BookDiscussion: Jennifer Herdt's Putting On Virtue
Saint Thomas Aquinas's Pagan Virtues?
Putting the Question to Jennifer Herdt's Putting On Virtue
Article first published online: 10 OCT 2013
© 2013 Journal of Religious Ethics, Inc
Journal of Religious Ethics
Volume 41, Issue 4, pages 669–687, December 2013
How to Cite
Overmyer, S. (2013), Saint Thomas Aquinas's Pagan Virtues?. Journal of Religious Ethics, 41: 669–687. doi: 10.1111/jore.12037
- Issue published online: 10 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 10 OCT 2013
- Jennifer Herdt;
- pagan virtues;
- Thomas Aquinas;
Today's conversations in virtue ethics are enflamed with questions of “pagan virtues,” which often designate non-Christian virtue from a Christian perspective. “Pagan virtues,” “pagan vices,” and their historied interpretations are the subject of Jennifer Herdt's book Putting On Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices (2008). I argue that the questions and language animating Herdt's book are problematic. I offer an alternative strategy to Herdt's for reading Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologiae. My results are twofold: (1) a different set of conclusions and questions regarding the moral life that lend a fresh perspective to “pagan virtues” and (2) corresponding methodological suggestions for improving Herdt's project that would, to my mind, reaffirm her normative conclusions regarding the most viable ways forward for contemporary discussions of virtue.