On the Virtues
On the Virtues
In light of current interest in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, rediscovery of the work of John Capreolus (1380-1444) is particularly important. Known to the Renaissance theologians who succeeded him as "prince of Thomists," he established a mode of Thomistic theological and philosophical engagement that has set the pattern for Thomistic thinkers after him. Twentieth-century scholarship on Capreolus tended to focus on questions concerning metaphysics, the person, and the beatific vision. The purpose of the present translation of his questions on the virtues is to bring to the fore another aspect of his thought, his theological ethics.
Capreolus's great work, his Arguments in Defense of the Theology of St. Thomas, constitutes a significant juncture in the history of Western theology. In one respect it is an exercise in the traditional genre of question-commentaries on Peter Lombard's Book of Sentences, a twelfth-century work that had been the official textbook of theology at the University of Paris. In Capreolus's hands, however, the format of the traditional Sentences commentary itself becomes a pretext for accomplishing a purpose more original than that of any preceding commentator on Lombard's work, namely to defend the thought of Aquinas against his late thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century adversaries, including John Duns Scotus, Durandus of St. Pourçain, and Peter Aureole.
The selection from Capreolus's work represented in this translation shows him defending Aquinas's conclusions on faith, hope, charity, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the virtues against such adversaries. With a spirit of generosity in quotation, Capreolus lets each adversary have his say, but the outcome of the disputes is never in question, as Capreolus on each point leads the reader towards a view of the superiority of the Thomistic position.