Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION LXIII.: OF THE CAUSE OF 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 LXIII.: OF THE CAUSE OF 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 CAUSE OF VIRTUES.
Article I.—Is virtue in us by nature?
R. As regards sciences and virtues some have laid it down that they are totally from within, meaning that all virtues and sciences naturally preexist in the soul, and that discipline and exercise do no more than remove the obstacles to virtue and science, which arise in the soul from the lumpishness of the body, as when iron is polished by filing; and this was the opinion of the Platonists. Others, on the contrary, have said that they are totally from without. Others again have said that in aptitude the sciences and virtues are in us by nature, but not in perfection. So says the Philosopher, and this is the more correct thing to say. In evidence whereof we must consider that a thing is said to be natural to man in two ways: in one way according to the nature of the species, in another way according to the nature of the individual. And because everything has its species according to its form, and is individualized according to its matter; and man’s form is his rational soul, and his matter his body: therefore that which belongs to man by virtue of his rational soul is natural to him in point of his species; while that which is natural to him by his having a given complexion of body is natural to him according to his nature as an individual. Now in both these ways a rudimentary phase of virtue is natural to man. First, as regards his specific nature, in this way, that there are by nature in the reason of man certain naturally known principles, theoretical and practical, which are seminal1 principles of virtues intellectual and moral; and again inasmuch as there is in the will a natural craving after the good that is according to reason. Secondly, as regards his individual nature, inasmuch as by conformation of body some are better and some worse disposed to certain virtues: the explanation being this, that the sensitive powers are energies of corresponding parts of the body; and according to the disposition of those parts the said powers are helped or hindered in their operations; and consequently the rational powers also, which these sensitive powers serve, are helped or hindered in like manner. Thus one man has a natural aptitude for knowledge, another for fortitude, another for temperance. And in these ways the virtues, as well intellectual as moral, are in us by nature to the extent of a certain rudimentary aptitude, but not in their perfect completeness: the reason being that nature is limited to one fixed course of action, whereas the perfection of the said virtues does not lead to one fixed course of action, but is varied according to the diversity of matters wherein the virtues operate, and the diversity of circumstances. It appears then that virtues are in us by nature, in aptitude, and in a rudimentary phase, but not in their perfection—except the theological virtues, which are wholly from without.1
§ 2. Virtue divinely infused, considered in its perfection, is incompatible with any mortal sin. But virtue humanly acquired is compatible with an act even of mortal sin, because the use of a habit in us is subject to our will. Nor is a habit of acquired virtue destroyed by one act of sin: for the direct contrary of a habit is not an act, but another habit. And therefore, though without grace a man cannot avoid mortal sin so as never to sin mortally, still there is nothing to hinder him from acquiring a habit of virtue, enough to keep him from evil acts for the most part, and especially from those that are very much opposed to reason. There are, however, some mortal sins that man can nowise avoid without grace, to wit, the sins that are directly contrary to the theological virtues which are in us by the gift of grace.
[1 ]For seminaria read seminalia, as in the corresponding passage, q. 51 art. 1. (Trl.)
[1 ]A theological virtue is a sort of faculty of supernatural action, and is said to be infused by God. (See q. 65. art. 2.) For the matter of this important article see Ethics and Natural Law, p. 68. n. 7. It is important to observe that in this article natural is opposed, not to supernatural, but to acquired.