The Metaphysical Foundations of Love
Aquinas on Participation, Unity, and Union
The Root of Friendship addresses the connections between self-love and self-governance in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and defends three related theses. First, Aquinas's account of proper self-love is a description of the nature and importance of a person's subjective self- experience. Second, his notion of self-governance cannot be under- stood fully unless we grasp its basis in self-love. Finally, his account both satisfies contemporary conditions of relevance for self-governance and offers attractive solutions to issues raised in analytic discussions on such matters. Accordingly, the book provides a systematic account of Aquinas's thoughts on the nature of a person's self-experience and the role that experience plays in self-governance. Self-love, especially as fully actualized in self-friendship, constitutes a person's experience of himself. In turn, it is the subjective pole both for a person's ongoing experiences of the world, including goods, and for acting in the world, particularly in terms of consciously responding to the good. Since a person's fundamental awareness of and response to the good are found in the self-experience that results from self-love, particularly insofar as self-love includes the desire for and activity of pursuing goods and avoiding evils, self-governance naturally derives from it. In addition, a person (who?) loves himself wickedly fails to seek and acquire the goods perfective of his personal nature. Lastly, the book provides an argument to the conclusion that once we attend to the connections between self-love and self-governance, we find attractive features of Aquinas's overall account that make it relevant to contemporary discussions on self-governance, particularly those in the analytic tradition. The key features are examined in light of these discussions.
About this Author
Anthony T. Flood is associate professor of philosophy at North Dakota State University.
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