pursues, and what the intellect denies to be good the appetitive faculty seeks to avoid.
1129. Then [a, iii, y], at “Therefore, since moral virtue,” he shows how these actions of the intellect and appetitive faculty—touching the moral virtues—are in agreement. Moral virtue is a habit of free choice, as was said in the second book (305, 308, 382). Choice is the appetitive faculty deliberating inasmuch as the appetitive faculty takes what was pre-considered, as was stated in the third book (435, 436, 457). But to counsel is an act of one part of the reason, as was previously shown (473, 476, 482, 1118). Since then reason and appetitive faculty concur in choice, if choice ought to be good—this is required for the nature of a moral virtue—the reason must be true and the appetitive faculty right, so that the same thing which reason declares or affirms, the appetitive faculty pursues. In order that there be perfection in action it is necessary that none of its principles be imperfect. But this intellect or reason (which harmonizes in this way with the right appetitive faculty) and its truth are practical.
1130. Next [2, b], at “However, it is the function” he explains what the work of the rational soul is in terms of each part. First [b, i] he shows how each part is related to truth. Then [b, ii], at “Choice, then, is etc.,” he shows how each part is related to action. He says first that the work of a good or faulty mind (i.e., intellect or reason), in the speculative rather than practical order, consists simply in the true and false, in such a way that the absolutely true is its good and the absolutely false is its evil. To express the true and the false is an essential function of every intellect. But the good of the practical intellect is not absolute truth but the “conformable” truth, i.e., corresponding to a right appetitive faculty, as has been shown 022, 326, 548), because on this point the moral virtues are united.
1131. However, there seems to be some difficulty here. If the truth of the practical intellect is determined by comparison with a right appetitive faculty and the rectitude of the appetitive faculty is determined by the fact that it agrees with right reason, as was previously shown, an apparent vicious circle results from these statements. Therefore, we must say that the end and the means pertain to the appetitive faculty, but the end is determined for man by nature, as was shown in the third book (524, 525). On the contrary, the means are not determined for us by nature but are to be investigated by reason. So it is obvious that rectitude of the appetitive faculty in regard to the end is the measure of truth for the practical reason. According to this the truth of the practical reason is determined by agreement with a right appetitive faculty. But the truth of the practical reason itself is the rule for the rectitude of the appetitive faculty in regard to the means. According to this, then, the appetitive faculty is called right inasmuch as it pursues the things that reason calls true.
1132. A further confusion arises here from the manner in which he connects the speculative and practical intellect—as with the two parts given above (1118): the scientific and the estimative—since he stated previously (1123) that the scientific and estimative were different parts, a thing he denies about the speculative and practical intellect in the third book De Anima (Ch. 10, 433 a 15 sq.; St. Th. Lect. 15, 820-821). Therefore, we must say that the practical intellect has a beginning in a universal consideration and, according to this, is the same in subject with the speculative, but its consideration terminates in an individual operable thing. Hence the Philosopher says in the third book De Anima (Ch. 11, 434 a 16 sq.; St. Th. Lect. 16, 845-846) that universal reason does not move without the particular. In this way the estimative is considered a different part from the scientific.
1133. At “Choice, then, is the principle” [b, ii], he shows that each reason has a relation to action. On this point he does three things. First [ii, x] he explains that the mind is a principle
of action. Second [ii, y], at “Still, mind itself etc.,” he shows of what mind he speaks. Third [ii, z], at “What has already taken place,” he explains about what kinds of objects the mind is the active principle. First he concludes from what was just said (1129) that because choice is the appetitive faculty deliberating, consequently it is a principle of action, and so of motion, i.e., in the manner of an efficient cause but not for the sake of something, i.e., in the manner of a final cause. We have already said in the third book De Anima (Ch. 10, 433 b 27-31; St. Th. Lect. 15, 836-837) that the appetitive faculty is a source of movement in animals. But, for choice itself the principles are the appetitive faculty and the reason that is purposive, i.e., which is ordered to a practical thing as to an end, for the choice of the appetitive faculty is concerned with the things that are for the end. Hence reason proposing an end and thereupon proceeding to think discursively about it, and the appetitive faculty tending to the end, are compared to choice as a cause. So it is that choice depends on the intellect (or mind) and on the moral habit that perfects the appetitive power in such a way that it does not exist without either of them.
1134. He gives a sign in proof of this, for the effect of choice is action, as was pointed out. But the action that is good, and its direct opposite in action (i.e., the action that is evil) cannot exist without the mind and disposition or moral condition, i.e., some inclination belonging to the appetitive faculty. Hence neither does choice, good or bad, exist without disposition and mind.
1135- Then [ii, y], at “Still, mind itself,” he shows what mind or reason is the principle of action. First [y, aa] he explains the proposition. Next [y, bb], at “Therefore, choice is either etc.,” he infers a corollary from what has been discussed. He says first that, although the mind is a principle of action, nevertheless the mind simply considered in itself (or the speculative reason) does not move anything because it prescribes nothing about pursuit or flight, as was stated in the third book De Anima (Ch. 9, 432 b 27-33; St. Th. Lect. 14, 812-815), Hence it is not the speculative mind that is a principle of action but the mind having a purpose or ordained to an individual operable thing as an end. This is the practical reason or mind, and it governs not only active operation, which does not pass into external matter but remains in the agent—like desiring and becoming angry—but also “factive” operation which does pass into external matter—burning and cutting for instance.
1136. He proves this by the fact that every worker, say the carpenter or builder, makes his product for the sake of something, i.e., for an end—not an abstract one but with a view to some particular thing that is made or established in external matter, for instance, a knife or a house. Moreover, the end is not something done, i.e., a practicable thing existing in the agent, like rightly desiring or becoming angry. Every worker acts for the sake of something belonging to a thing, i.e., which has some use, as -the use of a house is habitation. This then is the end of the worker, viz., something made and not a thing done, Therefore, it is not something done, since in immanent actions the good action itself is the end, for example, rightly desiring or justly becoming angry. As the practical mind is for the sake of this end, either a thing made or an action, so also the appetitive faculty is for the sake of some particular end.
1137. Next [y, bb], at “Therefore, choice is either,” he draws a corollary from the premises. Because choice is a principle of action, and the principles of choice are the appetitive faculty and reason (i.e., intellect or mind), which by means of choice are principles of action, it follows that choice is of the appetitive intellect (in such a way that choice is essentially an act of the intellect according as it orders the appetitive faculty) or it is of the intellective faculty of appetition (in such a way that choice is essentially an act of the appetitive faculty according as it is directed by the intellect). The latter is nearer the truth, as is clear from the objects. The object of choice, as also of the appetitive faculty, is good and evil but not true and false which pertain to the intellect as such. A principle of this kind is man, viz., an agent choosing by means of intellect and appetitive faculty.
1138. At “What has already taken place” [ii, z] he explains the kinds of objects the mind is concerned with as the principle of action by power of choice. He says that nothing over and done with, i.e., nothing past is an object of choice, for instance, no one chooses Ilion, that is, to have captured Troy. The reason is that choice belongs to the deliberating faculty of appetition, as already noted (1129, 1133). But no one takes counsel about something done, i.e., about a past event but about a future and contingent one. He proves this from the fact that counsel is given only about a contingent event, as shown previously (46o-472). Now what was done is not contingent, since it is not possible that the thing becomes undone, i.e., that it did not take place. Here he introduces the words of Agathon who rightly remarked: God lacks only this power to cause things to be unproduced, i.e., not to be made which are already made. This was well said.
1139. Everything that can be contained under the proper object of any cause’s capacity is necessarily subjected to the influence of that cause, for instance, fire can heat anything capable of becoming hot. But the power of God, who is the universal cause of being, extends to the totality of being. Hence that only is withdrawn from the divine power which is inconsistent with the nature of being, as something which implies a contradiction. That a thing done be undone is of this kind, because it involves the same formality I for a thing to be (i.e., will be) while it is, and to have been (i.e., was to have been) while it was; and for what is, not to be-and what was, not to have been.
1140. Next [2, c], at “In any case the work,” he infers from the premises that knowledge of the truth is the work of each part of the intellect, namely, the practical and the speculative or the scientific and the estimative (ratiocinativi).
1141. Then [A’, 31, at “Those habits according to which,” he deduces lastly that those habits by which the truth—the good of the intellective part—is manifested, are virtues of both divisions of the intellect.
An Enumeration of the Intellectual Virtues;
Every Science Can Be Taught
I. HE DISCUSSES THE PRINCIPAL INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES.
A. He enumerates the intellectual virtues. — 1142-1143
Introducing again the subject treated above, let us discuss it further. There are five habits by which the soul expresses the truth by affirming or denying. They are: art, science, prudence, wisdom, and understanding; but not suspicion’ and opinion, which can express falsehood.
B. He discusses each of them.
A’ He discusses... them.
1. HE DISCUSSES THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES PERFECTING THE INTELLECT REGARDING THE THINGS... DERIVED FROM PRINCIPLES.
a. The science which perfects the intellect in regard to necessary things.
i. Science on the part of the matter. — 1144-1146
From this then it can be made clear what science is, if it is proper to science to know with certitude and not follow approximations to the truth. Indeed we all suppose that what we know scientifically cannot be in any other way. But contingent things are not of this kind, for when they pass from observation it is not known whether they exist or not. The object of science then concerns necessity, and therefore is eternal, because everything that is of necessity without qualification is eternal. Eternal things, however, are unproduced and indestructible.
ii. (Science) on the part of the cause. — 1147-1149
Besides, every science can be taught and every object of science can be learned. But all teaching comes about by reason of previous knowledge, as we have indicated in the Analytics; one kind is by induction, the other by syllogism. Induction then gives us a first principle and a universal assent, but the syllogism proceeds from universals. Therefore, there are principles from which the syllogism proceeds principles not derived from the syllogism, and consequently arising from induction. Science then is a demonstrative habit having all the other requirements determined in the Analytics. When a man knows scientifically, he assents to and understands principles in some way; indeed, if he does not know them more than the conclusion, then he has science only incidentally. In this way, therefore, the question of science has been settled.
b. The habits perfecting the intellect in regard to contingent things.
i. He shows that there are two habits concerned with contingent things. — 1150-1152
The contingent is both something to be made and something to be done; and making is one thing and action another. We assent to these things even by proofs outside the science. For this reason the habit that is active under reason’s guidance is different from the habit that is productive through reason. Likewise action and making are not contained under one another, for action is not making, nor is making action.
ii. He defines one of these (habits).
x. FIRST HE DEFINES ART IN ITSELF.
aa. He shows what art is. — 1153
However, since architecture is a kind of art and also a kind of habit productive through reason, and no art is found that is not a habit of this sort; and again there is no such habit that is not an art, art then will be the same as a habit concerned with making, under the guidance of true reason.
bb. He shows what the subject matter of art is.
a’ He proposes the subject matter of art. — 1154-1155
But every art is concerned with realization, an artifact and observation; it considers particularly how contingent things may be made, and indicates that their principle is in the craftsman but not in the thing made.
b’. He shows from what things art differs according to its subject matter.
a. IN RELATION TO DIVINE SCIENCES. — 1156
Art, however, does not deal with things that exist necessarily or come into being by necessity;
b. TO NATURAL SCIENCE. — 1157
nor with things that are according to nature, for they have these principles in themselves.
c. (TO) PRUDENCE. — 1158
Since making and action differ from one another, art necessarily directs making and not action.
c’ He shows with what it agrees in subject matter. — 1159
In some manner art and chance are concerned with the same things, as Agathon remarked: Art highly esteems chance, and chance art.
y. SECOND (HE DEFINES ART) BY COMPARISON WITH ITS OPPOSITE. — 1160
Art then, as was previously noted, is a kind of habit productive under the guidance of genuine reason On the contrary, however, unskillfulness is a habit productive under the guidance of incorrect reason operating on contingent matter.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1142. After the Philosopher has investigated the way in which the intellectual virtues are to be understood, he begins now to discuss the intellectual virtues themselves. First [I] he discusses the principal intellectual virtues. Then [Lect. 8], at “Now we must consider etc.” (B.1142 a 32), he defines certain virtues connected with one of them, namely, prudence. On the initial point he does two things. First [A] he enumerates the intellectual virtues.
Next [B], at “From this then it can be made clear etc.,” he discusses each of them. He says first—after the way of understanding the intellectual virtues has been given—we ought to begin again from what has been settled before (1115), so that we may treat the intellectual virtues themselves.
1143. It was previously pointed out (1125) that the intellectual virtues are habits by which the soul expresses the truth. But there are five habits by which the soul always expresses the truth by either affirming or denying, viz., art, science, prudence, wisdom, and understanding. Clearly then these are the five intellectual virtues. He omits suspicion, which is brought about by some conjectures concerning any particular facts, and opinion, which is brought about by some conjectures concerning any general things. Although these two sometimes do express the truth, nevertheless at other times it happens that they express falsehood, which is the evil of the intellect just as truth is the good of the intellect. But it is contrary to the nature of virtue to be the principle of an evil act. Obviously then suspicion and opinion cannot be called intellectual virtues.
1144. Then [B], at “From this then it can be made clear,” he determines the intellectual virtues just enumerated. First [A’] he discusses each of them. Next [Lect. 6], at “As having supremacy” (B. 1141 a 20), he shows which is the principal one among them. On the initial point he proceeds in two ways. First  he discusses the intellectual virtues perfecting the intellect regarding the things which are derived from principles. Second [Lect. 5], at “Since science is an evaluation etc.” (B. 1140 b 31), he discusses the intellectual habits perfecting the intellect in regard to first principles. On the first point he does two things. Initially [a] he defines the science which perfects the intellect in regard to necessary things. Then [b], at “The contingent is both etc.,” he defines the habits perfecting the intellect in regard to contingent things. On the initial point he does two things. First [a, i] he explains science on the part of the matter. Next [a, ii], at “Besides, every science can be taught etc.,” he explains it on the part of the cause.
1145. He affirms first that it can be made clear what science is from what has been said if it is proper to science to know with certitude and not follow approximations to the truth, for in this latter way we are sometimes said to know sensible things about which we are certain. But a well-founded notion of science is taken from the fact that we all agree that what we know cannot be in any other way; otherwise we would have the doubt of the guesser and not the certitude of the knower. However, certitude of this kind, viz., that cannot be in any other way, is not possible about things that can be in some other way, for in that case certitude can be attained about them only when they fall under the senses. But when they pass from observation, that is, cease to be seen or felt, then their existence or non-existence escapes us, as is obvious in the fact that Socrates is sitting. It is evident then that everything known by science is of necessity. From this he infers that it is eternal because everything which is of necessity without qualification is eternal. But things of this kind are neither produced nor destroyed. Therefore, it is about such things that science is concerned.
