Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Love is Virtue's Glue

IN HIS TREATMENT OF THE VIRTUES in his Summa de bono, Philip the Chancellor asks the question whether one must have all the virtues or none at all. With respect to the infused virtues, Philip raises a possible objection to their unity. He notes that charity is often called the form of all the virtues, and this might be understood as being that "just as charity is one specific kind of virtue, so are the others." In other words, charity is one virtue just like justice, for example, is another. If virtue is defined as "a good quality of mind which God produces in us without our help," which is how Peter Lombard in his Sentences defined it (Sent. 2 d. 27.1.1,2:480), then there is no requirement that the virtues be united or connected.

Moreover, since charity, unlike justice of the other cardinal virtues, is strictly an infused virtue (there being no such thing as a natural or "political" charity), it does not seem that charity could be the glue that binds the virtues into one. "[C]harity as charity is not the cause why the virtues are connected, since it is not found in political virtue."

The Cardinal Virtues by Antonio Pollaiuolo 
at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.

In addressing these objections to the unity of the virtues, Philip the Chancellor starts by distinguishing charity. He observes that charity may be taken to mean at least two things. First, it may be understood as a "specific virtue." It also may be taken not as a determinate virtue, but in the general sense of love, and so "the reason for and cause of every virtue."

If charity is understood as a specific virtue, then it divides the genus of virtue, and is one specific virtue among other specif virtues.  "Since one species of virtue is not the reason for or cause for another, in this respect charity is not the cause  the reason for the other virtues, nor is it the immediate cause of the connection among the virtues."

But charity should not be so narrowly construed.  Rather, charity should be viewed not only as a specific virtue, but as "general love."  It is understood broadly that charity is the "reason for and cause of every virtue."  This is how St. Augustine understands it in his treatise on the morals of the Catholic Church, De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae.  In that work, St. Augustine defines every other species of virtue by means of love.  (This part of St. Augustine's work merits quotation in full:

As to virtue leading us to a happy life, I hold virtue to be nothing else than perfect love of God. For the fourfold division of virtue I regard as taken from four forms of love. For these four virtues (would that all felt their influence in their minds as they have their names in their mouths !), I should have no hesitation in defining them: that temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it. The object of this love is not anything, but only God, the chief good, the highest wisdom, the perfect harmony. So we may express the definition thus: that temperance is love keeping itself entire and incorrupt for God; fortitude is love bearing everything readily for the sake of God; justice is love serving God only, and therefore ruling well all else, as subject to man; prudence is love making a right distinction between what helps it towards God and what might hinder it.

De mor., 15.25.)

The specific virtue of charity should be distinguished from general charity.  Specific charity or love "has the same thing for its matter and its end, since it loves the highest good for its own sake."  On the other hand, general charity, "has one thing for its matter and another for its end."  General charity "has some good which is a way to God for its matter," but it has "God himself, who is the highest good, for its end."

Philip the Chancellor then outlines the scheme of grace, charity, and the virtues.  The first thing we must keep in mind is grace.  Grace is the first thing to keep in mind since it is grace which prompts charity and makes it grow.  Grace is then the cause of both specific charity and general love.  All the virtues are referable to charity:

[W]ithouth this love [of God engendered by grace] prudence would not be a virtue, nor would justice, nor anything else. Therefore [general love] is called the reason for and immediate cause of every [infused] virtue. For the same thing can be said of faith and hope. Charity, however, as love, agrees with general love, but it differs, however, as was said, because it has a different matter from general love, that is, God. They also agree in having the same end, namely, God, and because there would be no general love if there were no specific love, this union in their end comes from specific different matters for these virtues, and different acts, nevertheless they are immediately united in general love, and from this union it follows immediately that whoever has one virtue has all.
For Philip the Chancellor, it is general love engendered by grace that is the glue which cements all infused virtues, not only the cardinal virtues, but also the theological virtues.  These virtues are all connected by general love which has one end, the highest good, which is God.  As additional support for his teaching that general love or charity binds all the virtues together, Philip cites to St. Paul's letter to the Colossians, where he admonishes Christians to "above all these put on love, which is the bond of perfection."  That is also why the Gloss on this states that "Charity connects all the others [of the virtues], so they are not missing."

This is why whoever has one virtue, since he does not have it without charity, and love of every good follows on charity, as a consequence he has love of every good and so has every virtue. For the same reason, it follows that no vice, since if it has love of rendering to each what is his own, lacks it its opposite vice; and in the same way, however has love of moderation lacks the opposing vice. But whoever has one love, since he has it together with charity, has every love. Therefore, he must necessarily lack every opposed vice.

