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On Thoughts of Rationalized Passion of Thomas Aquinas

Author: HuangChao
Tutor: DuanDeZhi
School: Wuhan University
Course: Religious Studies
Keywords: Thomas Aquinas Passion Rationalized Will
CLC: B97
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2005
Downloads: 534
Quote: 3
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Participating in the reason, or rationalized passion, is the most essential character of Thomas’s passion theory.Thomas Aquinas, the most famous philosopher in the Medieval European, divided soul’s appetitive power into intellectual appetite and sense appetite. The intellectual appetite was considered as will, whereas the latter represented for passion. What is appetite? In Thomas’s opinion, all finite being have the potential to actively incline to one purpose. This purpose exists on that it is the good which accommodated with being’s form. One’s appetite includes three layers’ meanings: firstly, seeking what it does not possess, secondly, loving for one’s possession, and thirdly, delighting in what it does possess. In one word, although Thomas’s passion theory mainly embodies in the forms of human being’s sentiment, its meaning has headed and shouldered the average sentiment we could understand. To precisely catch on Thomas’ passion theory, one should merge it with his will theory. Thomas considers that the will is moved by intellect, and longs for universal, abstract and non-physical good. On the contrast, the passion is moved by sense, and long for particular, concrete, and physical good. So, from the point of view of the dialectic relationship between universality and particularity, Thomas’s passion theory may be regarded as the important component of generalized will theory. This kind of understanding not only gets hold of the essential of Thomas’s passion theory, but also is the major idea of this paper.The relationship between reason and passion is the eternal topic of western moral theory. In ancient Greek myth, the gods are full of passion. But in Socrates’ theory, the gods are only the rational gods without any passion. Till Plato, Socrates’ most important pupil, who compared the soul to carriage, the passion comes forth as a non-rational horse with black and white hair. Aristotle inherits and amends his teacher’s theory by claiming that the passion has participating in the reason to some degree. In Aristotle’s theory, the intellect dominates passion by a politic and royalpower, it is more like political rule on freeman by the emperor rather than the despotism on slave by the owner. The Stoic goes further. They contribute all passion to evil for that they considered the passion is radical reason and only wrong reason.In Christian father-theology, the collision between reason and passion is represented by the contradiction between the love for god and the love for human being. Cathars’s good and evil dualism brings a crisis to father-theology in thirteenth century. To oppose Cathars, Dominicans strongly claimed that material takes an active part in the process of the human being’s regression to the God. They made the affirmation that passion is the analogy of the God’s love, which has become the background of Thomas’s passion theory. Thomas Aquinas amends the Stoic’s asceticism through explaining Aristotle’s political rule in a creative way. He put forward the idea of rational passion, which is the important part of his moral idea.Thomas merged human being’s cognition power with appetite power. He pointed out that there would be none appetite without cognition. The will is intellectual appetite, or, in Aristotle’s word, the intellectual appetite or appetitive intellect. The passion is the appetite put forward by sense, and is owned by human and other animal mutually. So is it any difference between human’s passion and animal’s passion? Thomas answered this question with YES. He asserted that human’s passion differ from animal’s passion for that the non-rational animals’ passive activity came from inevitability of itself but for free select. But in man, in so far as it participates in the reason, passion is the principle of a human act. Furthermore, he pointed out that human’s passion has become a rational capability due to the participation in the reason. In such a sense, the passion is the main subjects of virtue. As the first humanistic passion idea, Thomas enlighten greatly the ethical theory after him.The most creative part in Thomas’ passion theory is his "particular reason". Through analyzing the correlation of psychological structure between reason and passion, and absorbing advanced psychology research result in his times, Thomas put forward that there exists a specific function which set up on the basis of other sense capability in human’s middle brain. He call it particular reason, which is grounded on the oneness of his epistemic. Keeping to Aristotle’s epistemological method, Thomasasserts the species intelligibilis should be abstracted from sense phantasm. Whereas abstract knowledge is ubiquitous, intellect must return to the phantasm. One important function of particular reason is to connect ubiquitous concept with specific phantasm, which brings intellect return to the phantasm, and upgrade it to the layer of consciousness. Moreover, phantasm is the formal object of passion. The formal object affects definitively on passion, so the passion has also participative in the reason. The result is that, the intellect illuminates and perfects passion, and the dominate affect of reason on passion is finished through particular reason’s internal dialogue, where the passion has also a nature internal incline of obedience to reason due to the latter’s participative reason. Some afterworld philosopher’s theory, such as Descartes’s"pineal body", Shaftesbury’s "interior sense------moral sense", and Hume’s"sympathy", may find their rudiments from Thomas’ particular reason.Being soul’s sense appetite, Passion represents the individual human being’s real state outstandingly. On one hand, being for its participated reason, passion could obedient initiatively to reason. On the other hand, passion is impulsed by imagination and sense, so it may be differ from reason, or oppose reason indeed. In a sense, This passion idea with internal tensility is in deed Thomas’ will-free theory, which cast enlightening light on aftertime sentiment and will theory.Because passion has participated reason, rational passion becomes the humanity basis of ethical acts. As human’s voluntary acts, passion has ethical good and evil. Passion’s virtue is a habit of choosing the mean, so, the concupiscible faculty, subject of "Temperance," and the irascible faculty, subject of "Fortitude."Through the rational passion’s theory, Thomas compromised the relation between reason, will and passion, and so, his ethics has a specific property of harmonious and consistent. But, he stressed that the theological virtues is the last end of the moral virtues, so, when he faced the conflict and contradiction between the theologization and humanism of religion ethics, he chose the first firmly. This choice causes that in his ethics Thomas dissevers will and passion to some degree, however, the result of it is not at all negative. Just because of its disseverance, Thomas’ passion theory slips the leash of theology to a great extent. He actually reviews the passionwith humanity, and on which forms his humane characteristic passion theory. This two-faced ethical theory affect greatly the development of many theories. On the one hand, Thomas’ will theory becomes the classical branch of the ethical theory for Christian theology. On the other hand, his passion theory has been used for important theoretic reference for aftertime humanism moral theory. Many of his ideas, especially the analysis for the psychological structure of rationalized passion, the definite ensuring the passion as the main subject of ethical acts, and the influence sentiment theory after Middle Ages should never be underestimated. Till today, Thomas’ passion theory is still used by new Thomist scholars and Roman Catholic with little modification to interpret modern theoretic and realistic issues.

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