Video: Haldane on the moral foundations of Thomism

This is the plenary, given by Prof John Haldane, for the Academy 2014, hosted by Institute of Ideas in London. The topic is a general introduction and summary of the moral implications of Thomism. Haldane briefly introduces us to the voluminous work of Aquinas, whose works constitute the largest corpus of all Western philosophers, and to his style of writing, largely dictated to scribes, often different works simultaneously, as he would round each corner of the chapter house, where the scribes would be seated.

He also points out the different centres of interest between premodern and modern ethical/moral theories, reminding us that premodern theories did not take it as evident that there are such things as duties (the accompanying difference is often represented nowadays as a distinction between the good and the right). Pre-modern theories were concerned in providing answers to at least two questions: How ought I to live? And, What is the good, excellent, or fitting life? Importantly, also, the “I”, in the first question refers to the human being understood as a kind and not as an individual instance; in other words, “How am I, a rational creature, to live? And, the second question is to be read as, What is the good, excellent, or fitting life for a rational animal?

The Q&A begins at 55 mins into the video, and covers questions relating to the difference between consciousness and intellect, the alleged ‘fact/ value distinction’, and the like, and is well worth listening to as well.

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