The Human Body and Human Happiness in
Aquinas's Summa Theologiae

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Abstract

There appears to be no serious treatment of the positive role played by the body in Aquinas's account of human happiness. This would seem to be a significant gap in the literature given Aquinas's well known insistence on the human person as a body-soul unity. This paper aims at taking a first step in filling-in the gap by considering Aquinas's discussion of the body's part in human happiness in the Secunda Pars of the Summa theologiae. In particular it considers the place of the body in each of the three different forms of happiness that Aquinas talks about there. It is perhaps the role of the body in the third form of happiness – the perfect happiness of the beatific vision – that is most crucial to understand since this is human happiness simpliciter. Although the body has a part to play here too, Aquinas's understanding of it is not without problems.

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