If general love is sufficient to assure that one has all the infused theological virtues and cardinal virtues, the question naturally raises itself: is general charity alone enough to assure us salvation?  Do all the infused theological virtues and cardinal virtues follow in the general love of God?

In answering that question, we will round up and complete Philip the Chancellor's treatment of virtues in his work Summa de bono.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Unity of the Infused Cardinal Virtues

PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR explores those authorities and arguments which suggest the possibility that one can have one  virtue without having all virtues.  He begins with a saying attributed to St. Augustine (but whose source he has been unable to find).  "As one can possess one virtue more than another, so one can possess one virtue but not another."  To counter this authority, Philip suggests that  the foundation of the argument is wrong in because it confuses possessing more of a virtue with making more use of a virtue.  Therefore, the fact that one might make more use of a virtue (and therefore give the appearance of possessing more of that virtue) does not mean that one can possess one virtue, but not another.

In one of his letters to St. Jerome (Ep. 167:3.10), St. Augustine states that the opinion that "whoever has one has all" is only an opinion held by some men, albeit great men.  This suggests that St. Augustine may have been implying that the argument was false.  Philip rejects this implied negative.  He interprets St. Augustine's reference to the opinions of men as an effort to distinguish between reason (which he describes as the "footprint of God") and faith (those things about which it is written "unless you believe you shall not understand").  By referring to men, St. Augustine was referring to reason, and not to revelation or faith.  And so the upshot of his statement is that the unity of the virtues is something that is not only understood as being part of the faith, but is also something that is understood as true by the use of reason.

The Cardinal Virtues

The third seemingly contrary argument is again from authority attributed to St. Augustine (in a text, the source of which Philip was unable to locate).  "As our body climbing out of a pit is not illuminated all at once," says St. Augustine, "so our soul climbing out of sin is not illuminated all at once."  Since St. Augustine appears to be adopting a law of gradualism with respect to sin, one can infer that he would adopt a law of gradualism with respect to virtue.  Philip observes that the implication is not necessary.  First, one can interpret the image of gradually coming to light as not applying to different faculties, so that reason is illuminated first, and then only the affections, so that the gradual enlightening is not of a priority of nature (which is perfected by grace and therefore has all the infused virtues, if in a state of grace, and none if it is outside a state of grace), but not a priority in time.  In other words, grace (and the infused virtues) take time to work in the nature of man; but that does not mean that the virtues are not there working to synthesize reason and affection.  The other interpretation is that St. Augustine is referring not to the existence of virtues (which cannot be piecemeal), but to their use (which may be piecemeal).

Philip next draws from scriptural interpretations as found in the marginal glosses.  For example, the gloss on Mark 8:24 (regarding the blind man who does not see all at once, but sees men at first as trees walking) is that the cure out of spiritual blindness does not occur all at once, but with "difficulty, as though step by step." If this is applied to virtues, then it suggests that one progressively acquires the infused virtues and therefore they are not "one in all and all in one."  Here, there is a sort of a law of gradualism in the virtues, but not a gradualism of the law in virtues.  "[W]hoever leaves darkness does not immediately see distinctly and fully, but with confusion.  His spiritual cure is understood to be perfect, through infusion of the virtues, yet certain remnants of sin remain, for example, in our memory and such powers, and even certain impediments [to virtue] remain, for which reason he [the blind man in the Gospel story] is said not to see fully."

Another gloss, this one on Job 38:24 ("through what way is the light dispensed?") construes that scriptural verse as follows: "Say by the way, that is, by what order do I infuse justice, with now this and now that virtue I complete [it]."  This suggests that virtues are not given all at once in the infused soul.  But this is mistaken in Philip's view, because the gloss should be interpreted to refer to the use of virtue, and not to the infused virtues being present in the soul.

