The Definition of Moral Virtue

By Yves R. Simon; Vukan Kuic | Go to book overview
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related, ethics cannot be reduced to politics any more than politics can be reduced to ethics. Thus what he is really telling us is that before we can try to match them, moral character and the form of the regime both need to be worked on. "Social engineering" looks for an easier way out. But I am convinced that as long as we keep reading Plato, we shall not fall into complete barbarism.

See, e.g., Charles W. Hendel et al., The Philosophy of Kant and Our Modern World ( New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1957), esp. the ch. by John S. Smith, "The Question of Man."
Yves R. Simon, Freedom of Choice, ed. Peter Wolf ( New York: Fordham University Press, 1969), esp. pp. 4-15; also The Tradition of Natural Law, ed. Vukan Kuic ( New York: Fordham University Press, 1965), pp. 47-50.
"It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copybooks and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle--they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments." Alfred North Whitehead, Introduction to Mathematics ( New York: Holt, 1911), p. 61.
De Libero Arbitrio II. 19. See also Summa Theologica, I-II.55.4, in Introduction to Saint Thomas Aquinas, ed. Anton C. Pegis ( New York: Modern Library, 1948), pp. 562-65.
The essential point involved here may be made as follows: "Few thinkers ever awoke to the theory that freedom is super determination rather than indetermination, and that its principle is more highly and more certainly formed than that of determinate causality; freedom proceeds, not from any weakness, any imperfection, any feature of potentiality on the part of the agent but, on the contrary, from a particular excellence in power, from a plenitude of being and an abundance of determination, from an ability to achieve mastery over diverse possibilities, from a strength of constitution which makes it possible to attain one's end in a variety of ways. In short, freedom is an active and dominating indifference. Whereas the line of spontaneity or 'from--within-ness' leads to the notion of the voluntary, it is the line of actuality in causal


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