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"Aristotle's eudaimonia in Aquinas' moral philosophy : a critical study."

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This thesis intends to explore the argument among scholars as to whether Aquinas merely Christianises (baptises) Aristotle’s concept of eudemonia in his moral philosophy or whether he substantially develops and transforms it beyond what Aristotle originally presents in his main ethical works of Nicomachean Ethics, Magna Moralia and the Eudemian Ethics. It is true that Aquinas relies on and uses a number of Aristotle’s ethical views, yet he is able to develop and transcend Aristotle. However, the aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that Aquinas does not only adopt or incorporate Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia (happiness) into his moral philosophy, but he goes beyond what Aristotle envisages in his ethics. For Aristotle, happiness is the reward for the virtuous activity of the rational soul, the highest good (end) to which all things aim. However, for Aquinas, happiness is the participation in the beatific vision of the First and Final Act, he calls God. Happiness, for Aquinas, in the proper sense of the word, cannot be attained in this life since no created goods can satisfy the unsearchable wants and desires of the human being in this life. Hence, Aquinas transcends Aristotle’s moral, socio-political, natural and temporary kind of happiness to develop his metaphysical, ontological, theological and supernatural kind of happiness. Chapter one introduces and sets the boundaries of the thesis. Chapter two explores the debate among scholars as to whether Aquinas Christianises Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia or not. Chapter three examines the fundamental principles in Aristotle’s ethics (moral Philosophy) with the emphasis on understanding the human being. Chapter four explores Aristotle’s overview of the concept of eudaimonia (happiness). Chapter five looks at Aquinas’ basic moral philosophical framework with the emphasis on human nature as well as the participation in the “Divine” Nature. Chapter six examines Aquinas’ concept of virtue, which is a development of Aristotle’s virtue ethics. Chapter seven investigates Aquinas’ notion of happiness, as he goes beyond Aristotle’s eudaimonia. Chapter eight concludes and highlights the standpoint of this thesis.


M.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2015.


Aristotle., Aristotle.--Eudemian ethics., Thomas,--Aquinas, Saint,--1225?-1274., Common good., Philosophy., Theses--Philosophy.