Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion

Article excerpt

The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion BY NICHOLAS E. LOMBARDO CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, 319 PAGES, $34.95

"Tell me what you think, not how you feel or what you love." Thus writes the ethics professor, semester after semester, in the margins of student papers. While this is salutary advice for lazy students who refuse to think, it may be deformative for those who are relying on well-formed affections to give them reliable moral intuitions. When it is precisely our moral thinking that is muddled, well-trained affections may give us just the hunch or insight we need to steer ourselves toward virtuous decisions. One thinker who champions this role for human affections is Thomas Aquinas, a philosophical theologian who is often demonized as unjustifiably legalistic. Fr. Nicholas Lombardo's The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion makes such criticisms unthinkable, showing in every chapter the central role of affection in Aquinas' thought.

Drawing on analytic philosophy, Christian theology, and the Thomist tradition, but eschewing the malevolent jargon plaguing these fields, Lombardo makes contributions to understanding Aquinas that will be useful to the educated nonacademic as well as to professional philosophers and theologians. He dedicates the bulk of his efforts to a philosophically and theologically sensitive reconstruction of Aquinas' account of affections, which he argues is roughly equivalent to the contemporary understanding of emotions.

Having read and digested thousands of pages of scholarly work, Lombardo weighs the plausibility of alternative interpretations and presents the results in a lively and readable form. …

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