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Ethics as a Work of CharityThomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue$
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David Decosimo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804790635

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804790635.001.0001

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The Other Face of Grace

The Other Face of Grace

(p.253) 10 The Other Face of Grace
Ethics as a Work of Charity

David Decosimo

Stanford University Press

Augustinians, Aristotelians, and even those who regard Thomas as pursuing transformative synthesis, imagine that when it comes to pagan virtue he chooses between Bishop and Philosopher, fidelity and welcome. This chapter argues that Thomas’s synthesis, his distinction drawing, and the honor he accords Aristotle, are expressions of charity. Thomas enacts the welcome of pagan virtue that he commends. He does so thanks to properly Christian commitments. For the sake of justice and charity, he also deploys fraternal correction, silently correcting his authorities’ errors. Even in treating pagan virtue itself, Thomas, driven by charity, manages to honor Augustine and Aristotle alike. Elucidating the book’s interpretive and normative lessons, the chapter contends that Thomas is more Augustinian than either Aristotelian interpreters or hyper-Augustinians imagine: for Thomas all virtue is a gift of God. His ethics – as substantive proposal, moral science, and way of life – is a work of charity.

Keywords:   fraternal correction, transformative synthesis, water into wine, grace, varieties of Augustinianism, distinction drawing, charity, John Milbank, friendship, function argument

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