The next argument is based upon reason.  It focuses on the cause of the infused virtues and their interconnectivity and comparison to vice and the interconnectivity of vice.  But to this, Philip the Chancellor states as follows:

In reality it is true, as is said in the argument that whoever has one virtues has no vice, so likewise, whoever has one vice has no virtue, not because of a connection among the vices but because of a connection among the virtues. The connection among the virtues, as the objection says, is not owing to their efficient cause [i.e., God], nor is it owing to some common effect, like making us worthy of eternal life. Rather, it comes from an intrinsic cause existing in the virtues themselves, as will be shown.
The final argument* is based upon reason.  It argues that since each act performed under the influence of infused virtue merits eternal life, then, if one were to subtract out the other virtues unnecessary to that act which merits eternal life, one would still merit eternal life.  This suggests that the infused virtues are not a "one in all and all in one" type of thing.  To this argument, Philip observes that though one act of one virtue can merit eternal life, "yet based on one virtue along one cannot be worthy of eternal life [by God's grace], which one can achieve, even without any meritorious act, as in the case of [baptized] children."  Likewise, "even though one actually can gain merit by one virtue without the rest, one cannot be worthy [by God's grace] of eternal life without being worthy [again by God's grace] of he other virtue."  For this reason, "the connection of the virtues is not based on merit, but rather on worthiness [which is dependent upon God's grace]."

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*Philip the Chancellor discusses the seventh objection at great length, and we shall treat it in our next blog posting separately.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: On the Unity of the Infused Virtues

PHILIP THE CHANCELLOR explores the issue of the unity of the cardinal virtues from he perspective of the infused virtues. While he seems to hold the traditional doctrine that the person who has one natural or acquired virtue must have them all, and the one who must be truly virtuous must have all the natural or acquired virtues, it does not follow that this is true for the infused virtues, even for those infused or supernatural virtues are those parallel to the natural or acquired cardinal virtues.

There are a number of proof texts which Philip the Chancellor invokes as authority that the "one-in-all" theory.  Drawing on St. Jerome's gloss on Ezekiel 1:11 ("And their faces, and their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined, and two covered their bodies"), Philip noted that St. Jerome stated as to Ezekiel: "He [Ezekiel] said the four virtues are joined to each other so that whoever lacks one lacks all."  (Glossa marg., 4: 1076C).

Similarly, St. Jerome advocates this view in his commentary on Isaiah 16:11 ("Wherefore my bowels shall sound like a harp for Moab, and my inward parts for the brick wall.").  "As a lyre does not emit its complex sound if one of its strings is broken, so if one string of the virtues is absent, it will not resonate sweetly."  Later in the commentary, St. Jerome analogizes the infused virtues to acquired virtues by noting that the "philosophers" held that the acquired virtues "stick together."  He also compares the infused virtues to the moral law and cites St. James' statement (James 2:10) in his epistle ("And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all."), suggesting that the infused virtues are, like the law, something that must be "one-in-all."  (Glossa marg., 4:181B)

Philip also turns to Pope St. Gregory the Great's Moralia in Job. Therein, St. Gregory notes: "None is truly a virtue if not mixed with the other virtues," and observes, further, that "to the extent that one virtue is joined to another are good deeds more enkindled."*  St. Gregory, like St. Jerome, also interprets James 2:10 as providing evidence that failing "in one point destroys many good deeds," and puts one "outside charity and any other virtue."

In addition to these arguments from authority, St. Philip also brings forth some arguments from reason applied to the faith (in a sort of analogia fidei) that suggest that the infused virtues have an "all in one, one in all" character.  One argument draws from Christ's redemption and its effect on the human soul: "[T]he Lord is a physician who heals no one in part, but wholly."  Since healing comes from the infused virtues, it follows that "all the virtues are infused together."

In another of his arguments based upon analogia fidei (and implicitly drawing from St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians), Philip the Chancellor looks at the notion of glory and of merit before God: "If grace makes a human worthy of glory," it is because the "human becomes grace before God through virtue given by grace."  "But God is good to the highest degree," Philip notes, and this has implications: "Therefore, there will be no commerce with Belial in one and the same soul."  The conclusion is that "a human will not be graced before God unless possessing the habits of all the virtues; otherwise, there would be commerce between Christ and Belial in one and the same soul."***

The Four Cardinal Virtues in the Paseo del Ayuntamiento, Xalapa, Veracruz, 
by Armando Zavaleta León and Enrrique Guerra

Yet again, Philip argues that if grace makes us worthy of the light glory, and the light of glory (in heaven) "is remuneration and complete happiness," then it seems that "free will is infused with the virtues," and this suggests that one must be infused with all the virtues or none at all.  "For how could desire by worthy of eternity if it did not have meritorious habit, and emotion, and reason as well."  "From this it is clear," Philip concludes, "that whoever has one virtue has all."

