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Thomas Aquinas on Community - Dictionary of Arguments

Höffe I 152
Community/Thomas/Höffe: Since no human can live for him- or herself alone in accordance with his or her purpose, it was given to him or her by nature to "live sociably with many"(1). This living together - here Thomas Aquinas shows himself to be a republican - should be a
Höffe I 153
a "Society of free men."
Governance: According to another partial argument, the gap between the personal and the common good, there is a need for an authority that guides people. Only for this reason, because the welfare of the individual can run counter to the welfare of the community, does a rule become necessary. For it is only with its help that the multiplicity of individuals becomes the unity of a community.
Monarchy: The factual follow-up question of whether one or more persons should rule, i.e. the question of the best constitution, is answered by Thomas Aquinas, although in the aforementioned sense a Republican, in favour of sole rule, namely the monarchy. However, he does impose one condition on it: it must be exercised fairly, which in Thomas Aquinas' case, as is customary with Aristotle, Stoa and Cicero, means serving the common good.
Righteous rule: Righteous is a rule that serves not the ruler but the community. Thomas Aquinas' sees its core in inner peace, which is not only suggested by the historical situation when the Sicilian Empire of Frederick II. fell apart and an interregnum ("intermediate rule") prevailed in the Roman-German Empire after the end of the Staufer dynasty.
Community: Surprisingly, the definition of the commonwealth as a legal order, which is important in the Iex tract of the sum of theology, plays no role in the writing On the Rule of Princes.
ThomasVsAristotle: [Thomas Aquinas' goes beyond Aristotle here]: Following his model of communities, the kingdoms of the time - not the Greek city republics as Aristotle did - he does not only follow the house and the village (qua clan) with civitas, the citizenship and city community. In addition, he introduces the provincia or regnum, a community that spans several cities and landscapes. Only this greater unity makes it possible - according to medieval experience - to guarantee all the necessities of life almost autonomously.


1. Thomas De regno ad regem Cypri I, 1


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016


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