1146. There can even be a science about producible and perishable things, for example, natural science; yet it cannot be based on particulars that are subject to generation and destruction, but on universal reasons which are necessary and eternal.
1147. Next [a, ii], at “Besides, every science,” he explains science by its cause, saying that every science seems to be teachable. Hence it is stated in the first book of the Metaphysics (Ch. 2, 982 a 14; St. Th. Lect. 2, 39) that a characteristic of the one possessing science is his ability to teach, for a thing is led from potency to actuality by another which is actual. For the same reason every knowable thing can be learned by a man who has the potentiality. But all teaching or science must come about by reason of some previous knowledge, as was indicated in the beginning of the Posterior Analytics (Bk. I, Ch. 1, 71 a; St. Th. Lect. 1, 8). We cannot arrive at the knowledge of an unknown thing except by means of something known.
1148. There is a twofold teaching by means of things known: one by induction and the other by syllogism. Induction leads us to perceive some principle and something universal at which we arrive by experiments with singulars, as is noted in the first book of the Metaphysics (Ch. 1, 980 b 25-981 a 12; St. Th. Lect. 1, 17-19). But the syllogism proceeds from universal principles previously known in the aforementioned manner. Therefore, it is evident from this that there are certain principles from which the syllogism proceeds and which are not attested as accurate by the syllogism. Otherwise there would be a process to infinity in the principles of syllogisms-which is impossible, as is proved in the first book of the Posterior Analytics (Ch. 3, 72 b 25-73 a 20; St. Th. Lect. 8, 68-75. Ch. 19-22, 81 b 10-84 b 2; St. Th. 31-35, 255-307). So then it remains that the principle of the syllogism is induction. But not every syllogism is productive of knowledge, i.e., causes science, but only the demonstrative, which infers necessary things from the necessary.
1149. So, obviously, science is a demonstrative habit, i.e., produced by demonstration, taking into consideration what has been noted about science in the Posterior Analytics. In order that a man may have science it is necessary that the principles by which he knows be assented to in some way and understood even more than the conclusions which are known. Otherwise he will not have science per se but only incidentally, inasmuch as it can happen that he knows this conclusion through certain other principles and not through these which he does not know better than the conclusion. The cause, certainly, must be more powerful than the effect. Hence that which is the cause of knowing must be more known. In this way then the question of science has been settled.
1150. Next [b], at “The contingent is both” he defines the habits which perfect the intellect in regard to contingent things. On this point he does three things. First [b, i] he shows that there are two habits concerned with contingent things. Second [b, ii], at “However, since architecture etc.,” he defines one of these. Third [Lect. 4], at “Let us now investigate etc.,” he defines the other, viz., prudence. He says first that the contingent is divided into two sections: something to be done, and something to be made. Thus we know that the one is an action and the other a making.
1151. We can assent to these things by external reasons, i.e., by what has been determined outside this science, viz., in the ninth book of the Metaphysics (Ch. 8, 1050 a 23-1050 b; St. Th. Lect. 8, 1862-1865). There the difference between action and making has been explained. Action is an operation remaining in the agent, like seeing, understanding, and willing. But making is an operation passing into external matter to fashion something out of it, like constructing and sawing. Since habits are distinguished according to the object, it follows that the habit that is active by means of reason, i.e., prudence, is different from the habit that is productive through reason, i.e., art. It follows also that one of these is not contained under the other, as action and making are not contained under one another, since neither is action making nor is making action. They are distinguished by opposing differences, as is clear from what has just been said.
1152. We must consider that the knowledge of contingent things cannot possess the truth’s certitude rejecting untruth. Therefore, where there is question of knowledge alone, contingent things are passed over by the intellect which is perfected by the knowledge of the truth. But the knowledge of the contingent is useful according as it gives direction to human operation which is concerned with what is contingent. For that reason he makes the division of contingent things—when treating the intellectual virtues—only as they are subject to human operation. Hence, also, only the practical sciences are concerned with contingent things precisely as they are contingent, viz., in the area of the particular. The speculative sciences, on the other hand, do not deal with contingent things except according to universal reasons, as was noted before (1146).
1153. Then [b, ii], at “However, since architecture,” he defines art. First [ii, x] he defines art in itself, and second [ii, y] at “Art then etc.,” by comparison with its opposite. On the initial point he does two things. First [x, aa] he shows what art is. Next [x, bb], at “But every art is concerned etc.,” he shows what the subject matter of art is. He makes the first point by induction. We see architecture as a kind of art, and also as a kind of habit for making something through reason. Likewise, every art is so constituted that it is a habit, concerned with making, under the guidance of reason. Likewise, no productive habit of this kind, i.e., directed by reason, is found which is not an art. Hence it is evident that art is the same as a habit concerned with making under the guidance of true reason.
1154. Next [x, bb], at “But every art,” he considers the subject matter of art. On this point he does three things. First [bb, a’] he proposes the subject matter of art. Second [bb, b’], at “Art, however, does not,” he shows from what things art differs according to its subject matter. Third [bb, c’], at “In some manner etc.,” he shows with what it agrees in subject matter. We should consider two things about the subject matter of art: the very operation of the craftsman which is directed by the art, and the product manufactured. Now, there is a threefold operation of art: the first is to consider how an artifact is to be produced; the second is to operate on the external matter; the third is to accomplish the work itself. For this reason he says that every art is concerned with the creation, or the achievement and completion of the work which he places as the end of art. It is concerned also with the artistic, i.e., with the operation of art that disposes the material, and with observing how a thing may be made by art.
1155. On the part of the work itself we should consider two things. The first of these is that the things that are made by art are contingent-can be or not be. This is evident from the fact that when they are made they begin to be in a new form. The second is that the principle of the creation of artistic works is in the craftsman alone, as it were, in something extrinsic to the artifact but is not in the thing made as something intrinsic to it.
1156. Then [bb, b’], at “Art, however, does not,” he explains what was just said (1154-1155), showing how art differs from three other areas of knowledge. First [b, A] in relation to the divine sciences and mathematics dealing with those things that exist or come into being by necessity; about these subjects there is no art.
1157. Next [b’, B], at “nor with things,” he shows the difference in relation to natural science which treats of those things that are according to nature, and about which there is no art. The things that are according to nature have the principle of motion in themselves, as was stated in the second book of the Physics (Ch. 1, 192 b 15; St. Th. Lect. 1, 142). This does not belong, to the works of art, as we just pointed out (1155).
1158. Third [b’, c], at “Since making,” he shows how art differs from prudence. He says that since action and making differ from one another, art is restricted to giving directions to making and not to action that prudence directs.
1159. At “In some manner” [bb, c’], he shows that with which art is in material agreement. He says that chance and art have to do with those things that are done by intellect: art in company with reason, and chance without reason. Agathon indicated this agreement when he said that art values chance and chance art, inasmuch as they agree in matter.
1160. Then [ii, y], at “Art then,” he considers art by comparison with its opposite. He says that as art—this was previously noted (1153)—is a certain habit concerned with making under the guidance of true reason, so atechnia or unskillfulness, on the contrary, is a habit concerned with making directed by incorrect reason regarding what is contingent.
I. HE SHOWS WHAT PRUDENCE IS.
A. He shows the nature of prudence.
A’ He shows who is prudent.
1. HE DETERMINES THE METHOD OF PROCEDURE. — 1161
Let us now investigate prudence in this way, considering who are called prudent.
2. HE SHOWS WHO ARE PRUDENT. — 1162
It seems to pertain to the prudent man that he can give good advice about proper goods useful not for one aspect of life—as an example, what are useful for health or bodily strength—but for the benefit of the total life of man.
3. HE MAKES KNOWN WHAT HE SAID, BY A SIGN. — 1163
A sign of this is that we call men prudent in a particular matter when they can rightly conclude what is useful for a determined good end in things that do not belong to art. Therefore, a man will be absolutely prudent who gives advice about the whole of life.
B’ He shows what prudence is.
1. HE GIVES THE DEFINITION.
a. He shows... the difference between prudence and other habits given above. — 1164-1165
But no one takes counsel about things that either are incapable of being in any other way or are not within his power. Therefore, let us consider that science comes about by demonstration, and a demonstration is not possible in things whose principles can be in some other way--otherwise all the conclusions could be different; also, that b counsel is not about matters which are necessarily so. Prudence then will be neither a science nor an art. It is not a science because the thing to be done is contingent; it is not an art because the genus of action and making differ.
b. He infers the definition of prudence. — 1166
It remains, therefore, that prudence is a genuine habit concerned with action under the guidance of reason, dealing with things good and bad for man.
c. He assigns the reason for a statement he has made. — 1167
Indeed the end of making is something other than itself. This is not always true in regard to action, for sometimes a good operation is its own end.
2. HE MAKES... KNOWN (THE DEFINITION OF PRUDENCE) BY SIGNS.
a. The first of these. — 1168
For this reason we think Pericles and others like him are prudent, because they can reckon what things are good both for themselves and others. We look upon stewards or dispensers of goods and statesmen or rulers of cities as men of this kind.
b. He presents the second sign.
Hence we call temperance by the name sophrosyne, as it were, a thing preserving prudence. Prudence does preserve an estimation of the kind mentioned, for while pleasure and pain do not distort or pervert all judgments (for example, that a triangle has or has not three angles equal to two right angles), they do affect those dealing with the practicable. The principles of practicable things are the ends for which they are done. But the principle is not clear to a man corrupted by pleasure or pain, nor does he see the obligation to choose and do everything for the sake of it and on account of it, for vice is corruptive of principle. Consequently, prudence is of necessity a habit concerned with action, under the direction of correct reason, regard-
B. He shows how it (prudence) differs from art.
A’ First... in art, a moral virtue regulating its use is required. — 1172
Nevertheless, virtue is required for art but not for prudence.
B’ He presents the second difference. — 1173
Likewise in art a man who makes a deliberate mistake is the more acceptable, but in prudence, as in the virtues, it is the reverse. It is clear, therefore, that prudence is a particular kind of virtue and not an art.
II. HE SHOWS WHAT ITS OBJECT IS. — 1174
But since there are two parts of the reasoning soul, prudence will be a virtue of the second part, viz., the estimative (opinativae), for opinion deals with the contingent as prudence does. Nevertheless, prudence is not a habit connected with reason alone, and a sign of this is that such a habit can be forgotten. But this is not true of prudence.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1161. After the Philosopher has finished his investigation of art, he begins now to investigate prudence. First [I] he shows what prudence is. Then [II], at “But since there are two parts etc.,” he shows what its object is. On the first point he does two things. First [A] he shows the nature of prudence. Next [B], at “Nevertheless, virtue etc,” he shows how it differs from art. On the initial point he does two things. First [A’] he shows who is prudent. Second [B’], at “But no one takes counsel etc.,” he shows what prudence is. On the first point he does three things. Initially [A’, 1] he determines the method of procedure, Saying that we must accept what prudence is from a consideration of people classed as prudent.
1162. Second [A’, 2 ], at “It seems to pertain,” he shows who are prudent. He says that it seems to pertain to the prudent man that he can, by the power of habit, give good advice about proper and useful goods, not only in some particular matter—for example, what things are useful for health or bodily strength—but also about things good and useful for the benefit of the total life of man.
1163. Last [A’, 3], at “A sign of this is etc.,” he gives a probative sign for his assertion. People are called prudent not absolutely but in a particular matter who can infer correctly what things are good or useful for some determined end. We suppose the end is good because to make deductions about things in reference to an evil end is contrary to prudence. We suppose likewise that there is question of things to which art does not apply because to conclude rightly in such matters (which are the concern of art) belongs not to prudence but to art. Therefore, if a man who is capable of giving good advice for a particular incident is presumed prudent in some matter, it follows that he will be absolutely prudent who gives good counsel about things touching the whole of life.
1164. Then [A, B’], at “But no one takes counsel” he shows what prudence is. First [B’, i] he gives the definition. Next [B’, 2], at “For this reason we think etc.,” he makes it known by signs. on the initial point he does three things. First [1, a] he shows in this context the difference between prudence and other habits given above (1142-1160), viz., science and art. Second [1, b], at “It remains etc.,” he infers the definition of prudence. Third [1, c], at “Indeed the end of making etc.,” he assigns the reason for a statement he has made. He remarks first that no one deliberates either about things that absolutely cannot be in any other way, or about things not within his power. Let us then take the things stated above (11148-1149), viz., that science comes about by demonstration, and again that a demonstration is not possible in matter whose principles can be in some other way, otherwise all the conclusions from those principles could be different. it is not possible that principles should be weaker than the inferences drawn from the principles. But let us now join to these observations what has just been said, viz., that counsel is not about matters that are necessarily so, and that prudence is concerned with things worthy of deliberation, since it was previously stated (1162, 1163) that the prudent man’s special function is to give good counsel. From all this it follows that prudence is neither a science nor an art.
1165. That it is not a science is evident from the fact that things to be done, about which counsel is given and prudence is concerned, are contingent; and there is no science about matters of this kind. But that it is not an art is evident because the genus of action and making are different. Consequently, prudence, which deals with action, differs from art, which deals with making.
1166. Next [i, b], at “It remains then,” he infers the definition of prudence from the premises. He says that, inasmuch as prudence is not a science (a habit of demonstration concerning necessary things) nor an art (a habit concerned with making under the guidance of reason), it follows that it is a habit dealing with action directed by genuine reason and is concerned not about things to be made—which are outside man—but about things good and bad for man himself.
1167. At “Indeed the end of making” [1, c] he assigns the reason for his statement (1166), that prudence is a habit dealing with action and concerned with things good and bad for man. Obviously the end of making is always something other than the making itself, as the end of building is a constructed edifice. Consequently, the good of making is not in the maker but in the thing made. So then art, which deals with making, is not concerned with the good and bad of man but with the good and bad of things wrought by art. But the end of action is not always something other than the action because sometimes eupraxia or good operation is its own end, i e., for itself, or even for the agent; this, however, is not always so. Nothing prevents one action from being ordered to another as an end, for example, the consideration of effects is ordered to a consideration of the cause, but the end of each is a good. Clearly then the good of action is in the agent himself. Hence prudence, which deals with action, is said to be concerned with the goods of man.
1168. Then [B’, 2], at “For this reason,” he gives two signs indicating the validity of the proposed definition. The first [2, a] of these is that, since prudence is concerned with things good and bad for man, therefore Pericles and others like him are thought to be prudent because they can consider what are the good things not only for themselves but also for others. Likewise, we think of stewards or dispensers of goods and of statesmen or governors of cities as men of this kind, viz., who can reckon good things for themselves and others.
