The Virtues According to Aristotle, Aquinas, and Austen

  • Sarah Emsley


The theories of ancient philosophers with regard to the practice of virtue were adopted and adapted by early Christian thinkers to become part of the theological tradition: Jane Austen inherits this tradition, and responds to it creatively Plato’s Republic provides the first recorded articulation of the idea that there are four cardinal virtues: Socrates says that “our city, if it has been rightly founded, is good in the full sense of the word,” and that it will therefore be “wise, brave, sober, and just.”1 Aristotle’s systematic approach to virtues in the Nicomachean Ethics divides them into the categories of moral, intellectual, and social virtues. In the Summa Theologica, Aquinas interprets the classical tradition in the context of the Christian faith, uniting the cardinal virtues of prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice and the biblical virtues of faith, hope, and charity.


Moral Education Moral Life Nicomachean Ethic Christian Faith Intellectual Virtue 
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© Sarah Emsley 2005

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  • Sarah Emsley

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