Political Writings

By Thomas Aquinas; R. W. Dyson | Go to book overview

6
War, sedition and killing

(a) Summa theologiae IIa IIae 40:Onwar
We come next to war; and here there are four things to consider:
1. Whether it is a sin to wage war
2. Whether it is lawful for clerics to fight
3. Whether it is lawful for those who wage war to make use of ambushes
4. Whether it is lawful to wage war on holy days

articulus 1: Whether it is always a sin to wage war

It seems that it is always as in to wage war.

obiectio 1: For punishment is not inflicted for anything except sin. But those who wage war are threatened by the Lord with punishment, according to Matthew 26:52: 'All that take the sword shall perish by the sword.' Therefore all war is unlawful.

obiectio 2: Moreover, whatever is contrary to a Divine precept is a sin. But to wage war is contrary to a Divine precept, for it is said at Matthew 5:39: 'But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil', and at Romans 12:19: 'Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath.' Therefore to wage war is always a sin.

obiectio 3: Moreover, nothing is contrary to an act of virtue except sin. But war is contrary to peace. Therefore war is always a sin.

obiectio 4: Moreover, every kind of legitimate contest is lawful, as is clear in the case of contests of reason.1 But the martial contests which take place in tournaments are prohibited by the Church, for those who die in

____________________
1
I.e. the disputations which formed so important a part of the medieval university education. See, e.g., L. J. Daly, The Medieval University, 1200–1400 (New York, 1961).

-239-

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Political Writings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xv
  • Abbreviations xvi
  • Introduction xvii
  • A Brief Chronology of St Thomas's Life xxxvii
  • Bibliography xxxviii
  • 1 - Government and Politics 1
  • 2 - Obedience 57
  • 3 - Law 76
  • 4 - Right, Justice and Judgment1 158
  • 5 - Property Relations 205
  • 6 - War, Sedition and Killing 239
  • 7 - Religion and Politics 267
  • Biographical Glossary 279
  • Index 297
  • Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought *
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