1169. At “Hence we call” [ 2, b ] he presents the second sign. He says that because prudence is concerned with good and bad things to be done, for this reason temperance is called in Greek sophrosyne (as it were, a thing preserving the reason) from which prudence gets the name phronesis. But temperance, precisely as it moderates the pleasures and pains of touch, preserves an estimation of this kind, namely, concerned with things to be done that are good or bad for man. Likewise this is made clear from the converse, since pleasure and pain—which temperance moderates—do not altogether distort (nor pervert by bringing about the exact opposite) every estimation, for example, the speculative judgment whether a triangle has or has not three angles equal to two right angles. But pleasure and pain do distort and pervert estimations that have to do with the practicable.
1170. Subsequently, he shows how this distortion comes about. It is evident that the principles of practicable things are the ends for the sake of which the practicable are done; these are in practicable matters like principles in demonstrations, as is stated in the second book of the Physics (Ch. 9, 200 a 15b 10; St. Th. Lect. 15, 273-274). But to a man experiencing intense pleasure or pain that thing appears best by which he attains pleasure and avoids pain. So, when the judgment of his reason is distorted, a man does not see clearly the end which is the principle of prudence regarding the practicable, nor does he desire the end; likewise it does not seem to him necessary to choose and do everything on account of the true end but rather on account of pleasure. Every vice or bad habit distorts the principle inasmuch as it distorts the correct estimation of the end. However, this distortion is prevented to a great degree by temperance.
1171. Thus he comes to the conclusion from the foregoing signs that prudence is necessarily a habit of action with correct reason regarding the good of man.
1172. Next [B], at “Nevertheless, virtue,” he shows a twofold difference between art and prudence from the nature of virtue. The first [B, A’] is that in the art a moral virtue regulating its use is required, for it is possible for a man to have the use of art enabling him to build a good building but not will it because of some other vice. But moral virtue, for instance, justice, causes a craftsman rightly to use his art. On the other hand, in the use of prudence an additional moral virtue is not required, for it was said (1170) that the principles of prudence are ends in regard to which rectitude of judgment is preserved by the moral virtues. Hence prudence, which is concerned with things good for man, necessarily has joined with it the moral virtues preserving its principles. This is not true of art, which deals with external goods, but, after art is acquired, moral virtue is still necessary to regulate its use.
1173. He presents the second difference at “Likewise in art” [B, B’]. Obviously if a man deliberately makes a mistake in art, he is considered a better artist than if he does not do this of his own will, because then he would seem to act out of ignorance of his art. This is evident, in those who deliberately make grammatical errors in their speech. But in the case of prudence a man who willingly sins is less commended than one who sins against his will; the same is true of the moral virtues. This is true because for prudence there is required a rectitude of the appetitive faculty concerning the ends, in order that its principles be preserved. Thus it is clear that prudence is not an art consisting, as it were, only in the truth of reason, but a virtue requiring rectitude of the appetitive faculty after the manner of the moral virtues.
1174. Then [II], at “But since there are two parts,” he shows what the subject of prudence is. He says that since there are two parts of the rational soul—one of which is called scientific and the other estimative or conjectural (opinativum)—it is clear that prudence is a virtue of the second of these, viz., the conjectural. Opinion indeed deals with contingent things, as prudence does. Nevertheless, although prudence resides in this part of the reason as in a subject—because of this it is called an intellectual virtue—it is not connected with reason alone, as art or science, but it requires rectitude of the appetitive faculty. A sign of this is that a habit in the reason alone can be forgotten (for example, art and science), unless the habit is a natural one like understanding. Prudence, however, is not forgotten by disuse, but it is destroyed by the cessation of right desire which, while remaining, is continually engaged with the things belonging to prudence, so that oblivion cannot come along unawares.
Understanding, the Habit of First Principles; Wisdom
1. HE DISCUSSES UNDERSTANDING WHICH DEALS WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF DEMONSTRATION. — 1175-1179
Since science is an evaluation of universal and necessary truths, and since there are principles of demonstrable things and of every science (science is accompanied by demonstrative reason), the principle of the knowable is neither a science nor an art nor prudence. What is knowable is demonstrable, but these, viz., art and prudence, deal with contingent things. Likewise, wisdom does not treat these principles because it is the business of the man of wisdom to furnish demonstrations about some things. If intellectual habits are science, prudence, wisdom, and understanding—by which we have the truth and are never deceived about contingent or necessary things—and none of the three (viz., prudence, science, and wisdom) is concerned with those principles, it remains then that understanding treats them.
2. HE CONSIDERS WISDOM WHICH DEALS WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF BEING.
a. He shows what wisdom is.
i. He shows what wisdom, understood in a special sense, is called. — 1180
We attribute “wisdom” to the most certain arts; accordingly we call Phidias a wise sculptor, and Polycletus a wise statuary. Here then by wisdom we mean nothing more than the excellence of the art.
ii. He shows what wisdom in the unqualified sense is. — 1181
But we consider some men wise in an unqualified sense and not just in a particular area or in some other way, as Homer says in his Margites: “The gods made this man neither a miner nor a farmer, nor wise in any other particular way.” It is clear then that wisdom is the most perfect of the modes of knowledge.
b. He infers a corollary from what was said. — 1182-1183
Therefore, the wise man must not only know the conclusions drawn from the principles but he must declare the truth about the principles. Hence wisdom will be a combination of understanding and science.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1175. After the Philosopher has treated the intellectual virtues that perfect the intellect in respect to the things derived from principles, he will now consider the intellectual virtues perfecting the intellect in relation to the principles themselves. He does two things. First [i] he discusses understanding which deals with the principles of demonstration. Second , at “We attribute wisdom etc.,” he considers wisdom which deals with the principles of being. He shows first that, over and above the other intellectual virtues, there must be understanding concerning the principles of demonstration. Science is a certain evaluation of universals and things existing of necessity, for particulars and contingents cannot attain the certitude of science since they are only known insofar as they fall under the senses.
1176. In regard to the science of the things that are demonstrated, we must consider that there are some principles of the science itself necessarily dealing with demonstrable things. This is clear from the fact that science is founded on demonstrative reason proceeding from principles to conclusions. Since this is the casc with science, the principle of the science necessarily is neither a science, nor an art, nor prudence—which we have just discussed (1142-1174).
1177. Obviously it is not a science because the subject matter of science is demonstrable. But the first principles of demonstrations are indemonstrable, otherwise we would proceed to infinity. That art and prudence have nothing to do with these principles is evident from the fact that these two virtues deal with contingent things. This cannot be said of the principles of demonstration, for principles must be more certain than necessary conclusions. Likewise it is clear that wisdom, another intellectual virtue which we will discuss subsequently (1180-1181), does not treat these principles. The reason is that it pertains to the wise man to frame a demonstration about some things, viz., the ultimate causes of being. But principles are indemonstrable, as has been said (1148).
1178. If then the intellectual virtues—about which we so truly say that falsehood never underlies them whether concerned with necessary or contingent things—are these habits: science, prudence (under which he includes art which also has to do with what is contingent), and besides, wisdom and understanding, it remains that understanding treats these principles since none of the three, prudence, wisdom, or science, can be concerned with indemonstrable principles, as is clear from the foregoing.
1179. Understanding is not taken here for the intellect itself but for a particular habit by which a man, in virtue of the light of the active intellect, naturally knows indemonstrable principles. The name is suitable enough, for principles of this kind are immediately understood from a knowledge of their terms. Once we know what a whole and what a part is, we grasp immediately that every whole is greater than its part. It is called understanding (intellectus) because it reads (legit) within, observing the essence of a thing. Hence his third book De Anima (Ch. 4, 429 b 5-23; St. Th, Lect. 8, 700-719) says that the proper object of the intellect is the essence of a thing. So the knowledge of principles, which immediately become known when the essence of the thing is understood, is suitably called “intellect” or understanding (intellectus).
1180. Next , at “We attribute wisdom,” he considers wisdom. First [a] he shows what wisdom is. Then [b], at “Therefore, the wise man etc.,” he infers a corollary from what was said. On the initial point he does two things. First. [i] he shows what wisdom, understood in a special sense, is called. Second [ii], at “But we consider some etc.,” he shows what wisdom in the unqualified sense is. He says first that in the arts we attribute the name wisdom to the most certain ones—those which, knowing the ultimate causes in some category of handicraft, direct other arts concerned with the same category, for example, an architectonic art directs technical workers. In this way we say Phidias was a wise sculptor and Polycletus a wise statuary, i.e., a carver of statues. Here we call wisdom nothing other than the excellence of the art (i.e., its ultimate perfection) by which a man attains what is ultimate and most perfect in the art. In this the excellence of each thing consists, as was pointed out in the first book De Coelo (Ch. 11, 281 a 7-15; St. Th. Lect. 25, 248-249).
1181. Then [ii], at “But we consider,” he shows what wisdom in the unqualified sense is. He says that, as we consider some men wise in a particular handicraft, so too we consider others completely wise, i.e., with regard to the whole category of beings and not just a part of them, even though they are not wise in a particular handicraft. Thus Homer remarks that the gods did not make a certain man a miner or a farmer, nor make him gifted in any craft but simply made him wise. Hence it is clear that, as the man who is wise in some handicraft is most sure in that art, so that knowledge which is wisdom in an unqualified sense is the most certain of all modes of knowledge inasmuch as it treats first principles of being—in themselves most known, although some of them, the immaterial, are less known in regard to us. But the most universal principles are also more known in regard to us, for example, those belonging to being as being—the knowledge of which pertains to wisdom taken in this sense, as is evident in the fourth book of the Metaphysics (Ch. 1, 1003 a 21-22; St. Th. Lect. 1, 529-530).
1182. At “Therefore, the wise man” [b] he infers a corollary from this: because wisdom is most certain and the principles of demonstrations more certain than the conclusions, the wise man should not only know the things inferred in the matter that he is considering but he should also declare the truth about first principles themselves not to prove them but to explain common notions, e.g., whole and part, equal and unequal, and suchlike-a function proper to a philosopher. When these common notions are known, the principles of demonstrations are clear. Hence the concern of such a man is to argue against those denying principles, as is evident in the fourth book of the Metaphysics (Ch. 3, 1005 a 19-b 8; St. Th. Lect. 5, 588-595).
1183. Finally, he draws a further conclusion that wisdom, in declaring the truth about principles, is understanding; but in knowing the things inferred from the principles, it is science. However, wisdom is distinguished from science, taken in the usual sense, by reason of the eminence which it has among other sciences; it is a kind of perfection of all sciences.
Wisdom, the Principal Intellectual Virtue
I. HE SHOWS WHICH (VIRTUE) IS ABSOLUTELY PRINCIPAL.
A. He shows that wisdom is principal among all...
A’ He proposes what he intends. — 1184
As having supremacy it is the science of the most honorable things,
B’ He rejects the opposite error.
1. HE REJECTS THIS ERROR (FOR... TWO REASONS).
a. It is unreasonable... to consider political science or prudence... the best of the sciences. — 1185-1186
for it is unreasonable to consider political science or prudence the best of the sciences if man is not the most excellent thing in the world.
b. He gives the second reason. — 1187-1188
What is healthful and what is good for men and fishes are different, but white and straight are always the same; and everyone would say that in godlike things what is wise is always the same. However, what is prudent may be different, for the man who can properly consider individual things pertaining to himself is called prudent and we entrust such matters to him. For this reason people call prudent all dumb animals who seem to have the ability to care for themselves. It will certainly be evident then that wisdom is not 30 the same as political science. If people call wisdom that science dealing with things useful to themselves, there will be many kinds of wisdom, for there is not one consideration regarding the good of all animals but there is a different consideration for individual animals. Likewise there is not one medicine for all beings.
2. HE DISMISSES A CERTAIN OBJECTION. — 1189
That man is the most excellent of all animals makes no difference, because there are other creatures more divine by their nature, for instance, the very evident things that constitute the universe.
C’ He infers the truth. — 1190
From what has been said it is obvious that wisdom is both science and understanding about the things most honorable by their nature.
B. He infers a corollary from the premises.
A’ He introduces the corollary. — 1191-1193
For this reason people say Anaxagoras and Thales, and others like them, are wise but not prudent: men, seeing them ignorant of what is useful to themselves, assert they know superfluous and wonderful things both difficult and divine, but that this knowledge is useless because they do, not seek human goods.
Prudence has to do with human goods about which we deliberate, for skillful deliberation seems to be the special work of the prudent man. But no one deliberates about things that cannot be in any other way, nor about whatsoever is not ordered to some end -and this a practicable good. Moreover, that man is a good counsellor absolutely speaking who can conjecture, by reasoning what is best for man to do.
B’ He manifests one aspect of it (the corollary). — 1194
Prudence not only considers universals but must also know singulars, for it is active, and action is concerned with singulars. Hence some men not informed scientifically but expert in different particulars are more effective than other men with scientific knowledge. Certainly, if a doctor knows that light meats are easily digestible and healthful but does not know what meats are light, lie will not make people the flesh well. But if he knows that the flesh of fowls is light and healthful he will be better able to effect a cure. Since prudence is concerned with action, therefore, it must have both kinds (of knowledge) but especially the latter (of particulars).
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1184. After the Philosopher has defined the individual intellectual virtues, he now explains the principal one among them. First [I] he shows which is absolutely principal. Then [Lect. 7], at “But there will be etc.” (B. 1141 b 22), he shows which is principal in the, genus of the practicable in reference to man. On the first point he does two things. First [A] he shows that wisdom is principal among all without qualification. Next [B], at “For this reason etc.,” he infers a corollary from the premises, clarifying what has been said, by a sign. On the initial point he does three things. First [A, A’] he proposes what he intends. Then [A, B’], at “for it is unreasonable etc.,” he rejects the opposite error. Last [A, C’], at “From what has been said etc.,” he infers the truth. He says first that wisdom is not science of any sort whatever but the science of the most honorable and divine things, inasmuch as it has the essential elements to be head of all sciences. As the senses located in the head direct the movements and operations of all the other members, so wisdom directs all the other sciences since they take their principles from it.
1185. Then [A, B’], at “for it is unreasonable,” he rejects the error of certain philosophers who, considering usefulness rather than the dignity of science, assign primacy of the sciences to political science by which the multitude is governed, or to prudence by which a man governs himself. As was pointed out in the beginning of the Metaphysics (Bk. 1, Ch. 1, 981 b 13-25; St. Th. Lect. 1, 31-33), the speculative sciences are not sought as useful for some further end but simply as honorable in themselves. Hence he does two things on this point. First  he rejects this error. Next , at “That man etc.,” he dismisses an objection raised. For the first statement he gives two reasons.
