Paul Tillich, A History Of Christian Thought

Ethical Teachings (Aquinas). Nominalism (Wm. Occam). German mysticism (Eckhart).

The problem we left unfinished in the week before last was the ethical teachings of Thomas Aquinas. His ethical teaching corresponds to his system of grades, as do all the other realms of his system. There is an ethics, a rational sub-structure, and a theological super-structure. Exactly as nature and grace are related to each other, so the sub-structure and super-structure are related to each other. The sub-structure contains the four main pagan virtues, taken from Plato: courage, temperance, wisdom, and the all-embracing justice. They produce natural happiness. Happiness does not mean having a good time or having fun, but it means the fulfillment of one’s own essential nature, which of course produces an awareness of fulfillment – – which means happiness. In Greek the word for happiness is eudaemonia , and you know that there is a philosophical school called eudaemonism. It is often attacked by Christianity that happiness is not the purpose of human existence but, let us say, the glory of God. I think this is a completely mistaken interpretation of eudaemonia. It is exactly what in Christian theology is called blessedness, but blessedness on the basis of the natural virtues, and Thomas knew this. Therefore he was not , but he accepted this concept. It is derived from the two Greek words eu and daemon – a “demon,” a Divine power, which guides us “well” – (cf. Socrates’ daemon.) The result of the guiding produces eudaemonia : being guided in the right way toward self-fulfillment. In this way eudaemonia has received the connotation of happiness or blessedness.