Jacques Maritain Center: Ethics Without God?

The Divine in Aquinas’s Commentary on the Ethics: Can we be Good without God?

Monday, July 14
Afternoon session
Christopher Kaczor

Thomas Aquinas's Sententia libri ethicorum makes more than 180 references to God, the First Mover, or the Divine. Although most references to the divine play only tangential roles, some references to the divine play a pivotal role in the argument, and it is these passages that I would like to examine at greater length. First, I will bring forward a number of passages in which God plays a central role, but show why the wider argument presented in the Sententia libri ethicorum does not depend on such passages. Secondly, I will bring forward passages that indicate that knowledge of God does not play an important role in ethical knowledge. My conclusion is that although the moral life as presented in this work is definitely compatible with belief in God, theistic belief is not a necessary component or required prerequisite for the account of the moral life presented in the Sententia libri ethicorum.