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Thomas Aquinas' Novel Modesty

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Like the virtue it purports to explain, St Thomas Aquinas' treatment of modestia in the Summa Theologiae (II-II. 160-169) is something that can easily be overlooked. Such neglect is unfortunate, for it is liable to obscure the surprising character of Aquinas' account, departing as it does from many of his philosophical sources (e.g. Aristotle and especially Cicero), to say nothing of our own contemporary assumptions. This novel treatment is especially significant given its potential value in addressing the social and political needs of the current age, for rather than being the virtue least fitted for contemporary life, the modesty that emerges in Thomas' moral theology may have an enduring civic significance. This essay therefore begins with an exegesis of Aquinas' account of modestia and concludes with an analysis of its political dimensions.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004


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