1186. Concerning the first of these he says that [a] it is unreasonable for a man to consider political science or prudence the most desirable science, i.e., the best of the sciences. This could not be unless man were the most excellent of all things in the world, for one science is better and more honorable than another because it deals with better and more honorable subjects-as is said in the first book De Anima (Ch. 1, 402 a 1-5; St. Th. Lect. 1, 4-5). But it is false to say that man is the most excellent thing in the world. Consequently, neither political science nor prudence—both dealing with human affairs—are the best among the sciences.
1187. At “What is healthful etc.” [b] he gives the second reason. It arises from this, that there are certain things whose prime characteristic consists in a proportion and relation to another. For this reason such things cannot be the same in reference to all objects. Thus it is clear that what is healthful and what is good are not identical for men and fishes. But other things are predicated without limitation, for example, white of colors and straight of figures. Because wisdom is one of the things which are such simply and in themselves (it is numbered among the primary entities), everyone must say that what is wise is the same in all things and that wisdom is the same without qualification in relation to everything. But what is prudent must be a thing that may be different in different subjects, because prudence is predicated according to a proportion and a relation to something. The man who can properly consider each thing pertaining to him is said to be prudent and to such a one we grant or attribute prudence. Hence by a kind of analogy men say that certain dumb animals are prudent, viz., those that seem to be able to care for themselves, not however by means of reason which properly belongs to prudence. So then it is evident that wisdom, which is a particular virtue, is not the same as political science.
1188. If we would hold that a science such as politics, which deals with useful things, was wisdom—the chief of all the sciences—it would follow that there would be many kinds of wisdom. Certainly there cannot be one identical formality in the things which are good for all animals, but a different consideration must be accorded to individual animals, taking into account what is good for each. A similar reason holds for medicine that cannot be the same for all. It was just said (1187) that what is healthful and what is good differ for men and fishes. But there must be only one wisdom because its function is to consider things which are common to all entities. So it remains that political science, which governs a human multitude, cannot be wisdom without qualification; much less can ordinary prudence which governs one man.
1189. Then , at “That man’ “ he answers a certain objection. Someone could say that political science or (practical) prudence, treating as it does of human affairs, is the principal science because man is more excellent than other animals. But this has no relevance to our proposition because certain other things are by their nature more divine than man by reason of their excellence. And—as we may not treat of God and separated substances, for they do not come under the senses—even the objects most evident to the senses and constituting the universe, namely, the heavenly bodies, are better than men. This is so whether we compare body to body, or the moving substances to the human soul.
1190. Next [A, C’], at “From what has been said,” he infers the truth, viz., that wisdom is science and understanding—as was previously pointed out [1183)—not of all possible things but of the most honorable. This is evident from the preceding, because if any science was more honorable it would be especially political science or prudence, and this view has just been rejected (1186-1188).
1191. At “For this reason” [B] he infers from the premises a corollary by which some things previously discussed are clarified. On this point he does two things. First [B, A’] he introduces the corollary. Then [B, B’], at “Prudence not only considers etc.,” he manifests one aspect of it. He says first that, because prudence deals with the goods of man, but wisdom with the things that are better than man, accordingly people call Anaxagoras and Thales the philosopher—and others like them—wise but not prudent. This is because men see these philosophers ignorant of things useful to themselves, but admit they know useless truths that are wonderful (is it were exceeding the common knowledge of mortals), difficult (needing careful investigation), and divine by reason of their exalted character.
1192. He gives in particular the example of Thales and Anaxagoras because they are especially censured on this point. When Thales was leaving his house to look at the stars he fell into a ditch; while he was bewailing the fact an old woman remarked to him: “You, O Thales, cannot see what is at your feet and you expect to see what is in the heavens?” And Anaxagoras, though noble and wealthy, left his family possessions to his relatives and devoted himself to the investigation of natural phenomena; taking no interest in civic affairs, he was consequently blamed for his negligence. When someone asked him: “Do you not care about your country?” He answered: “I will have great concern for my country after I have explained the heavens.”
1193. Therefore people say they know useless things, since they do not seek human goods; on this account, too, they are not called prudent, for prudence deals with human goods about which we deliberate. Now, to deliberate well seems to be the special work of the prudent man. But no one deliberates about necessary things which cannot possibly be in any other way; and the divine things, which these wise men consider, are necessary. Likewise deliberation is not possible about things in general that are not ordered to some end, i.e., to a practicable good—things that the speculative sciences consider, even when they treat what is corruptible. That man is a good counsellor without qualification, and consequently prudent, who can conjecture by reasoning what is best for man to do.
1194. Then [B, B’], at “Prudence not only considers,” he makes clear something he had said, assigning the reason why the prudent man is concerned about practicable things. Prudence not only considers universals, in which action does not occur, but must know singulars because it is active, i.e., a principle of doing. But action has to do with singulars. Hence it is that certain people not possessing the knowledge of universals are more effective about some particulars than those who have universal knowledge, from the fact that they are expert in other particulars. Thus if a doctor knows that light meats are easily digestible and healthful but does not know which meats are light, he cannot help people to get well. But the man who knows that the flesh of fowls is light and healthful is better able to effect a cure. Since then prudence is reason concerning an action, the prudent person must have a knowledge of both kinds, viz., universals and particulars. But if it is possible for him to have one kind, he ought rather to have the latter, i.e., the knowledge of particulars that are closer to operation.
Prudence, the Principal Virtue in Human Affairs
II. HE NOW SHOWS WHAT IS PRIMARY IN HUMAN AFFAIRS.
A. He explains his proposition.
1. HE PROPOSES HIS OBJECTIVE. — 1195
But there will be a certain architectonic knowledge even here.
2. HE MAKES KNOWN HIS PROPOSITION.
a. He distinguishes civic prudence from prudence as such. — 1196
However, civic prudence and prudence as such are really the same habit although they differ from one another.
b. He defines civic prudence. — 1197-1198
One part of the habit dealing with the whole state is as it were architectonic prudence and is denominated legislative; the other part concerned with individual practicables goes by the general name of civic prudence. The latter is operative and deliberative, for a decree has to do with the practicable as a singular ultimate. Hence only those with civic prudence are said to be engaged in civic affairs because they alone are active like manual workers.
c. He defines prudence.
i. He shows what should be called prudence. — 1199-1201
But that which is concerned with oneself seems to be prudence in a special way. This retains the general name, prudence; but of the others, one is called domestic, another legislative, and a third executive. Each of these is divided into consultative and judicial.
ii. He infers a corollary. — 1202
Therefore, to know what is to one’s advantage is a certain kind of human knowledge differing much from other human knowledge.
3. HE REJECTS AN ERROR.
a. He presents it. — 1203
Moreover, that man seems to be prudent who knows and diligently cultivates the things pertaining to himself, but public officials seem to be busy about many affairs.
b. He gives proof for it.
i. First. — 1204
For this reason Euripides says: “How could I be prudent—I who have neglected to take care of myself and now share equally with many others in military service?”
ii. He proposes a reason for this notion. — 1205
They (public officials) seem to be intent on superfluous things and to do more than is necessary. But men generally seek what is good for themselves and think they must work to secure it. Hence in this opinion only such men are prudent.
c. He excludes the error. — 1206-1207
It may be, though, that the individual’s good cannot be attained without domestic prudence or civic virtue. But still it is not evident how the things pertaining to him are to be disposed, and this must be given attention.
B. He makes known something that he had stated above.
1. HE EXPLAINS HIS PROPOSITION.
a. He offers two reasons.... The first.
i. He gives a confirmation of the proposition. — 1208
In evidence of this it may be noted that youths become geometricians and scientists and are learned in studies of this kind, yet do not seem to become prudent. The reason is that prudence deals with particulars that are known by experience. But a young man does not have experience, which requires a great deal of time.
ii. He brings up a particular question. — 1209-1211
Here someone may ask why a boy can become a mathematician but not a philosopher or a scientist. The reason is that the truths (belonging to mathematics) are known by abstraction but the principles (of nature) are learned by experience. Then too these things (pertaining to wisdom) are mouthed but not grasped by youths while the nature of mathematics is not obscure to them.
b. He gives the second reason. — 1212
Moreover, error in deliberating can happen either regarding a universal or a particular proposition, because a man can err, for example, about all sluggish waters being unhealthy or about this water being sluggish.
2. HE COMPARES PRUDENCE WITH SCIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING.
a. First, with science. — 1213
It is plain that prudence is not science because prudence deals with a singular ultimate, as was pointed out, and the practicable is of this nature.
b. Next, with understanding.
i. He shows the agreement. — 1214-1215
They (science and prudence) have some agreement with understanding. Understanding indeed concerns those principles requiring no proof. But prudence deals with a singular ultimate, an object not of scientific knowledge but of a kind of sense—not that by which we perceive proper sensibles—but the sense whereby in mathematics we perceive the external triangle (to which we conform our reasoning). This, however, is perception rather than prudence although it is another kind of perception.
ii. He shows the difference. — 1216
But inquiry and deliberation differ, for deliberation is a kind of inquiry.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1195. After the Philosopher has shown what is absolutely primary among all the intellectual virtues, he now [II] shows what is primary in human affairs. First [A] he explains his proposition. Then [B], at “In evidence of this etc.,” he makes known something that he had stated above. On the initial point he does three things. First [A, 1], he proposes his objective. Next [A, 2], at “However, civic prudence etc.,” he makes known his proposition. Finally [A, 3], at “Moreover, that man etc.,” he rejects an error. He says first that although wisdom, which is absolutely primary, does not consist in the knowledge of human things, nevertheless there is a certain architectonic (i.e., guiding and governing) reason or knowledge here, viz., in the order of human affairs.
1196. Then [A, 2], at “However, civic prudence,” he makes known his proposition, distinguishing the things which pertain to a knowledge of human affairs. First [2, a] he distinguishes civic prudence from prudence as such. Next [2, b], at “One part of the habit etc.,” he defines civic prudence. Last [2, c], at “But that which is etc.,” he defines prudence. He says then that prudence and civic prudence are substantially the same habit because each is a right plan of things to be done about what is good or bad for man. But they differ specifically (secundum rationem), for prudence as such is the right plan of things to be done in the light of what is good or bad for one man, that is I oneself. Civic prudence, however, deals with things good or bad for the whole civic multitude. Consequently, civic prudence is to prudence simply as legal justice to virtue, as was indicated heretofore in the fifth book (906-910). When the extremes have been stated, we see the median, i.e., the prudence of the household, which holds a middle place between that regulating one man and the state.
1197. Next [2, b], at “One part of the habit,” he defines civic prudence. He divides it into two parts, noting that one part of the habit dealing with the whole state is, so to speak, architectonic or legislative prudence. The name architectonic derives from its role, to determine for others what is to be done. Hence rulers imposing a law are in civic matters as architects regarding things to be built. Because of this, positive law itself (that is, right reason according to which rulers frame just laws) is called architectonic prudence. But the other part of civic prudence, namely, that which is concerned with individual operable things, goes by the general name, civic prudence. In fact, the laws are compared to works of man as universals to particulars, as the fifth book stated about legally just things (902-903). Likewise, as legislative prudence gives the precept, so also civic prudence puts it in effect and conserves the norms stated in the law.
1198. Obviously it belongs to executive civil prudence to frame a decree that is simply the application of universal reason to a particular practicable, for it is called a decree only in regard to some practicable. Moreover, since every practicable is individual, it follows that a decree concerns some singular ultimate, i.e., an individual norm or precept—it is called an ultimate because our knowledge begins from it, proceeding to universals, and terminates at the ultimate itself by way of descent. Likewise the decree itself can be called ultimate because it is the application of a law, universally stated, to an individual practicable. Because this executive prudence of positive law retains for itself the general name of civic prudence, it follows that only those who see to the execution of the enacted laws are said to be engaged in civil affairs since they alone are active among the people like chirotechnae, i.e., manual workers in things to be built; and legislators bear the same relation to them as do architects to those who execute their plans.
1199. At “But that which is” [2, C] he treats prudence. First [c, i] he shows what should be called prudence. Then [c, ii], at “Therefore, to know etc.,” he infers a corollary from what has been said. He says first that although civic prudence, both legislative and executive, is prudence, nevertheless, that which is concerned with one person only, oneself, seems to be especially prudence. And reason of this type directive of oneself retains the general name prudence, since the other parts of prudence are qualified by particular names. One of these is called domestic, that is, the prudence that administers a household. Another is called legislative, that is, the prudence in making laws. Still another is civic, that is, the prudence in executing the laws. Each of these is divided into consultative and judicial; for in things to be done we must first investigate something by the inquiry of counsel, then judge the feasibility of the thing investigated.
1200. As has been noted previously (1174), we must consider that prudence is not only in the reason but has a function likewise in the appetitive faculty. Therefore, everything mentioned here is a species of prudence, to the extent that it does not reside in the reason alone but has ramifications in the appetitive faculty. Inasmuch as they are exclusively in the reason they are called certain kinds of practical science, viz., domestic ethics and political science.
1201. Likewise, we must consider that, because the whole is more important than the part, and consequently the city than the household and the household than one man, civic prudence must be more important than domestic and the latter more important than personal prudence. Moreover, legislative prudence has greater importance among the parts of civic prudence, and without qualification is absolutely principal about actions which man must perform.
1202. Then [c, ii], at “Therefore, to know,” he infers a corollary from what has been discussed. He says that, because individual prudence is a part of general prudence, it follows that to know the things good for oneself—which belongs to this prudence—is a particular kind of human knowledge unlike others by reason of the diverse things pertaining to one man.
1203. Next [A, 3], at “Moreover, that man,” he rejects an error. First [3, a] he presents it. Then [3, b], at “For this reason,” he gives a proof for it. Last [3, c], at “It may be, though etc.,” he excludes the error by disproving it. He says first that, to some people, only that man seems prudent who knows and diligently cultivates the things having to do with himself. However, those who are public officials do not seem to be prudent but rather polipragmones, i.e., busy with a variety of affairs pertaining to the multitude.
1204. At “For this reason” [3, b] he gives a proof of the foregoing error. He does this first [3, b, i] by a statement of Euripides the poet who has one of his characters, a soldier fighting for his country, say: “How could I be prudent when I have neglected to take care of myself, i.e., I did not attend to my own affairs but, one of many, I am sharing military service equally with them.”
1205. Then [3, b, ii], at “They (public officials),” he proposes a reason for this notion. He says that some people affirm that public officials are not prudent, since they are intent on superfluous or vain things and are doing something more than their individual concern. Because of the inordinateness of their hidden self-love, men seek only what is good for themselves; and they are concerned that each one must do only what is good for himself. From this opinion of theirs it follows that, for some men, only those are prudent who are intent on their own affairs.
1206. Next [3, c], at “It may be, though,” he rejects this error. He says that the particular good of each individual person cannot be attained without domestic prudence, i.e., without the proper administration of the household, nor without civic virtue, i.e., without the proper administration of the state, just as the good of the part cannot be attained without the good of the whole. Hence it is evident that statesmen and household stewards are not intent on anything superfluous but on what pertains to themselves.
