According to Thomas Aquinas, the four virtues of philosophy, the natural virtues, can give natural blessedness – eudaemonia , in the Greek sense. Virtue does not have the bad connotations it has today – such as abstinence from sexual relations, etc. But it means what the Latin term indicates: vir, :man,” manliness, power of being. In all these different virtues, power of being expresses itself – the right power of being, the power of being which is united with justice. This is what these terms mean. So don’t presuppose that if you find the same words in the 13th century that they mean exactly the same as they mean today, especially after at least one century has passed since that time, namely the 18th century, which has changed everything! So be aware of this fact, for all your historical studies, and don’t use these terms in the wrong way. What Thomas does here is to combine ancient ethics – self-fulfillment – on the basis of what is given to man by nature: the courage to be, the temperance which expresses the limits of finitude, the wisdom which expressed the knowledge of these limits, and then the all-embracing justice which gives to each of them the right balance in relationship to the others.
And now on this basis the Christian virtues are seen: faith, love and hope. They are supernatural, they are not what nature gives but what grace gives. So you have the two stories, so to speak: the normal ethics and the transcending, spiritual ethics.
This of course was not simply a theoretical speculation, but it was something more: it was at the same time an expression of the sociological situation. The acceptance of the Platonic-Aristotelian virtues meant that a city-culture developed. And on the other hand the combination of these with the Christian virtues, faith, love, and hope, means that it is the period in which the orders of the knights developed, which had such a tremendous historical influence on the high Middle Ages. They united pagan courage with Christian love, pagan wisdom with Christian hope, pagan moderation with Christian faith. So it was at the same time a combination between humanistic and classical ideals on the basis of the developing of independent humanistic elements.!!!. the universally Christian culture.
The ethical purpose of man is the fulfillment of what is essential for man. And as you know, in Thomas Aquinas what is essential for man is his intellect, which doesn’t mean his shrewdness, but his ability of living in meanings and in structures of reason. This makes him man, not the will. Man has the will in common with the animal. Intellect, the rational structure which forms his mind, is peculiar to man.