In a similar argument, Philip notes that the only part of man that can be reformed by grace is that part within us that is made in the image of God.  The "uncreated Trinity" reforms the "created trinity," and so the soul is measured by the Trinity when it is reformed.  It is obviously unbecoming for the work of the Trinity in the human soul to be incomplete.  "Therefore, in the trinity of powers [in the soul], nothing is left behind lacking reformation, something which happens only by receiving the fullness of all the virtues."

Finally, Philip argues from sin: a virtue without grace and a mortal sin exist together in the rational soul.  "Nonetheless, a virtue of this sort and a mortal sin of this sort are not immediately present together."  The reason for this is that "because if one does not possess the continence [an infused virtue] which comes from grace, it does not following that he possesses the opposing incontinence."  Why this is so is that one can lose the infused virtue of continence "due to another vice, such as avarice."  But if one vice tarnishes the whole, does that mean that there is a "connection among the vices"?  No, there is no such connection among the vices because it is not true that "whoever has one vice has all the vices."  The only explanation for why one vice vitiates all virtue, then, "must come from the connection of the virtues."  This suggests that virtues are an "all in one, one in all" proposition.

Philip obviously is of the opinion that the infused virtues are an "all in one, one in all" proposition.  But before concluding this, he also looks at various opposing authorities that suggest that perhaps the infused virtues are not "all in one, and one in all," but rather something different.  He then disposes of these arguments   We will address this pro-and-con part of Philip the Chancellor's Summa de bono next.  Then our last posting on Philip the Chancellor will be on the issue of charity, and whether this one theological virtue, without any of the others, is sufficient to avail us eternal life.

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*The first is a quote to Moralia 1.32.45.  The second appears to be a paraphrase of Moralia 1.32.48.
**This is a paraphrase of Moralia 6:1277B.
***Compare: "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" (2 Cor. 6:15)


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: Looking at Virtue Analogically

TO THE ARGUMENTS THAT THE CARDINAL VIRTUES enjoy a unity, so that they must be all for one and one for all, Philip the Chancellor throws out his sed contras.  He throws out two challenges to the traditional view.*  The first is that each particular virtue may be said to be a species of of the genus virtue, and each particular vice a species of the genus vice, and so it can be envisioned how one may have a particular species of virtue along with a particular species of vice, and therefore it is not inconsistent to say that one may be specific virtues and specific vices in the same person.  "Therefore," Philip the Chancellor concludes, "whoever has on virtue need not to have them all."

The next sed contra argument against the unity of virtues begins with the definition of virtue.  If virtue is defined as "a habit making its deed good," and vice is defined as "a habit making its deed bad," then it would seem that good habits and bad habits can exist in the same person.  This suggests that the cardinal virtues are not all unified, so that one need not have all the virtues or none.

The Four Cardinal Virtues

In order to respond to these counter-arguments, Philip identifies something he calls political virtue.  Political virtues are those that govern particular deeds, and so, just like one human can do one good deed and another evil deed (the deeds being discrete), so also political virtue is discrete so that one can have both virtue and vice.  Similarly, one can have one good sense (sight, for example) and yet have one sense fail (hearing, for example).

The cardinal virtues can be understood in two ways according to Philip.  A cardinal virtue--whether it be justice, fortitude, temperance, or prudence--can be understood "according to the act of its proper power" and according to "the proper matter of that power."  This is how Aristotle, for example, defines it in his Nicomachean Ethics, for he "descends to the special acts of the virtues."  If viewed from this perspective, there can be situations where one can have one virtue, and not another.  The reason for this is "because the act of a power . . . does not extend beyond its proper power or beyond its matter."  Since each virtue has its proper power and matter, one virtue does not extend beyond that, and so one can have, say, justice, without, say chastity or temperance.

But the cardinal virtues can be viewed from another perspective.  "It is also possible," Philip observes, "that the acts of these powers be taken analogically an be taken about their matter analogically."  In this way, one does not descend to the special acts, but one ascends, so to speak, to a more abstract level.  This allows us to expand the concept of virtue so that justice (looked at as something to be desired) can be the subject of temperance.  Likewise, justice (looked at as something difficult) can be the subject of fortitude.  Viewed analogically, therefore, there is a certain analogical relationship between the cardinal virtues, even though they may at with their own proper power and matter of that power.  The borders between the virtues therefore begin to disappear.