1207. Nevertheless, civic and domestic prudcnce are not sufficient without personal prudence. The reason is that when the state and the household have been properly arranged, it is still not evident how one’s own personal affairs must be disposed. Therefore, it is necessary to attend to this by the prudence dealing with an individual’s good.
1208. At “In evidence of this” [B] he clarifies a previous assertion (1194): that prudence is not only concerned with universals but also with particulars. On this point he does two things. First [ B, i ] he explains his proposition. Next [B, 2], at “It is plain that prudence,” he compares prudence with science and understanding. For the initial point he offers two reasons. In regard to the first [B, 1, a] he does two things. First [a, i] he gives a confirmation of the proposition. Then [a, ii], at “Here someone etc.,” he brings up a particular question on this heading. He states first that a sign of the previous assertion (1194), that prudence is concerned not only with universals but also particulars, is that youths become geometricians and scientists, i.e., learned in the speculative sciences and in mathematics; they are erudite in studies of this kind, and attain perfection in these sciences. However, it does not seem that a youth can become prudent. The reason is that prudence deals with particulars which are made known to us by experience. But a lad does not have experience because much time is needed to get experience.
1209. Then [a, ii], at “Here someone,” he raises a question about why a boy can become a mathematician but cannot become wise, i.e., a metaphysician or natural philosopher. To this the Philosopher answers that the principles of mathematics are known by abstraction from sensible objects (whose understanding requires experience); for this reason little time is needed to grasp them. But the principles of nature, which are not separated from sensible objects, are studied via experience. For this much time is needed.
1210. As to wisdom, he adds that youths do not believe, i.e., grasp, although they mouth, things pertaining to wisdom or metaphysics. But the nature of mathematics is not obscure to them because mathematical proofs concern sensibly conceivable objects while things pertaining to wisdom are purely rational. Youths can easily understand whatever falls under imagination, but they do not grasp things exceeding sense and imagination; for their minds are not trained to such considerations both because of the shortness of their lives and the many physical changes they are undergoing.
1211. Therefore, the proper order of learning is that boys first be instructed in things pertaining to logic because logic teaches the method of the whole of philosophy. Next, they should be instructed in mathematics, which does not need experience and does not exceed the imagination. Third, in natural sciences, which, even though not exceeding sense and imagination, nevertheless require experience. Fourth, in the moral sciences, which require experience and a soul free from passions, as was noted in the first book (38-40). Fifth, in the sapiential and divine sciences, which exceed imagination and require a sharp mind.
1212. He gives the second reason at “Moreover” [B, i, b]. It was said (1164) that the work of prudence is to deliberate well. But in deliberating a twofold error can happen. One concerns the universal, e.g., whether it is true that all sluggish waters are unhealthy. The other concerns the particular, e.g., whether this water is sluggish. Therefore, prudence must give direction in regard to both universals and particulars.
1213. Then [B, 2], at “It is plain that prudence,” he compares prudence with the things mentioned above: first, with science [B, 2, a] and next, with understanding at “They (science and prudence) etc.” [B, 2, b]. He says first, it is evident from the premises that prudence is not science, for science has to do with universals, as was stated before (1145-1175). But prudence deals with a singular ultimate, viz., the particular, since it is of the nature of the practicable to be particular. So it is clear that prudence is not science.
1214. Next [B, 2, b], at “They (science and prudence),” he compares prudence with understanding. First [B, 2, b, i] he shows the agreement. Second [B, 2, b, ii], at “But inquiry and deliberation,” he shows the difference. He says first that both science and prudence are receptive of, or in contact with (according to another text), understanding, i.e., have some agreement with it as a habit of principles. It was previously pointed out (1175-1179) that understanding concerns certain principles or ultimates, that is, indemonstrable principles for which there is no proof, because they cannot be established by reason but immediately become known by themselves. But prudence is concerned with an ultimate, i.e., a singular practicable that must be taken as a principle in things to be done. Yet there is no scientific knowledge of the singular ultimate, for it is not proved by reason; there is, though, sensitive knowledge of it because this ultimate is perceived by one of the senses. However, it is not apprehended by that sense which perceives the species of proper sensibles (for instance, color, sound, and so on—this is the proper sense) but by the inner sense which perceives things sensibly conceivable. Similarly, in mathematics we know the exterior triangle, or the triangle conceived as singular, because there we also conform to a sensibly conceivable singular, as in the natural sciences we conform to a sensible singular.
1215. Prudence, which perfects particular reason rightly to judge singular practicable relations, pertains rather to this, i.e., the inner sense. Hence even dumb animals who are endowed with an excellent natural estimative power are said to be prudent. But that sense which is concerned with proper sensibles has a certain other perfecting quality, viz., a skill in discerning shades of color or taste and the like. So prudence agrees with understanding in this that it deals with an ultimate.
1216. Then [B, 2, b, ii], at “But inquiry and deliberation,” he shows the difference between prudence and understanding. Understanding is not given to inquiring, but prudence is, because it is deliberative. To deliberate and to inquire differ as proper and common, for deliberation is a kind of inquiry—as was said in the third book (473, 476, 482).
Eubulia (Excellence in Deliberating)
I. HE DEFINES (CERTAIN VIRTUES CONNECTED WITH PRUDENCE) INDIVIDUALLY.
A. He investigates the genus of eubulia.
1. HE EXAMINES THE GENUS OF eubulia, SHOWING THAT IT IS A KIND OF RECTITUDE.
a. He explains his intention. — 1217
Now we must consider the nature of eubulia. Is it science, or opinion, or eustochia (the virtue of conjecturing well in practical matters), or does it belong to some other genus?
b. He carries it out.
i. He shows where (eubulia) does not belong.
x. HE SHOWS THAT eubulia IS NOT SCIENCE. — 1218
Certainly it is not science, for men do not inquire about things they already know. But eubulia is a kind of counsel that is given to inquiry and discursive thinking.
y. HE SHOWS THAT IT IS NOT eustochia (FOR TWO REASONS).
aa. The first (reason). — 1219
However, it is not eustochia because eustochia exists without the inquiry of reason and is instantaneous, while eubulia requires much time for those who deliberate. As the proverb goes: Be slow to come to a decision; but when you have decided, act quickly.
bb. The second reason. — 1220
Furthermore, quickness of mind and eubulia differ, for the former is a kind of eustochia.
z. HE SHOWS THAT IT IS NOT OPINION. — 1221
Nor is eubulia opinion in any sense whatever.
ii. He determines its genus. — 1222
But because the man errs who deliberates badly and the man who deliberates well does so rightly, it is evident that eubulia is a kind of rectitude,
2. HE SHOWS TO WHAT RECTITUDE IS LINKED.
a. He shows whence it does not arise.
i. He proposes what he intends. — 1223
although not pertaining to either science or opinion,
ii. He establishes his proposition.
x. IN REGARD TO SCIENCE. — 1224
for rectitude, like error, is not applicable to science,
y. IN REGARD TO OPINION, BY TWO ARGUMENTS.
aa. The first (argument). — 1225
while truth is the rectitude of opinion.
bb. The second argument. — 1226
Likewise, everything that is a matter of opinion has already been determined. Nevertheless eubulia is not without discursive knowledge, and so differs from opinion; it is not at all a declaration. And opinion is not an inquiry but a sort of declaration already made. However, the man who deliberates, well or badly, inquires and thinks discursively about a subject.
b. (He shows) whence it does arise. — 1227
But eubulia is a certain rectitude of deliberation. Therefore, we must inquire what deliberation is and about what it is concerned.
3. HE SHOWS WHAT KIND OF RECTITUDE HE IS DISCUSSING (BY DETERMINING FOUR CONDITIONS OF EUBULIA).
a. He says first that rectitude is used in various senses. — 1228-1229
Obviously, rectitude is taken in various senses because not every rectitude is eubulia. Indeed the incontinent and evil man will acquire by reasoning what he sets out to know. Wherefore one who keeps in view even some great evil will be said to deliberate rightly. But to deliberate well seems to be a good. And this rectitude of deliberation by which someone obtains a good end is eubulia.
b. The second condition. — 1230-1231
But it is possible sometimes to determine this even by a false syllogism, so that we arrive at what we ought to do but not by the means we ought—the middle term being false. Therefore that, by which we attain what we ought but not in the way we ought, is not eubulia in the full sense.
c. The third condition. — 1232
Besides, it happens that one man deliberates too slowly but another too quickly. Hence genuine eubulia is found not in these exaggerations but in rectitude, which acts according to what is useful and proper in regard to the end, the manner, and the time.
d. The fourth condition. — 1233-1234
Again, one person may deliberate well in the unqualified sense and another may simply concern himself about a particular end. Therefore eubulia without qualification will be that which directs deliberations in relation to an absolute end; but eubulia in a limited sense, that which directs deliberations in relation to a particular end. If indeed to deliberate well belongs to prudent people, eubulia will be rectitude conducing to that end about which prudence gives the true evaluation.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1217. After the Philosopher has defined prudence and the other principal intellectual virtues, he now investigates certain virtues connected with prudence. First [I] he defines them individually, each in itself. Then [Lect. 9, II], at “All the preceding habits tend etc.” (B.1143 a 25), he compares them with one another and with prudence. On the first point he does three things. First [A] he investigates the genus of eubulia. Next [Lect. 9, B], at “Nor is synesis etc.” (B.1142 b 34), he investigates synesis. Last [Lect. 9, C], at “The virtue called gnome etc.” (B.1143 a 19), he investigates gnome. Regarding the initial point he does three things. First [A, 1] he examines the genus of eubulia, showing that it is a kind of rectitude. Then [A, 2], at “although not etc.,” he shows to what rectitude is linked. Last [A, 3], at “Obviously, rectitude etc.,” he shows what kind of rectitude he is discussing. On the first point he does two things. First [1, a], he explains his intention. Next [1, b], at “Certainly it is not etc.,” he carries it out. He says first that, after the tract on the principal intellectual virtues (1142-1216), he must treat the nature of eubulia (excellent deliberation) in order to have a complete knowledge of these virtues. Is it a kind of science, or at least opinion, or even eustochia —shrewd conjecturing? Or in what other genus is it?
1218. Then [1, b], at “Certainly it is not,” he shows what the genus of eubulia is. First [b, i] he shows where it does not belong. Next [b, ii], at “But because the man etc.,” he determines its genus. On the first point he does three things. First [i, x] he shows that eubulia is not science. Then [i, y], at “However, it is not etc.,” he shows that it is not eustochia. Last [i, z], at “Nor is eubulia etc.,” he shows that it is not opinion. He says first that eubulia is not science. This is clear from the fact that men already possessing science do not inquire about those things which they know, but have certain knowledge about them. But eubulia being a kind of deliberation is joined with some sort of inquiry, for the man who deliberates inquires and thinks discursively. But discursive knowledge is attained at the end of an inquiry. Therefore eubulia is not science.
1219. At “However, is it not” [i, y] he shows that eubulia is not eustochia, for two reasons. The first is this [y, aa]. Eustochia or happy conjecture exists without the inquiry of reason and is instantaneous. It is innate in some men, who, by reason of acuteness of powers, richness of imagination and sensitivity of the external senses, come to a prompt judgment based on intellect or sense whereby they correctly evaluate a situation. Wide experience also develops this. And these two things are lacking in eubulia, which is associated with the inquiry of reason, as was just mentioned (1218). Besides, eubulia is not instantaneous but rather takes time for those who deliberate so they may thoroughly explore everything touching the subject. Hence too the proverb saying that the matters of counsel ought to be carried out quickly but deliberated slowly. So, obviously, eubulia is not eustochia.
1220. At “Furthermore, quickness etc. [y, bb] he gives the second reason. If eubulia was identical with eustochia, then whatever was contained under eubulia would be contained under eustochia. But quickness of mind is a certain kind of eustochia; it is a rapid conjecture about finding a means. However, quickness of mind differs from eubulia since eubulia is not concerned with the end which in practical matters holds the place of the middle term in syllogisms, for counsel is not taken about the end, as was indicated in the third book (473-474). Therefore eubulia is not the same as eustochia.
1221. Next [i, z], at “Nor is eubulia,” he shows that eubulia is not opinion in such a way that not only is not every opinion eubulia but neither is any opinion eubulia. This is evident for the same reason stated previously (1145, 1165) about science, for although a man who holds an opinion is not certain, nevertheless he has already limited himself to one viewpoint-something that is not true of a man deliberating.
1222. Then [b, ii], at “But because the man,” he shows what is the real genus of eubulia from the fact that the man who deliberates badly is said to err in deliberating, but the man who deliberates well is said to deliberate rightly. The latter is eubuleos (i.e., correct in deliberation). Hence it is plain that eubulia is a kind of rectitude.
1223. At “although not” [A, 2] he shows to what rectitude is linked. First [2, a] he shows whence it does not arise, and then [2., b] at “But eubulia is etc.,” whence it does arise. On this (first) point he does two things. First [a, i] he proposes what he intends, saying that eubulia is rectitude neither of science nor of opinion.
1224. Next [a, ii], at “for rectitude,” he establishes his proposition: first [ii, x] in regard to science. In an area where error is possible, rectitude appears necessary. But error does not apply to science, which always has to do with true and necessary things. Therefore eubulia is not rectitude of science.
1225. Then [ii, y], at “while truth” he establishes his proposition in regard to opinion, by two arguments. The first is this [y, aa]. Since error is possible in opinion, rectitude is applicable to it. However, its rectitude is not called goodness but truth, just as its defect is called falsity. Therefore eubulia, which takes its name from goodness, is not rectitude of opinion.
1226. He gives the second argument at “Likewise” [y, bb], saying that everything which is a matter of opinion is already determined so far as concerns the one holding it, but not in reality. On this point eubulia, since it is not without the inquiry of reason, differs from opinion. eubulia is not a declaration of something but an inquiry. On the contrary, however, opinion is not an inquiry but a kind of declaration of the man holding it, for a person expressing an opinion states what he imagines to be true. But the man who deliberates, well or badly, seeks something and thinks discursively about the subject; hence he does not yet declare it is or is not so. Therefore eubulia is not rectitude of opinion.
1227. Then [2, b], at “But eubulia ” he shows of what subject cubulia is rectitude. He says that, since eubulia is not rectitude of science nor opinion, we conclude that it must be a certain rectitude of deliberation, as the very name (eubulia) indicates. Consequently to have a perfect notion of eubulia we must inquire what deliberation is and about what it is concerned. These questions have been discussed before in the third book (458-482); so there was no need that they be resumed here.
