* Previous issues of The Thomist can be accessed electronically through Project Muse

Volume 88, Number 1, (January 2024)


Abstract:The question of how two agents—creaturely and divine—can bring about one action has been a theological conundrum for ages. This article explores Thomas Aquinas’s view on God’s involvement in creaturely action by looking specifically at his doctrine of divine  application. What sort of action does God perform in creaturely action? After establishing a textual basis for a discussion of God’s action in creaturely action in Aquinas, the article discusses and evaluates three interpretations: (1) Robert Matava’s recent interpretation of divine application in terms of creation-conservation; (2) Reginald Garrigou-Langrange’s traditional interpretation in terms of physical premotion (praemotio physica); and (3) Bernard Lonergan’s interpretation in terms of Aristotelian premotion. The article then delineates the differences in the metaphysics of creaturely action. It argues that Aristotelian physical premotion provides a substantive alternative to the traditional account of physical premotion—an alternative that holds that divine application is motion and therefore does not reduce the divina applicatio to a dimension of creation-conservation.  

Key words: physical premotion (praemotio physica); divine application; primary and secondary causation; Aristotelian premotion; Thomas Aquinas; Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange; Bernard Lonergan; Robert Matava 

Abstract: This essay presents a new interpretation of the famous article on natural law in the Summa theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, I-II, q. 94, a. 2, as placed within the context of an classical understanding of beatitude and virtues, according to which the purpose of that article is, first, to set out the basis on which the Decalogue may be construed as a natural kind (a natural kind may be understood as a grouping which we are naturally constituted so as to view as a unity), and, second, to indicate the natural “joints" at which this unity is appropriately divided. The task of enumerating and accounting for the precepts within that natural kind is left for STh II-II, q. 122. The earlier article is deliberately planned with a view to the later article, and it is a mistake to read the structure or role of the later article into the earlier.

Keywords: Thomism; Aquinas; natural law; virtues; philosophy of law; Decalogue


Since around the middle of the twentieth century, the conviction of St. Thomas Aquinas that Jesus Christ enjoyed the beatific vision throughout his earthly lifetime, from the moment of his conception, has been much criticized in Catholic theology. More recently,

some followers of Aquinas, including Thomas Joseph White, O.P., and Simon Francis Gaine, O.P., have argued for Aquinas’s position but with different arguments from the one Aquinas proposed for his conclusion in the Summa theologiae. This article examines the

value of adding such arguments to Aquinas’s own in response to a different assessment of the arguments, proposed recently in The Thomist by Joshua Lim. It supports a reading of Aquinas’s argument in the Summa theologiae different from Lim’s presentation and in that light concludes that it cannot bear all the weight Lim attributes to it, thereby leaving more space for other arguments, such as those of White and Gaine, to participate in the debate. 

Keywords: Jesus Christ; Thomas Aquinas; beatific vision; Summa theologiae; principle of

the maximum; Incarnation

Book symposium: Thomas Osborne, "Thomas Aquinas on Virtue" 

Abstract: Thomas Osborne’s Thomas Aquinas on Virtue offers readers a judicious and comprehensive account of Aquinas’s teaching on infused and acquired virtues. Osborne puts that teaching in its original context by showing how Aquinas transforms the

Augustinian understanding of virtue found in Lombard’s Sentences by means of the recently rediscovered Aristotelian teaching on virtue. In drawing on the full range of Aquinas’s discussion of virtue, neglecting neither the Scripture commentaries nor Aristotle

commentaries, Osborne brings into a harmonious whole the obiter dicta remarks of Aquinas found in so many different works. It will be of great use to professors and graduate students seeking to understand the whole of this doctrine which is expressed in

so many different works in Aquinas’s opera omnia.  

Keywords: infused virtue; acquired virtue; natural virtue; faux virtue; skills

Abstract: This overview of Thomas Osborne’s Thomas Aquinas on Virtue opens by seeking to establish the context and relevance of the project, especially considering developments in contemporary analytic practical philosophy. Following a precis of the six chapters of

Osborne’s text, indicating some of the highlights of each, I close by hazarding a few evaluative comments especially around some of the questions that the book helpfully provokes about the limits of philosophical and theological inquiry in Aquinas’s understanding of virtue. 

Keywords: virtue; Thomas Aquinas; virtue ethics; philosophical ethics; moral theology

Abstract: This article is a reflection in response to reviews of my book, Thomas Aquinas on Virtue. I suggest that Thomas’s philosophy, especially as contained in the Summa theologiae, is simply the part of natural knowledge, scientific in the Aristotelian sense, that is needed for theology, and that this natural knowledge might be supplemented with what we have learned from the contemporary sciences. Moreover, new editions of historically significant texts allow us to better understand Thomas’s philosophical and theological achievements. Finally, Thomas’s account of virtue could be enriched through responding to problems raised in our contemporary cultural context and incorporating aspects of non-Western traditions of philosophical enquiry, such as Confucianism.

Key Words: Aquinas; Thomism; virtue; Confucian ethics; philosophy and theology


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