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Contingency and Fortune in Aquinas's Ethics (Cambridge Studies in Religion and Critical Thought) Hardcover – June 28, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0521620192 ISBN-10: 0521620198

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Religion and Critical Thought (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521620198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521620192
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,318,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...this is a collection that should be in every theological library as well as on the bookshelf of every ecumenist." John T. Ford, Religious Studies Review

"Contingecy and Fortune in Aquinas's Ethics is a superb and masterful study....a challenging, provocative, and engaging book....Few works in Aquinas's ethics have been as expertly researched and as carefully argued as this one. Bowlin argues convincingly for a new reading of how Aquinas understood the virtues. Scholars of Aquinas are indebted to him and, I suspect, will be conversing with him, and learning from him, in the years ahead." Modern Theology

...well worth reading..." Theological Studies

Book Description

Bowlin argues that the strength of Aquinas's moral theology is his assumption about our common lot: the good we desire is difficult to know and to will, particularly because of contingencies of various kinds--within ourselves, in the ends and objects we pursue, and in the circumstances of choice. Since contingencies are fortune's effects, Aquinas insists that fortune makes good choice difficult. Bowlin explores Aquinas's treatment of virtue, agency, and happiness in this context, and places him more precisely in the history of ethics, among Aristotle, Augustine, and the Stoics.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Morrison on March 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you want a better understanding of virtue theory, or ethics in general, this book should definitely be on your reading list. Bowlin argues that Aquinas' view of the virtues is that they are functional in nature--that is, that they help us interact with the world around us and make the right choice in any given situation.

Extremely important to this is the idea that nothing, except God, is good in and of itself, but rather that things are contingently good. That is, what may be good in one case may not be good in another (thus, consider the old dilemma of lying to a killer to save your family). While deontologists and teleologists have spent their time trying to work out some sort of objective methodology to account for such variations, Aristotelians, like Aquinas, can rely on the virtues to help them perceive the right order and respond accordingly.

In light of this, Bowlin does an excellent job defending the fact of contingency in moral issues and its relation to the virtues, especially courage (though the others are not ignored). He also fairly deals with three main objections to his view: whether or not Aquinas actually held it, whether such a view robs life of joy by insisting on constant toil, and whether such a view is inherently unfair since people have different experiences in life and thus different chances at developing the virtues.

In the end, classical Thomists will find a solid defense for their view. Those of Augustinian, Stoic, or Kantian persuasions, and even some Thomists like Geisler who hold to a different interpretation of virtue ethics, will find the arguments worth considering. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely stunning book ... recommended to both traditional readers of Aquinas and those riding the wave of Neo-Thomism from analytic philosophy as a singular achievement. Coupled with Westberg's book for the more fine-grained details, this book provides a remarkable entry point and overview of Aquinas that divorces him from the "top-down" Natural Law theorist interpretation that plagues the study of Aquinas everywhere today. Aquinas is not a theorist who presents virtue as a response to a massive system of natural law that God put into place in the universe as if it were a logical consequence; rather, virtue is for dealing with the contingencies of life, which natural law principles offer no practical guidance towards.
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