1228. Next [A, 3], at “Obviously, rectitude,” he shows what kind of rectitude eubulia is. On this point he determines four conditions by turns. He says first 13, a] that rectitude is used in various senses: in one sense properly, in another figuratively. Properly it is used in reference to good things but figuratively it is applied to evil things, just as if we should say that a man is a real burglar, as we do say he is a good burglar.
1229. Obviously, not every rectitude of deliberation is eubulia, for rectitude of deliberation does not refer to evil things but to good things only. The incontinent and evil man sometimes attains what he sets out to know by his reasoning, for example, when he finds out the way he can commit sin. Hence figuratively he is said to deliberate correctly inasmuch as he discovers a way effectively leading to an evil end. However, he takes some great evil for his end, e.g., theft or adultery. But to deliberate well—the name eubulia means this—seems to be something good. Hence it is evident that this rectitude of deliberation is eubulia by which a man attains a good end.
1230. At “But it is possible” [3, b], he explains the second condition, that sometimes in syllogistic arguments a true conclusion is drawn by a false syllogism. So also sometimes in practical matters we arrive at a good end by some evil means. This is what he means by saying that sometimes we determine a good end as it were by a false syllogism; thus a man by deliberating arrives at what he ought to do but not at the means he ought to use, for example, when someone steals to help the poor. It is as if a man in reasoning would take some false middle term to arrive at a true conclusion.
1231. Although the end in the order of intention is like the principle and the middle term, nevertheless, in the order of execution, which the counsellor seeks, the end takes the place of the conclusion and the means the place of the middle term. Obviously, the man who draws a true conclusion by means of a false middle term is not reasoning correctly. Consequently eubulia is not genuine insofar as a man attains the end he ought but not in the way he ought.
1232. At “Besides, it happens” [3, c] he gives the third condition. He says that sometimes a man takes so much time in deliberating that perhaps the opportunity for action occasionally slips by. Likewise, another man may deliberate too hastily. Hence genuine eubulia consists not in this but in that rectitude which aims at what is useful for the proper end, manner and time.
1233. At “Again, one person” [3, d] he introduces the fourth condition, saying that one man may deliberate well, without qualification, about the whole end of life. Also it is possible that another may rightly deliberate about some particular end. Hence unqualified eubulia will be that which directs deliberation in relation to the common end of human life. But eubulia of a particular kind will direct deliberation in relation to some special end. Because to deliberate well is characteristic of prudent people, unqualified eubulia must be rectitude of deliberation in respect to that end which so-called absolute prudence truly evaluates. This is the common end of the whole of life, as was noted above (1163).
1234. Therefore, it can be seen from all our discussions that eubulia is rectitude of deliberation in relation to an absolutely good end, by suitable methods and at an opportune time.
Synesis (Habit of Right judgment in Practical Individual Cases)
B. He now explains synesis.
1. HE COMPARES SYNESIS WITH SCIENCE AND OPINION.
a. He shows that not all science or opinion is synesis. — 1235
Nor is synesis, and asynesia, according to which we are called sensible and foolish, entirely the same as science or opinion, for if this were so all men would be sensible.
b. He shows that no one science is synesis. — 1236
Nor is it any of the particular sciences, for example, medicine which deals with health, or geometry which deals with magnitudes. Nor is synesis concerned with eternal and unchangeable substances, nor with anything made. But it treats those matters about which men may doubt and seek counsel.
2. HE COMPARES synesis WITH PRUDENCE.
a. He infers an agreement between them. — 1237
For this reason synesis is concerned with the same things that prudence is.
b. He shows the difference between them.
i. He shows that synesis is not prudence. — 1238-1240
But synesis is not the same as prudence, for prudence gives orders inasmuch as its end is to lay down 10 what is to be done or not to be done. synesis, however, merely forms judgments. In fact judgment (synesis) and good judgment, like people of judgment and people of good judgment, are looked upon as identical.
ii. He shows that it is not the source of prudence. — 1241-1242
Likewise synesis is not the same as having or acquiring prudence. But just as learning is called syniene when it uses knowledge, so also when it uses practical evaluation to judge things about which prudence treats, or (as someone else says) to judge well, for eu has the meaning of “well.” Hence the name synesis, in accord with which some are called eusyneti (men of good judgment) is derived from the word used in connection with learning. Indeed we often use “learning” in the sense of “understanding.”
C. He describes a third virtue called gnome. — 1243-1244
The virtue called gnome according to which we say men are lenient and have just evaluation, is nothing more than a correct judgment of what is equitable. A proof of this is that we say the man of equity in a special way is inclined to leniency and that what is equitable has a measure of pardon in certain matters. Gnome itself judges what is equitable and the judgment is right when it corresponds to the truth.
II. HE COMPARES THESE VIRTUES WITH ONE ANOTHER AND WITH PRUDENCE.
a. He mentions the agreement among these habits. — 1245
All the preceding habits, it is reasonable to affirm, tend to the same thing. We use the names gnome, synesis, prudence, and understanding in such a way as to imply that the same persons possess gnome and understanding, and on that account are both prudent and sensible. In fact all these habits deal with singulars and particular ultimates,
b. He verifies this.
i. First by reason.
x. HE SHOWS THAT synesis AND gnome DEAL WITH PARTICULAR ULTIMATES AND SINGULARS. — 1246
inasmuch as a man of good sense, or someone pronouncing favorable judgment, or passing a lenient sentence judges the actions which the prudent man commands. Indeed every equitable thing has a relation to all human goods in this, that it refers to another. All these have to do with singulars and particular ultimates, which are practicable things. Because of this the prudent person should know them; likewise synesis and gnome are concerned with things to be done, and these are particular ultimates.
y. HE SHOWS THE SAME THING ABOUT UNDERSTANDING. — 1247-1249
Understanding in both kinds of knowledge is concerned with ultimates because understanding and not reasoning deals with first principles and ultimates. One kind is about unchangeable and first principles in demonstrations, but the other is about a singular and contingent ultimate in practical matters and about a proposition of a different nature. This latter concerns principles of purposeful activity, for the universal is drawn from singulars. Hence it is necessary that man experience these singulars by sense, and this perception is understanding.
ii. (He verifies this) by an indication. — 1250-1252
Therefore the preceding habits seem to be natural. While a man is not naturally wise, he does have good sense, judgment and understanding by nature. This is indicated by the fact that we think such aptitudes follow man’s years. In fact a particular age of life has understanding and good sense just as if nature caused them.
c. He makes an inference from what has been said.
i. First. — 1253
On this account understanding is both a principle and an end, for demonstrations proceed from them and are given for their sake.
ii. He sets down a second corollary. — 1254-1256
So we must heed the indemonstrable statements and opinions of experienced, old and prudent men no less than demonstrations themselves, since the elderly understand principles by their experience. We have thus far considered the nature of prudence and wisdom, what material each virtue treats and in what part of the soul each exists.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1235. After the Philosopher has explained eubulia, he now explains synesis [B]. On this subject he does two things. First [B, 1] he compares synesis with science and opinion. Then [B, 2], at “For this reason synesis etc.,” he compares synesis with prudence. On the first point he does two things. First [i, a] he shows that not all science or opinion is synesis. Next [1, b], at “Nor is it etc.,” he shows that no one science is synesis. He says first that synesis (by reason of which we call some men synetos, i.e., sensible) and its contrary, viz., asynesis —by reason of which we call other men asynetos (asinine) or foolish—are not entirely the same as science or opinion. Surely there is no one who does not have some science or opinion. if then all science or opinion was synesis it would follow that all men would be sensible—something obviously false.
1236. Then [2, b], at “Nor is it, he shows that no one science is synesis, saying that synesis is not any of the particular sciences. The reason is that if it was medicine it would deal with health and sickness; and if it was geometry it would deal with magnitudes. Certainly synesis is not said to be concerned with other particular sciences like the divine sciences, which treat eternal and unchangeable substances; nor is it said to treat the things done by nature or by man which the natural sciences and the arts consider. But it has to do with matters about which a man can doubt and deliberate. So it is evident that synesis is not a particular science.
1237. Next [B, 2], at “For this reason synesis,” he compares synesis with prudence. First [2, a] he infers an agreement between them from our discussion. Since synesis is concerned with matters worthy of deliberation which prudence also considers, as was noted above (1164), it follows that synesis is concerned with the things treated by prudence.
1238. Second [2, b], at “But synesis is not,” he shows the difference between them. First [b, i] he shows that synesis is not prudence, then [1), ii] at “Likewise synesis etc.,” that it is not the source of prudence. He says first that although synesis and prudence have to do with the same things, nevertheless they are not identical.
1239. For proof of this we must consider that in speculative matters, in which no transient action exists, there is a twofold operation of reason, viz., first to find out by inquiry, and then to judge the information. These two works belong to the practical reason whose inquiry is deliberation pertaining to eubulia, but whose judgment about matters deliberated pertains to synesis. People who can judge well about things to be done are called sensible. However, practical reason does not stop here but proceeds further to do something. Hence there is required a third work, as it were final and perfecting, viz., to command that the thing be done. This properly belongs to prudence.
1240. Consequently, he says that prudence is preceptive inasmuch as the work of the end is to determine what must be done. But synesis merely makes a judgment. And synesis and eusynesia are taken for the same thing, viz., sound sense, just as syneti and eusyneti, i.e., people of sense and people of good sense—the work of both is to judge well—are considered to be alike. So it is clear that prudence is more excellent than synesis, just as synesis is more excellent than eubulia, for inquiry is ordered to judgment as to an end, and judgment to command.
1241. Then [b, ii], at “Likewise synesis,” he shows that synesis is not the source of prudence. He says that as synesis is not the same as prudence so it is not the same as having prudence, or as assuming or acquiring it. But just as learning, which is the use of knowledge, is called syniene in Greek, so also the practical evaluation used by someone to judge things about which prudence treats is called syniene. This can even be called judging well, by another, for eu in Greek means the same as “well.” Hence the name synesis, in accord with which some are called eusyneti (as it were men of good judgment or of good sense), is derived from this word syniene which is used in connection with learning. Indeed we often call learning syniene.
1242. The sense then is that syniene in Greek means a use of some intellectual habit, which use is not only learning but also judging. But synesis is so called from syniene by reason of that use which is judging, not by reason of that use which is learning. Hence synesis is not the same as having or learning prudence, as some have thought.
1243. At “The virtue called gnome ” [C] he describes a third virtue called gnome. To understand this virtue we must draw from a previous discussion (1070-1090) on the distinction between equity and legal justice. What is legally just is determined according to what happens in the majority of cases. But what is equitable is directive of the legally just thing because the law necessarily is deficient in the minority of cases. As synesis signifies a right judgment about the things that happen in the majority of cases, so gnome signifies a right judgment about the direction of what is legally just. Therefore, he says that that virtue called gnome —according to which we say some men are eugnomonas, i.e., pronounce fair judgments and have correct evaluation or arrive at just decisions—is nothing more than a correct judgment of that which is the object of equity.
1244. A proof of this is that we say the equitable man is especially (syngnomonicum) inclined to kindness, as it were tempering judgment with a certain clemency. And what is equitable is especially said to have syngnome, i.e., a certain equal measure of pardon. The virtue syngnome rightly judges what is equitable, and is correct when it judges what is true.
1245. Next [II], at “All the preceding habits,” he compares these virtues with one another and with prudence. On this point he does three things. First [II, a] he mentions the agreement among these habits. Then [II, b], at “inasmuch as a man etc.,” he verifies this. Last [II, c], at “On this account understanding etc.,” he makes an inference from what has been said. He affirms first that all these habits aim at the same thing. And this is reasonable. That they aim at the same thing is evident because they are attributed to the same persons. We use the words gnome, synesis, prudence, and understanding, referring to the same persons whom we call prudent and sensible as having gnome and understanding. That this reference is reasonable is clear from the fact that all the foregoing-called powers because they are principles of action-deal with singulars, which, in the practical order, are particular ultimates, as was stated in the discussion on prudence (1191-1194).
1246. Then [II, b], at “inasmuch as,” he verifies what he said: first [II, b, i] by reason, and next [II, b, ii], at “Therefore the preceding etc.,” by an indication. On the first point he does two things. First [i, x] he shows that synesis and gnome deal with particular ultimates and singulars, just as prudence does. Second [i, y], at “Understanding in both kinds etc.,” he shows the same thing about understanding. He says first that obviously synesis and gnome deal with singular ultimates inasmuch as the kindly-disposed man of good sense, i.e., one pronouncing favorable sentences, or the compassionate man, i.e., the one passing sentence with clemency, judges those actions that the prudent man commands. But equitable things, about which gnome treats, in general can be compared to all human goods inasmuch as each of them has a reference to another-a thing pertaining to the nature of justice. Indeed, it has been said above (1078) that what is equitable is a kind of just thing. So then it has been correctly stated that gnome is concerned with the things treated by prudence. However, it is evident that all these have to do with singulars and particular ultimates by reason of the fact that practicable things are singular and particular ultimates. But prudence, synesis, and gnome deal with practicable things and so, obviously, with particular ultimates.
1247. Second [i, y], at “Understanding in both kinds,” he shows that understanding is concerned with ultimates. He says that understanding in both speculative and practical knowledge has to do with ultimates because understanding and not reasoning deals with first principles and ultimates (from which reasoning starts). But there are two kinds of understanding. One of these is about unchangeable and first principles in demonstrations, for they proceed from the unchangeable and first—that is, indemonstrable—principles which are the first things known and immutable because the knowledge of them cannot be removed from man. But that understanding of practical matters deals with another kind of ultimate: the singular and contingent, and with a different proposition, i.e., not the universal—which is as it were a major—but the particular which is the minor of a syllogism in the practical field.
1248. Why understanding is predicated of an ultimate of this kind is evident from the fact that understanding treats of principles. But the singulars, about which we say understanding is concerned, are principles of what is done for an end, i.e., principles after the manner of a final cause.
1249. It is obvious that singulars have the nature of principles because the universal is drawn from singulars. From the fact that this herb cured this man, we gather that this kind of herb has power to cure. Because singulars are properly known by the senses, it is necessary that man should have experience of these singulars (which we say are principles and ultimates) not just by exterior but by interior sense as well; he said before (1214-1215) that prudence belongs to the sensory power of judging called particular reason. Hence this sense is called understanding whose object is the sensible and singular. In the third book De Anima (Ch. 5, 430 a 25; St. Th. Lect. 10, 745) the Philosopher refers to this as the “passive intellect” which is perishable.
1250. Next [II, b, ii], at “Therefore the preceding,” he verifies what he said. Since the foregoing habits concern singulars, they must in some way be in contact with the sensitive faculties which operate by means of bodily organs. Consequently these habits seem to be natural, not as from nature entirely but in the sense that some are inclined to them by a natural physical disposition so as to be perfected in them with a little experience. This does not happen with the intellectual habits, like geometry and metaphysics, which deal with things in nature.
