Jacques Maritain Center: Ethics Without God?

God's role in Aquinas's ethical thought

Tuesday, July 15
Afternoon session
Giacomo Samek Lodovici

This paper focuses on the role of God in Aquinas' ethical thought. After recalling the difference between moral theology and moral philosophy, I will show that Thomistic moral philosophy can leave God out of consideration only at the beginning, when it prescribes the ends of the first inclinations of human nature. Then, however, it cannot do without God for many reasons. First of all, because there is a specific inclination to God's love. Second, because ethics must assume God as the architectonic end that gives order to the multiplicity of inclinations. Since a human act is good and virtuous when it is consistent with God's love, every act of the will must be directed to God as the ultimate end. Third, and most importantly, God cannot be omitted from ethics because it is not the science of duties and obligations but of happiness. God's love makes us happy more than anything else because love is the human act most connatural to man, and because the divine Person is the good that is most suitable to human nature, which is essentially open, omnium capax. This metaphysical argument is confirmed by the phenomenological analysis of the feeling of disappointment.