"Ironically the pragmatic meaning of prudence is exactly the opposite of its traditional meaning. Traditionally prudence was not considered contrary to virtue; it was the highest virtue: It meant the wisdom to practice all the virtues in the right time and circumstance."
Aquinas' Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy
"For Thomas Aquinas, as for Aristotle, doing moral philosophy is thinking as generally as possible about what I should choose to do (and not to do), considering my whole life as a field of opportunity (or misuse of opportunity). Thinking as general as this concerns not merely my own opportunities, but the kinds of good things that any human being can do and achieve, or be deprived of. Thinking about what to do is conveniently labeled 'practical', and is concerned with what and how to choose and do what one intelligently and reasonably can (i) to achieve intelligible goods in one's own life and the lives of other human beings and their environment, and (ii) to be of good character and live a life that as a whole will have been a reasonable response to such opportunities.
Political philosophy is, in one respect, simply that part or extension of moral philosophy which considers the kinds of choice that should be made by all who share in the responsibility and authority of choosing for a community of the comprehensive kind called political. In another respect, it is a systematic explanatory account of the forms of political arrangement that experience and empirical observation show are available, with their characteristic features, outcomes, and advantages (and disadvantages and bad aspects and consequences). Though in form descriptive and contemplative, and thus non-practical, this aspect of political philosophy remains subordinate, in its systematization or conceptual structure, to the categories one finds necessary or appropriate when doing moral and political philosophy as it should be done, that is, as practical thinking by one whose every choice (even the choice to do nothing now, or the choice do moral or political philosophy) should be a good use of opportunity.
Moral and political philosophy for Aquinas, then, is (1) the set or sets of concepts and propositions which, as principles and precepts of action, pick out the kinds of chosen action that are truly intelligent and reasonable for human individuals and political communities, together with (2) the arguments necessary to justify those concepts and propositions in the face of doubts, or at least to defend them against objections. It is a fundamentally practical philosophy of principles which direct us towards human fulfillment so far as that happier state of affairs is both constituted and achievable by way of the actions that both manifest and build up the excellences of character traditionally called virtues. If one must use a post-Kantian jargon, it is both 'teleological' and 'deontic', and not more the one than the other."
More About This Topic...
Click thumbnails below to view links