1251. And he adds this: no one is called a philosopher (i.e., a metaphysician) or a geometrician by nature. Some indeed are naturally more apt for these roles than others but this is due to a remote and not an immediate bent of mind, as some men are said naturally to have good sense and excellent judgment, and that understanding which we speak of regarding singulars.
1252. An indication of such aptitudes is the opinion we have that they accompany age as physical nature is changed. Indeed there is a particular time of life, old age which, by the cessation of bodily and animal changes, has understanding and good sense as if nature was the cause of them.
1253. Then [II, c], at “On this account understanding,” he infers two corollaries from the discussion. The first of these [c, i] is that understanding, which discriminates well among singulars in practical matters, not only has to do with principles as in the speculative order but is a quasi-end. In speculative matters demonstrations proceed from principles (considered by understanding), but there are no demonstrations for the principles. On the other hand in practical matters demonstrations proceed from principles, viz., singulars and there are demonstrations for these principles. In practical argumentation, according to which reason moves to action, a singular must be the minor and also the conclusion inferring the practicable thing itself which is a singular.
1254. At “So we must heed” [c, ii] he sets down a second corollary. It has just been said (1252) that understanding, dealing with practicable principles, follows from experience and age, and is perfected by prudence. Hence we must pay attention to the thoughts and decisions of experienced, old, and prudent men on what is to be done. Although such opinions and resolutions do not lead to demonstrations, they are nonetheless heeded even more than if they were demonstrations themselves. Such men understand practical principles because they have an experienced eye, i.e., right judgment in practical matters. And principles are more certain than the conclusions of demonstrations.
1255. Regarding the statements just made (1254) we must consider that, as in universals unconditioned judgment about first principles belongs to understanding (and deduction from principles to conclusions, to reasoning) so in particulars unconditioned judgment about singulars belongs to the sensory power of judgment called understanding. We say that prudence, synesis, and gnome pertain to understanding. However, this is called particular reason, inasmuch as it concludes from one to another; to it belongs eubulia which the Philosopher did not enumerate among the others. Therefore he said it (particular reason) deals with particular ultimates.
1256. Finally he sums up saying that we have discussed the nature of prudence (the principal virtue in practical matters) and wisdom (the principal virtue in speculative matters) and the affairs each of these is concerned with, and that they are not in the same part of the rational soul.
Doubts About the Usefulness of Wisdom and Prudence
I. HE PROPOSES SOME DOUBTS.
A. He raises a doubt about the usefulness of wisdom and prudence.
1. HE PROPOSES THE DOUBT. — 1257
Someone may raise a doubt about the utility of these virtues.
2. HE PURSUES THE DOUBT.
a. First in regard to wisdom. — 1258
Wisdom, to be sure, explores none of the ways in which man is made happy, for it does not consider any operation.
b. Then... about prudence.
i. He brings forward the argument that prudence is not necessary for man. — 1259-1260
Although prudence considers this very thing, why does man need it? Prudence is the virtue concerned with things that are just and honorable and useful to man—the performance of which belongs to the good of man. But we are not more inclined to do things from knowing them (since virtues are operative habits) than we are inclined to fulfill the requirements of health and good condition from knowing them, but from the fact that they are habits. Surely we are not more inclined to activity because we know medicine and gymnastics.
ii. He rules out a particular answer (for two reasons).
x. THE FIRST REASON. — 1261-1262
If we must assume that a man ought to be prudent not for the sake of these (virtuous works) but to become virtuous, prudence will not be at all useful for men who are virtuous.
y. THE SECOND REASON. — 1263
Nor will it be necessary for those not having virtue because, in order to be virtuous, it makes no difference whether men themselves have prudence or are induced to it by others who have it. It is enough that we make use of prudence; in regard to health, we do not learn medicine even though we want to be healthy.
B. He raises a doubt about the comparison of these two (wisdom and prudence) with one another. — 1264-1265
Again, it seems unreasonable that prudence, which is less perfect, should have predominance over wisdom. Prudence indeed has power over singulars and gives orders in regard to them. But we must discuss the questions proposed; up to the present we have merely raised doubts about them.
II. HE SOLVES THEM (THE DOUBTS).
A. He solves the doubt about the utility of wisdom and prudence.
1. HE SOLVES THE DOUBT IN REGARD TO WISDOM AND PRUDENCE IN GENERAL... (BY) TWO EXPLANATIONS.
a. The first (explanation). — 1266
We answer first that wisdom and prudence necessarily are objects of choice in themselves; even if neither of them performs any operation, they are virtues perfecting both parts of the soul.
b. The second explanation. — 1267
Wisdom and prudence do, in fact, perform some operation but not as the medical art produces health; as health brings about healthful activities so does wisdom bring happiness. Since wisdom is a part of virtue as a whole, he who has it acts according to it and becomes happy.
2. (HE SOLVES THE DOUBT) IN REGARD TO PRUDENCE IN PARTICULAR.
a. First... that prudence does nothing for virtuous works. — 1268-1269
Moreover, a work of virtue is perfected in accord with prudence and moral virtue: moral virtue rectifies the end, and prudence the means to the end. But there is no such virtue in the fourth part of the soul, viz., the power of growth because this does not have the option of operating or not operating.
b. Then... that prudence is not necessary in order that a man be virtuous.
i. Prudence cannot exist without moral virtue.
x. ANOTHER OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE IS REQUIRED. — 1270-1271
Concerning the objection that, by reason of prudence, men will not the more readily perform good and just deeds, we must begin a little further back, resuming the following heading. We do not call certain men just who do just works, for example, those who do the things decreed by the law, either unwillingly or because of ignorance or some other cause, and not because of the works themselves. We do not call such men just, although they do what they ought to do and even what a good man ought to do. So, as it seems, one ought to do particular things in such a manner to be virtuous, for example, he should do them from choice and for the sake of the virtuous works themselves. Virtue indeed makes the right choice, but whatever things are designed by nature to be done do not pertain to virtue but to some other principle.
y. HE SHOWS. WHAT (THE OTHER OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE) IS. — 1272
But something more must be said in order to understand these matters better. There is a particular quality called shrewdness, which is of such a nature that it enables a man to do the things ordained to a determined end and to attain the end by means of these things. When the intention is good, shrewdness is praiseworthy, but when the intention is evil it is called craftiness. For this reason we call both prudent and crafty people clever.
z. HE SHOWS THAT PRUDENCE MAKES AN ADDITION OF A MORAL VIRTUE TO THAT PRINCIPLE. — 1273-1274
Prudence is not this quality but cannot exist without it; the habit in the soul is joined to this insight by moral virtue, as has been pointed out. This is evident because argumentation in the practical order has a principle that such an end is the supreme good, whatever that end may be, in fact anything may be used as an example. What is the supreme good is not apparent except to a virtuous man, for evil corrupts and causes deception in practical principles. Obviously then it is impossible for a man to be prudent who is not virtuous.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1257. After the Philosopher has considered the intellectual virtues, he raises some doubts about their utility. On this point he does two things. First [I] he proposes some doubts. Then [II], at “We answer first,” he solves them. On the first point he does two things. First [I, A] he raises a doubt about the usefulness of wisdom and prudence, to which the other virtues are referred as to the principal ones. Second [I, B], at “Again, it seems etc.,” he raises a doubt about the comparison of these two with one another. On the first point he does two things. First [I, A, I] he proposes the doubt saying that a man may be uncertain why or how wisdom and prudence are useful.
1258. Second [I, A, 2], at “Wisdom, to be sure,” he pursues the doubt: first [I, A, 2, a] in regard to wisdom that seems to be useless. Whatever is useful in human affairs contributes something to happiness, the ultimate end of human life, to which wisdom seems to contribute nothing. Wisdom does not appear to explore any of the ways by which man is made happy because this takes place by means of virtuous operation, as was explained in the first book (224-230). But wisdom does not consider any production, i.e., operation, since it treats the first principles of being. So then it seems that wisdom is not useful to man.
1259. Then [I, A, 2, b], at “Although prudence considers,” he pursues his doubt about prudence. First [I, A, 2, b, i ] he brings forward the argument that prudence is not necessary for man. Next [I, A, 2, b, ii], at “If we must assume etc.,” he rules out a particular answer. He says first that it is the role of prudence to consider the operations of man by which he may become happy. But on this account it does not seem that man needs it. Prudence is concerned with things just in relation to others and with things noble (or honorable) and good, i.e., useful to man in relation to himself—the performance of which belongs to the good man. But a person does not seem to perform actions that are in accord with some habit from the fact that he knows them but from the fact that he has the habit in relation to them.
1260. Thus it is clear in regard to the body that someone is not more inclined to put into practice the things pertaining to a healthy or well-conditioned man—provided they are not merely activities—because he has a knowledge of medicine or gymnastics, but because he has an inner habit. It happens sometimes that, from a knowledge of his art, a man performs certain healthful activities, but does them incidentally and not according as they come from a habit of health, which is why a healthy man does them. So this does not proceed from man because he knows medicine but only because he is healthy. Therefore, since virtues are habits, a man is not induced to do the works of the virtues as they proceed from the habits and lead to happiness simply because prudence gives him a knowledge of them. And in this manner prudence is not operative of the good.
1261. Then [I, A, 2, b, ii], at “If we must assume,” he rules out a particular answer. Someone could say: a man in being virtuous is not more ready to perform virtuous acts from the fact that he knows them according to prudence, but he does need prudence to become virtuous, just as a healthy man does not need the art of medicine to perform healthful works but in order that he be made healthy. So we must say that a man ought to be prudent not for the sake of these, viz., virtuous works, but for the sake of becoming virtuous. He excludes this answer for two reasons.
1262. The first reason [ii, x] is that prudence would not be at all useful when men are already good, i.e., virtuous. This seems quite unreasonable.
1263. He gives the second reason at “Nor will it” [ii, y]. According to the previous answer it seems that prudence would not be necessary even for those who do not have virtue. In order that men become virtuous it does not seem to make any difference whether they themselves have prudence, or are induced to it by those who have prudence, since in the latter case man is sufficiently disposed to become virtuous, as is clear in regard to health. When we want to regain health, we do not, because of this, take the trouble to learn medicine, but it is enough to follow the advice of doctors. Hence, for a similar reason, it is not necessary to have prudence in order to become virtuous but it is sufficient to be instructed by prudent men.
1264. Next [I, B] at “Again, it seems” he raises a doubt about the comparison between prudence and wisdom. It was explained before (1186-1189) that prudence is inferior to wisdom in excellence. At least wisdom seems to be prior, i.e., more pre-eminent than prudence, which operates with and gives orders regarding singulars. Even political science is contained under prudence, for it has been explained in the introduction to this work (26-31) that political science gives orders as to what sciences ought to be pursued in a state, which sciences each man ought to learn, and for what period. So it seems that prudence has authority over wisdom, since to give orders is the function of a judge. But it seems unreasonable that the less perfect should exercise authority over the more excellent.
1265. Continuing with what follows he adds a note, saying that he must discuss the proposed questions, which have been treated under the aspect of doubt up to the present.
1266. Then [II], at “We answer first,” he resolves the foregoing doubts. First [II, A] he solves the doubt about the utility of wisdom and prudence. Next [Lect. 11, II, B], at “Nevertheless, neither” (B.1145 a 7), he solves the doubt about the comparison between the two. On the first point he does two things. First [II, A, i] he solves the doubt in regard to wisdom and prudence in general, then [II, A, 2] at “Moreover, a work etc.” in regard to prudence in particular. In reference to the first he puts forward two explanations. The first [II, A, i, a] of these shows that the arguments presented do not prove conclusively. It does not follow that wisdom and prudence are useless because by them nothing is gained in happiness. Even if neither of them had any operation, they would nevertheless be objects of choice in themselves since they are virtues perfecting both parts of the rational soul, as is evident from previous discussions (1255). Anything is an object of choice by reason of its perfection.
1267. The second explanation, given at “Wisdom and prudence” [II, A, 1, b], destroys the arguments. He says that wisdom and prudence in fact do something for happiness. But the example that he had been using was not suitable. Wisdom or prudence is not compared to happiness in the same way as the medical art to health, but rather as health to healthful activities. The medical art brings about health as a particular external work produced, but health brings about healthful activities by use of the habit of health. However, happiness is not a work externally produced but an operation proceeding from the habit of virtue. Hence, since wisdom is a certain species of virtue as a whole it follows that, from the very fact that a man has wisdom and operates according to it, he is happy. The same reason holds in the case of prudence. But he mentioned wisdom particularly because happiness consists more in its operation, as will be explained later in the tenth book (2111-2125).
1268. Next [II, A, 2], at “Moreover, a work,” he solves the objections pertaining particularly to prudence: first [II, A, 2, a] in reference to the doubt that prudence does nothing for virtuous works; then [II, A, 2, b], at “Concerning the objection,” in reference to the doubt that prudence is not necessary in order that a man be virtuous. He says first—this time as regards prudence in particular—that the objection of prudence not enabling us to perform virtuous works breaks down. This can be false because we perfect the work of virtue according to both, viz., prudence and moral virtue.
1269. Two things are needed in a work of virtue. One is that a man have a right intention for the end, which moral virtue provides in inclining the appetitive faculty to a proper end. The other is to be well disposed towards the means. This is done by prudence, which gives good advice, judges, and orders the means to the end. In this way, both prudence and moral virtue concur in a virtuous operation: prudence perfecting the part rational by essence, and moral virtue perfecting the appetitive part, rational by participation. But in the other, i.e., nutritive part of the soul-which is altogether devoid of reason-there is no such virtue concurring in human operation. The evident reason for this is that the power of growth does not have the option of operating or not operating. But this characteristic is required for the operation of human virtue, as is evident from previous discussions (305, 308, 382, 496, 502, 503).
1270. At “Concerning the objection” [II, A, 2, b] he solves the difficulty which pretended to show that a man could be and could become virtuous without prudence. On this point he does two things. First [II, A, 2, b, i], he shows that prudence cannot exist without moral virtue. Then [Lect. 11; II, A, 2, b, ii], at “We must again etc.” (B.1144 b), he shows that moral virtue cannot exist without prudence. On the first point he does three things. First [II, a, 2, b, ii, x] he shows that for a man to be virtuous, not only moral virtue but also another operative principle is required. Second [II, A, 2, b, ii, y], at “But something more etc.,” he shows what it is. Last [II, A, 2, b, ii, z], at “Prudence is not etc.,” he shows that prudence makes an addition of a moral virtue to that principle. He says first that to answer the assertion (1262-1263) that by reason of prudence a man will not perform good and just actions in order to become virtuous, we must begin a little further back, resuming certain things already discussed (1035-1049).
