WINNER OF THE 2006 CHARLES CARDINAL JOURNET PRIZE awarded by The Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University
What is the relationship between charity and knowledge in the theology of Thomas Aquinas? Did Aquinas in his mature thought portray charity's act as antecedent to and independent of practical reasoning? Did he view charity's motion as rendering us morally good before God, apart from whether or not we do what is right in our actions? A dominant stream in contemporary Catholic ethics holds for precisely such a concept of charity, and many recent commentators on Aquinas maintain that this is his position as well. According to Michael S. Sherwin however, the contrary is in fact the case.
By Knowledge and By Love represents a major contribution to Thomistic moral theology and philosophy by providing a thoughtful examination of Aquinas' psychology of action and his theology of charity. Through a comprehensive analysis of the relation between intellect and will, knowledge and love, and charity and the infused intellectual virtues, Sherwin concludes that, far from divorcing the will from reason, Aquinas in his later works integrates reason and will more closely together.
Saint Augustine says, "No one can love what he does not know." According to Sherwin, Aquinas holds that God's grace respects and elevates this dynamic in the gift of charity, which depends on faith's knowledge, and on the knowledge provided by the other infused cognitive virtues and gifts. Charity is a virtue, and like any virtue its acts require some knowledge of their object. Sherwin argues that not only is this a faithful reading of Aquinas, it also has profound implications for any conception of moral development. The role of a mentoring community, the characteristics of friendship with God, and the specific actions required by love all play a part in Sherwin's analysis.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michael S. Sherwin, O.P., is Associate Professor of Fundamental Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
"The book is a carefully composed and detailed explication of a key aspect of St. Thomas's moral thought—the precise relation between intellect and will in human action. But it is more than that. Fr. Sherwin besides giving us an accurate and comprehensive account of St. Thomas's thought on this important subject, and doing so with admirable clarity and control, accompanies that account with commentary which is richly interlaced with revealing and cogent analysis... By Knowledge and By Love is a sound and substantive book. Besides being in its own right an impressive and valuable contribution to Thomistic scholarship, by devoting attention to an important and timely aspect of St. Thomas's moral theology, it performs the very important service of correcting serious misinterpretations of the Angelic Doctor's thought."—Dennis Q. McInerny, Homiletic and Pastoral Review
"[An] informed, lucid and readable book."—Gabriele De Anna, The Medieval Review
"By Knowledge and by Love is as readable as it is learned. Serenely and evenhandedly, Michael Sherwin leads us to see how, for St. Thomas, charity is both a matter and a mover of choice; how, being free, it must be intelligible; how, enlivening the heart, it must also steer counsel and rectify conduct. There should be no more talk of a Thomas who detaches will from reason."—Stephen L. Brock, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"What is it for the intellect to know God? What is it for the will to be moved by the love of God? Aquinas' answers to these questions presuppose a psychology of will and intellect, an analysis of practical reasoning, and a theology of faith and of charity. Sherwin has provided a wonderfully illuminating study of the development and structure of Aquinas' thought on thes