Class 2: The Acts and the Powers of the Soul

Moral Philosophy

Course: Thomas Aquinas’ Theory of Action

Taught by Dr. Fulvio Di Blasi

CLASS 2: The Acts and the Powers of the Soul

The study of the acts and the powers of the soul is an important premise of moral philosophy. St. Thomas Aquinas’ “moral science” is an extension, so to speak, of his treatise on the human being. Aquinas develops his anthropological discourse in three phases. First, with respect to the essence of man as a being composed of soul and body, then with respect to its faculties (especially the intellect and the will), and finally with respect to the faculties’ operations. However, the treaty is incomplete because he delays to the study of the operations of the will to the next part of his work, which addresses “ethical science.” Ethical science regards voluntary actions. The concepts that Aquinas uses for his ethics are born first in his discussion of the nature of the powers of the human soul. A careful study of his ethical science must therefore be preceded by a proper understanding of the soul’s faculties: especially, intellect and will. In this lecture, Professor Di Blasi focuses on the general methodology by which Aquinas distinguishes the faculties starting with their objects. The lecture offers an exegesis of article 3 of the question 77 of the first part of the Summa Theologiae, where Aquinas outlines the parts of the soul, the forms of life and the powers of the soul.
Dr. Fulvio Di Blasi is an internationally renowned scholar in the field of moral philosophy, natural law theory, and Thomistic philosophy. He is Founder and President of the Thomas International Project, President of the Thomas International Association in Italy, and Co-Director of the Thomas International Center in Raleigh, NC.