1271. We will begin from this point that, as has been said (1035-1049), some people perform just deeds, and we nevertheless do not call them just, as when they do deeds decreed by law, either unwillingly or because of ignorance or for some other reason like gain, and not out of love for the very works of justice. Men of this sort, I say, are not called just though they perform the actions they should perform and even actions that a good man should perform. So also in particular virtues a man ought to work in ~some measure in order that he be good or virtuous, just as he works from choice and because the virtuous works themselves are pleasing. It has just been said (1269) that moral virtue makes the right choice in regard to the intention of the end. But the things designed by nature to be done for the end do not pertain to moral virtue but to some other power, i.e., to a certain other operative principle that discovers ways leading to ends. So a principle of this kind is necessary in order that a man be virtuous.
1272. Then [II, A, 2, b, ii, y], at “But something more, “ he Shows what that principle is. He states that something further must be said about the things discussed above, so that they may be more clearly understood. There is, therefore, a particular power, i.e., an operative principle called shrewdness, as it were a certain ingenuity or skillfulness. This is of such a nature that, by means of it, man can do the things ordered to an end-either good or bad-that he has presupposed, and by means of the things he does he can share or attain the end. When the intention is good, ingenuity of this sort deserves praise, but when the intention is bad, it is called craftiness, which implies evil as prudence implies good. But, because shrewdness is common to each, it follows that we call both prudent and crafty people shrewd, i.e., ingenious or skillful. So then it seems that wisdom is not useful to man.
1273. At “Prudence is not” [II, A, 2, b, ii, z] he shows that prudence adds something to this principle, saying that prudence is not identical with this trait of shrewdness, although prudence cannot be without it. But the habit of prudence in the soul is not joined to this insight, i.e., this perceptive principle of shrewdness, without moral virtue which always refers to good, as has been pointed out (712)The reason for this is clear. As argumentation has principles in the speculative field so it has in the practical field, for instance, the principle that such an end is the good and the supreme good, whatever that end be for which a man operates (and anything may be used as an example). Thus for the self-controlled man the supreme good and a quasi-principle is the attainment of moderation in the desires of touch. But the supreme good is not apparent except to the good or virtuous man who has the proper evaluation of the end, since moral virtue rectifies the conception of the end.
1274. That what is really the supreme good does not appear in evil things is evident from the fact that vice, the opposite of virtue, perverts the judgment of the reason and causes deception in practical principles, for example, to follow his desires seems the supreme good to the licentious man. It is not possible to reason correctly if we are in error about principles. Since then it pertains to the prudent man to reason correctly in practical matters, obviously it is impossible for one to be prudent who is not virtuous, just as a man who errs about the principles of demonstration cannot acquire science.
Moral Virtue and Prudence
ii. He shows that moral virtue cannot exist without prudence.
x. HE EXPLAINS HIS PROPOSITION.
aa. He proves his proposition initially by reason. — 1275-1280
We must again turn our attention to virtue. Virtue has a relation to a similar quality-as prudence to shrewdness, not that they are identical but that they have some likeness. In this way nat- b ural virtue is related to the principal virtue, for it seems to everyone that each kind of moral practice exists by nature to some extent. Indeed immediately from birth we are just, temperate, and brave and have other qualities. However, we are looking for something different, a good as a principle, so that virtues of this kind may be in us according to another manner of existence. It is a fact that children and dumb animals have natural habits, but these seem detrimental without the direction of reason. Certainly this much seems clear that, as a powerful 10 body moved without the guidance of vision goes astray more powerfully because it lacks that guidance, so in this matter. But if a principle similar (to prudence) operates, then virtue in the proper sense will be present. Hence, as in the discursive faculty there are two kinds of principles, viz., shrewdness and prudence, so in the moral faculty there are two kinds of principles, viz., natural virtue and the principal virtue. The latter cannot be without prudence.
bb. Then by the observations of others.
a’ First by a statement of Socrates.
A. THE STATEMENT. — 1281
Therefore, it is said that all virtues are kinds of prudence.
B. ARISTOTLE SHOWS HOW THEY (THE VIRTUES) FALL SHORT. — 1282
In this, Socrates’ investigation was correct in one respect and wrong in an other. He erroneously held that all virtues are species of prudence, but correctly stated that virtue cannot be without prudence.
b’ Next by a statement of Aristotle’s contemporaries.
A. HE GIVES THEIR STATEMENT. — 1283
An indication Of this is that at the present time all men, in defining virtue, place it in the genus of habit and state to what matters it extends and that it is according to right reason. But right reason is that which is according to prudence. Therefore they all seem to guess in some manner that virtue is the kind of habit that is in accord with prudence.
B. HE SHOWS HOW THEY MAY BE WRONG. — 1284-1285
But we must go a little further, for virtue is not only in conformity with reason, but a habit accompanied by reason. But right reason in such matters is prudence. Socrates then was of the opinion that virtues are kinds of reason because he thought they were species of knowledge. But we maintain they are accompanied by reason. Therefore it is obvious from the discussion how it is not possible for a man to be good in the strict sense without prudence, nor to be prudent without moral virtue.
y. HE SOLVES A PARTICULAR INCIDENTAL DOUBT.
aa. He raises the doubt. — 1286
In this way we can refute the argument that some use to prove that virtues are separated one from another. We see that the same man is not equally well inclined by nature to all virtues. Wherefore he will be said to acquire the virtue he has known but not any other.
bb. He solves the doubt. — 1287-1288
This does happen in regard to the natural virtues but not in regard to those virtues according to which a man is called absolutely good. The reason is that all the virtues are present simultaneously with prudence, a single virtue.
z. HE BRINGS HIS PRINCIPAL PROPOSITION TO A CONCLUSION. — 1289
Evidently man would need prudence (even though it were not practical) because it is a virtue perfecting a part of the soul; he would need it because there will be no right choice without either prudence or virtue, for the latter disposes the end and the former directs the means to the end.
B. He solves the doubt raised about the comparison between prudence and wisdom. — 1290-1291
Nevertheless, neither prudence rules over wisdom nor (an inferior thing) over what is more excellent, just as medicine does not rule health. This is so because medicine does not use health but sees how it may be produced; it gives orders for the sake of health but not to it. Again, it would be like saying that political science rules the gods because it gives orders about everything in the state.
COMMENTARY OF ST. THOMAS
1275. After the Philosopher has shown that prudence cannot exist without moral virtue, he now shows that moral virtue cannot exist without prudence [ii]. On this point he does three things. First [ii, x] he explains his proposition. Second [ii, y], at “In this way we can etc.,” he solves a particular incidental doubt. Third [ii, z], at “Evidently man etc.,” he brings his principal proposition to a conclusion. On the first point he does two things. First [x, aa] he proves his proposition initially by reason and then [x, bb] by the observations of others at “Therefore, it is etc.” He says first that, since it has been shown (1273) that prudence cannot be without moral virtue, we must again turn our attention to moral virtue, inquiring whether it can be without prudence. It is the same with moral virtue, as has been said about prudence and shrewdness (1272-1274), that although they are not identical nevertheless they have some likeness one to the other, inasmuch as each discovers means suitable for the proposed end. This seems to be the case with natural and principal virtue, i.e., moral which is the perfect kind.
1276. That there is a natural virtue, presupposed to moral, is obvious from the fact that individual virtuous or vicious practices seem to exist in some people naturally; immediately from birth certain men seem to be just or temperate or brave because of a natural disposition by which they are inclined to virtuous works. This natural disposition can be considered from three viewpoints.
1277. It can be considered first on the part of the reason, since the first principles of human conduct are implanted by nature, for instance, that no one should be injured, and the like; next, on the part of the will, which of itself is naturally moved by the good apprehended as its proper object; last, on the part of the sensitive appetite according as, by natural temperament, some men are inclined to anger, others to concupiscence or passions of a different kind either too much or too little, or with moderation in which moral virtue consists. The first two are common to all men.
1278. Hence, according to this, the Philosopher says that some men are brave and just by nature, although those who are so naturally need something good as a principle, so that these virtues may exist in a more perfect manner; the foregoing natural habits or inclinations exist in children and dumb animals, for example, the lion is brave and noble by nature. Nevertheless natural habits of this kind may be harmful unless the discrimination of reason is present.
1279. Moreover, it seems that, as in physical movement when a body is moved by force without the guidance of vision it happens that the moved object is struck and damaged by the force, so also in this matter. If a man has a strong inclination to the work of some moral virtue and does not use discretion with regard to that work of the moral virtue, grave harm will occur either to his own body (as in one who is inclined to abstinence without discretion) or to external things (in one who is inclined to liberality). The same is true in other virtues. But if such an inclination jointly accepts reason in its operation so that it operates with discretion, then there will be a great difference in the excellence of goodness. Likewise the habit, which will be similar to the operation of this kind done with discretion, will be a virtue in the proper and perfect sense, i.e., a moral virtue.
1280. As then in the discursive part of the soul there are two kinds of principles of operation, viz., shrewdness and prudence, so also in the appetitive part pertaining to moral matters there are two kinds of principles, viz., natural virtue and moral, the principal virtue. The latter cannot come into being without prudence, as has been indicated (1275).
1281. Then [x, bb], at “Therefore, it is,” he confirms his proposition by the observations of others. He does this first [bb, a’] by a statement of Socrates, and next [bb, b’], at “An indication etc.,” by a statement of Aristotle’s contemporaries. On the first point he does two things. First [a’, a] he gives the statement of Socrates, who held that all moral virtues are species of prudence by reason of the previously mentioned relationship between moral virtue and prudence.
1282. Second [a’, b], at “In this, Socrates’,” Aristotle shows how they (the virtues) fall short, saying that in this statement Socrates’ investigation was correct in one respect but wrong in another. Socrates erroneously held that all moral virtues are kinds of prudence, since moral virtue and prudence are in different parts of the soul but he was correct in saying that moral virtue cannot be without prudence.
1283. Next [bb, b’], at “An indication,” he confirms this by the words of his contemporaries. First [b’, a] he gives their statement. Then [b’, b], at “But we must etc.,” he shows how they may be wrong. He says first that an indication that moral virtue is not without prudence is that all of them in defining virtue anti placing it in the genus of habit state the scope of virtue and say that this is guidance by right reason. But it is clear from previous discussion (1111) that right reason in things to be done is right reason under the a6gis of prudence. Therefore, when they all define virtue in this way, even though they do not decide it expressly, they seem in some manner to divine or conjecture that virtue is the kind of habit which is according to prudence.
1284. At “But we must” [b’, b] he shows how they may be wrong, when they talk this way, by saying that their statement needs extension. Not only does it pertain to moral virtue to be in accord with right reason—otherwise someone could be morally virtuous without the need of prudence simply by the fact that he had been instructed by another’s mind—but we must add that moral virtue is a habit accompanied by right reason, which of course is prudence. Evidently, therefore, Socrates said too much in expressing the opinion that all moral virtues are forms of reason and not things accompanied by reason, and that they were species of knowledge or prudence.
1285. Others said too little holding that virtue is only in accord with reason. But Aristotle maintains a middle position by stating that moral virtue is according to reason and accompanied by reason. Obviously then, from the discussions (1275-1283), it is not possible for a man to be good in the principal sense, i.e., according to moral virtue, without prudence, nor even to be prudent without moral virtue.
1286. Then [ii, y], at “In this way we can,” from the previous discussion he solves a particular incidental doubt. First [y, aa] he raises the doubt. Second [y, bb], at “This does happen etc.,” he solves the doubt. He says first that from the premises it is possible to refute the argument that certain philosophers have used contending that virtues are separated from one another, so one virtue can be had without another. We see that the same person is not inclined to all the virtues, but one to liberality, another to temperance, and so on. it is easy for a man to be led to that to which he is naturally inclined, but it is difficult to acquire a thing contrary to a natural impulse. It follows then that a man, who is naturally disposed to one virtue and not to another, has known, i.e., has acquired the one virtue to which he was naturally disposed (he is taking the position of Socrates who held that virtues are kinds of knowledge). But he will never acquire the other virtue to which he is not disposed by nature.
1287. Next [y, bb], at “This does happen,” his statement is verified in regard to the natural virtues but not in regard to the moral virtues according to which a man is called good without qualification. This is true because none of them can exist without prudence, nor prudence without them, as has been explained (1275-1283). So when there is prudence, which is a single virtue, all the virtues will be simultaneous with it, and none of them will be present if prudence is not there.
1288. He expressly says “a single virtue”—if different species of prudence were concerned with the matter of different moral virtues (as is the case with the different objects in the genus of art), one moral virtue would not be hindered from existing without another, each of them having a prudence corresponding to it. But this is impossible because the same principles of prudence apply to the totality of moral matter so that everything is subjected to the rule of reason. Therefore, all moral virtues are connected one with the other by prudence. However, it can happen that a man, having other moral virtue, may be said to be without one virtue because of the lack of matter, for example, someone good but poor lacks magnificence because he does not have the mean to make great expenditures. Nevertheless, by reason of prudence which he does possess, he is so disposed that he may become munificent when he has matter for the virtue.
1289. Then [ii, z], at “Evidently man,” he brings his principal proposition to a conclusion by a summation of the discussions. He says that it is now evident from previous discussions (1266) that, even if prudence were not operative, man would need it because it is a virtue which perfects a particular part of the soul. Again, it is evident that prudence is operative because right choice, necessary for the operation of virtue, does not exist without prudence and moral virtue. The reason is that moral virtue makes the disposition in regard to the end, while prudence directs the means to the end.
1290. Last [II, B], at “Nevertheless, neither prudence” he solves the doubt raised about the comparison between prudence and wisdom, saying that prudence does not have power over wisdom, nor does that which is inferior have power over what is more excellent. He introduces two examples by way of illustration. The first is that the art of medicine indeed commands what ought to be done to obtain health, but it does not have power over health because it does not use health itself-something proper to the art or science of one governing—as a man uses a thing over which he has power by commanding it. But the art of medicine commands how health may be brought about, in such a way as to give orders for the sake of health but not to it. Likewise prudence, or even political science, does not use wisdom by commanding the manner in which it ought to judge about divine things but it does give orders by reason of it, i.e., ordains how men can arrive at wisdom. Hence, as health is more powerful than the art of medicine—since health is the end of medicine—so wisdom is more excellent than prudence.
1291. The second example is this. Since political science gives orders about all things done in the state, it follows that it should give orders about the things pertaining to divine worship just as it commands what belongs to the study of wisdom. This, therefore, is like the argument that prudence or political science is preferred to wisdom in the sense that one should prefer wisdom to God—a thing obviously unreasonable. Thus he concludes the teaching of the sixth book.