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Acquired and Infused Moral Virtue: A Distinction of Ends



There is a danger in separating out just a small portion of Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae for a detailed study while neglecting the larger framework from which this section comes. Yet students of Aquinas have failed to recognize the import of Thomas’ discussion of ends, both final and proximate, and how these are related to his later discussion of acquired and infused moral virtue and their relation to charity and prudence in the Prima Secundae of his Summa. In asserting that charity is necessary for all true virtue, the roles of the Church, the state, their members and even the place and role of grace and nature are confused. A proper understanding of the distinction between acquired natural moral virtue and infused moral virtue and their distinct ends assists in a more complete understanding of the position and responsibilities of each of these in building up a more just earthly society and the ultimate attainment of eternal beatitude.