Aquinas on Concord: "Concord Is a Union of Wills, Not of Opinions"

By Porzecanski, Daniel Schwartz | The Review of Metaphysics, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Aquinas on Concord: "Concord Is a Union of Wills, Not of Opinions"


Porzecanski, Daniel Schwartz, The Review of Metaphysics


IN AT LEAST SIX PLACES AQUINAS WRITES: "Concord is a union of wills, not of opinions." (1) This dictum is problematic because one would think that without some union of opinions, union of wills can not obtain. This article seeks to clarify the meaning of this dictum and to show that it does not imply that shared opinions are unnecessary for concord.

Before proceeding it is important to advert to a tempting but probably false lead: to read "opinion" against the background of the distinction between the different modes of cognition (opinion, science, understanding, and faith). (2) In his dictum, Aquinas does not seem to be using the term "opinion" in this specialized manner but rather as a general term to refer to beliefs. (3)

I

To examine concord as a feature of Aquinas's account of friendship one must start by looking at the dynamics of love. It was an accepted view, originating in Neoplatonism and influential in Christian mysticism, that love involves a certain movement toward a unity between the lover and the loved. When, in In III Sent, d. 27, q. 2, a. 1, Aquinas introduces "concord" as the fourth characteristic of reciprocal well-wishing and equates it with "union of wills," this must be read in its proper context: as one of the sorts of union that is part of the dynamics of love. (4)

In ST I-II, q. 28, a. 1c, Aquinas distinguishes between two kinds of unions between lovers: real (physical closeness to each other) and affective. The affective union is love, and it puts in motion the process toward real union, which is an effect of love. (5) Affective union consists in some sort of apprehension and can take two shapes. In erotic love the lover apprehends the beloved as part of his own well-being. In love of friendship, unlike in erotic love, we do not have an expansion of the self such that it comes to encompass our friend's well-being. (6) Rather, what matters is that we perceive the friend as a like.

Earlier, in ST I-II, q. 27, a. 3c, Aquinas is busy explaining how likeness (similitudo) "causes" love. (7) There he argues that likeness consists in the "sharing of one form," so two persons alike "are in some way one in that form," just as two human beings "are one in their belonging to the human species." He then goes on to say that, in this manner, "the love of one goes to the other as toward himself, and wills him good as he wills to himself." (8) From this it follows that the union which is sought after in love of friendship consists in having certain alikeness (that is, sharing in one form or uniformity). (9)

Aquinas's discussions of concord are placed within discussion of two kinds of relationships: (1) the relationship between lover and beloved, and (2) the relationship between those who pursue a common end (or love the same person). (10)

I start by looking at (1) as discussed in In III Sent, d. 27, q. 1, a. 1c. A loves B. This apparently carries the consequence that the will of B becomes a sort of directing rule (regula operas) for A. (11) But what does it mean for the will of the beloved to become a directive rule for the lover? There Aquinas argues that when the appetite or affection (affectus) fixes itself on an object apprehended as good, the loved good impresses its form on the appetite or affect of the lover, not unlike the way intelligible forms impress their form on the intellect. The fact that the beloved impresses its form on the lover's appetite creates a kind of union: "the lover is one with the beloved, who is made into the form of the lover." (12) In this fashion, as Aquinas says, love can be said to be "transformative." (13)

Things move (and human beings act) in accordance with their form (unumquodque autem agit secundum exigentiam suae formae). In the case of human beings, this form--namely, the end we are after is both our principle of action and a rule of our works (principium agendi et regula operis). Thus, the lover whose affection is informed by the beloved becomes inclined by love to act according to what is required by (the form of) the beloved (exigentiam amanti). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Aquinas on Concord: "Concord Is a Union of Wills, Not of Opinions"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.