Viewed analogically, the cardinal virtues are such that "it is true that whoever has one virtue has them all."  And when one understands the virtues in such an analogical matter, one can see how it is possible for Seneca to say that "[a]ll that happens well happens justly and bravely and prudently and temperately."  One can also see, how Cicero did, that the virtues are not like collecting Corinthian vases, but the loss of one virtue results in the loss of virtue.  This analogical relationship between the virtues is also what St. Bernard of Clairvaux had in mind in his book dedicated to Pope Eugenius.**

In summary, if one views virtue from the perspective of its particular act or matter, then one is not wed to the idea that one must have all virtues or none at all.  However, if one views virtues more broadly, that is analogically, it would appear that the loss of one virtue (viewed analogically) would mean one has lost the rest of them (viewed analogically).

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*From the context, it is clear that Philip had two additional arguments, both based upon an analogy between the virtues and the senses.  This is known because he responds to them further in the text.  For some reason, the arguments themselves are not found in extant texts.
**For these texts, see our last posting on this subject, Philip the Chancellor: On the Unity of the Virtues.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Philip the Chancellor: On the Unity of the Virtues

AS WE OBSERVED IN OUR LAST POST, Philip the Chancellor advances the view that the cardinal virtues are acquired, which is to say they are the product of human effort and are natural in character.  Thus they are of a different order than the theological virtues, which have been infused in the Christian upon baptism and so are supernatural in both origin and end.  There is therefore in Philip's view virtues that com from grace and moral virtues that spring from nature.

Philip also addresses the question of the unity of the cardinal virtues.  The cardinal virtues seem, at least at first blush, to be separate, and not really one.  The position against the unity of the virtues is first seen through the eyes of Stoic authority.  Seneca, in his Epistle 66, says: "All that happens well happens justly and bravely and prudently and temperately."  This suggests separateness.  Similarly, Cicero in his Tusculan Disputations (2.14.32) contrasts the virtues to Corinthian vases, so that they appear not to be distinct.  "If you lose one of your Corinthians [vases], you can say that the rest of the vases are safe."  But, in Cicero's view, this cannot be said of the virtues, for "if you lose one of your virtues, you must necessarily confess that you no longer have any virtue."

The Cardinal Virtues by Michele Schiavoni (1760) 
in the Major Sacristy of the Church of Saint Geremia and Lucia

The same view regarding the unity of virtues seems to be supported by Christian authority.  So St. Bernard  of Clairvaux advocates the unity of virtues in his book to Pope Eugenius, De Consideratione.  Through a series of rhetorical questions, St. Bernard clearly takes the view that the cardinal virtues are one, so that they must be all had or none had:

What is temperance but holding to the mean in our actions by removing excess and deficiency? And what is courage but confronting the arduous and persevering amid difficulties? And what is justice but rendering to each what is his due? And what is prudence but in our choices distinguishing good from bad? . . . . The mean is where there is the whole internal power and the very core of all the virtues, and where all are so united that all seem one virtue. This is especially true since they do not communicate by somehow participating in the mean, but each of them wholly and integrally possesses it.*

This all, then, would suggest that the natural, acquired virtues are one, so that "whoever has one virtue has all," and the demands of one virtue requires that the others all be present.  Philip the Chancellor makes the argument from justice, showing how justice requires also prudence, fortitude, and temperance to operate, and "the same argument," he stats, "can be made for the other virtues."

Drawing from Aristotle, Philip the Chancellor also proposes the following argument in support of the unity of the virtues.  In his Nicomachean Ethics (1105a9), Aristotle observes that "virtue is the ultimate end of a potency for something."  This suggests that "a virtue of the rational soul can be defined in terms of its ultimate end."  If, ultimately, the end defines virtue, then it would seem that they all become unified by the common end.

Again turning to Aristotle, this time his De caelo, Philip starts from an alternative Aristotelian definition of virtue.  Using Aristotle's alternative definition, "virtue is the disposition of a perfected [subject] in relation to its optimum state."  (281a14-15)  As an example, Aristotle compares imperfect circles with the "greatest circle" which is the standard or optimum circle.  Just like a defect in the drawing of any circle ruins the entire circle, so does the failure of goodness in any manner ruin the goodness of the entire act.  "The consequence is that goodness in h rational soul will b a virtue only when there is goodness in every act."

One final argument for the unity of the virtues is advanced by Philip the Chancellor.  The soul, he observes, is a simple essence.  In a simple essence, contraries cannot exist.  Good or bad, "absent any further determination," that is in their most general sense, "are contraries."  If that is so, then it is apparent that thy cannot exist in the soul at the same time.  This suggests that the soul is either virtuous entirely, or not virtuous entirely, and therefore that there is a unity in the virtues.

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*De cons., 1.8.9-11; 3:404-6.