Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION LVII.: OF THE VARIOUS INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION LVII.: OF THE VARIOUS INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF THE VARIOUS INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES.
Article I.—Are speculative habits of intellect virtues?
R. A habit is called a virtue in two ways: in one way because it produces a readiness for well-doing; in another way because along with the readiness it produces the use of the same to the actual doing of good. This latter characteristic belongs only to those habits which regard the appetitive faculty: because the appetitive faculty it is that brings about the use of all powers and habits. Since then speculative habits of intellect do not perfect the appetitive faculty, nor regard it at all, but only the intellectual faculty, such habits may indeed be called virtues, inasmuch as they make a readiness to that good work, the consideration of truth, which is the good work of the intellect. They are not however called virtues in the second sense of the term, as causing one to put a power or habit to actual good use. For a man is not inclined to use the habit of speculative science by the mere fact of possessing it: he simply has the ability of contemplating the truth in the matters upon which his science turns. But his using the science that he has comes of the motion of his will. And therefore a virtue which perfects the will, as charity or justice, also causes one to make good use of speculative habits.
Article II.Are there only three speculative habits of intellect, namely wisdom, science, and intuition?
R. The virtue of the speculative intellect is that which perfects the said intellect for the consideration of truth, such being the good work proper to it. Now truth offers itself to consideration in two shapes: in the shape of something known of itself, and in the shape of something known through something else. What is known of itself is a principle perceived by the intellect at a glance; and therefore the habit that perfects the intellect for the consideration of such truth is called intellect, or intuition, which is a hold upon principles.1 The truth that is known through something else is not taken in by the intellect at a glance, but is gathered by inquiry of reason, and stands as the termination of a reasoning process. This may be in two ways: either that the goal is final in some particular kind; or that it is final in respect of all human knowledge. About the latter goal wisdom is conversant, which considers the highest causes, and hence is apt to judge and ordain on all points, because a perfect and universal judgment cannot be got except by carrying matters back to their first causes. Science on the other hand perfects the intellect in regard of what is a final goal in this or that kind of knowable things; and therefore there are different sciences, according to the different kinds of things to be known, but only one wisdom.1
Article III.Is the habit of intellect called art a virtue?
R. Art is nothing else than a right method of doing certain works, the goodness of which works consists not in any disposition of the appetitive powers of man, but in the excellence of the work itself as turned out. It is nothing to the praise of the artificer as such, with what will he goes to work, but what sort of work he produces.2 Thus then art, properly speaking, is a habit of external activity. And yet it has this point in common with speculative habits, that speculative habits also are occupied with the quality of the things they consider, and not with the quality of the human appetite in regard of those things. So long as the geometrical demonstration is correct, it matters not how the geometer stands in his appetitive faculty, whether he be in joy or in anger, as neither does it matter in the artificer. And therefore art is a virtue on the same footing as speculative habits: that is to say, neither art nor speculative habits produce a good work in actual exercise, for that is proper to the virtue that perfects the appetite, but only in point of preparedness for well-doing.
Article IV.Is prudence a distinct virtue from art?
R. Art is a right method of production; while prudence is a right method of conduct. Now production and conduct differ: for production is an act passing into exterior matter, as building, cutting, and the like; but conduct is an act abiding in the agent, as seeing, willing, and so forth.1 Prudence then stands to human acts of this latter sort, which are uses of powers and habits, as art stands to exterior productions: each being a perfect method in respect of the operations to which it refers. Now in speculation the perfection and correctness of the procedure depends on the principles whence reason argues. In human acts the ends in view are as the principles in speculation. And therefore for prudence, which is a right method of conduct, it is requisite that a man be well disposed in respect of the ends and aims of his action; and he is so disposed by having his appetitive faculty right. And therefore for prudence there is required moral virtue, which is the rectification of appetite. The goodness of works of art, on the other hand, is not any goodness of the human appetite, but of the works in themselves; and therefore art does not presume the rectification of appetite. Hence it is that an artist is more praised who does wrong voluntarily than another who does wrong involuntarily: but it is more against prudence to do wrong voluntarily than involuntarily: because rectitude of will is of the essence of prudence, but not of the essence of art.
§ 3. Prudence is apt to give advice on points that appertain to the whole life of man and to the last end of human life: while in any given arts there is the office of advising on points that appertain to the proper ends of the said arts. Hence some persons, as being fitted to give advice on matters of war or seamanship, are called prudent commanders, or prudent navigators, but not prudent absolutely; but they alone are prudent absolutely who give good advice for the main conduct of life.1
Article V.—Is prudence a virtue necessary to man?
R. Prudence is a virtue especially necessary to human life. For to live well is to work well, or display a good activity. Now for activity to be good, care must be taken not only of what the agent does, but of how he does it: to wit, that he go to work according to a right election, not by the mere impetus of passion. But since election is of means to the end, rightness of election requires two things, a due end and a proper direction of means to that due end. Now to the due end man is properly disposed by the virtue which perfects the appetitive part of the soul, the object whereof is that which is good and that which ranks as an end. But towards the proper direction of means to a due end a man must be positively disposed by a habit of reason: because deliberation and election, which are about means to the end, are acts of reason. And therefore there must be in the reason some intellectual virtue, whereby the reason may be perfected so as suitably to regard the means to the end; and that virtue is prudence.
§ 1. Artistic goodness is looked for, not in the artist himself, but rather in the thing wrought by art, since art is a right method of production: for production, passing as it does on to exterior matter, is not a perfection of the producer, but of the thing produced. Art then is about matters of production. But the goodness of prudence is looked for in the agent himself, whose action and conduct is his perfection; for prudence is a right method of conduct. And therefore for art it is not requisite that the artist’s own activity should be good, but that he should turn out a good piece of work. And therefore art is not necessary for the artist to live well, but only to make the thing wrought by art good and to preserve the same; but prudence is necessary for a man to live well, not only for him to become good.
[1 ]St. Thomas calls it intellect: its modern name is intuition or insight (Trl.)
[1 ]Cf. q. 74 art. 7. note. It is evident that perfect wisdom is beyond the reach of man. Revelation has put much wisdom within our reach that we otherwise could not have had. See St. Paul, 1 Cor. ii. 6—16. In a minister of the Gospel, wisdom is indispensable, science is an accessory. (Trl.)
[2 ]See Ethics and Natural Law, p. 185. (Trl.)
[1 ]See above, q. 3. art. 2. § 3. (Trl.)
[1 ]Prudence differs from wisdom in this, that wisdom is speculative, prudence practical, much as dogmatic and moral theology differ. In common parlance, of course, wisdom is often put for prudence.